Cheers to the Publican Book Review

Cheers to the Publican Book Review

Title: Cheers to the Publican, Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall
Author: Paul Kahan, Cosmo Goss, Rachel Holtzman
Published: September 19, 2017, Lorena Jones Books
No. of Pages: 336
Cover Price: $40.00 Hardcover, $19.99 Kindle

The Publican is an extremely popular restaurant in Chicago, opened by celebrated chef Paul Kahan. The emphasis is on “Oysters, pork, and beer.” Recipes from the restaurant are now presented in a beautiful cookbook Cheers to the Publican, Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall which he has written along with his executive chef, Cosmo Goss, and Rachel Holtzman, a well-known writer, editor, and recipe tester. The book not only contains recipes, but also vignettes about restaurant life, friends, and other musings.

The recipes are unique, and not the type you would normally find in mainstream cookbooks. There are recipes for incredible breads, as well as appetizers, salads and main dishes. There is only one recipe for a dessert: the publican waffle with honey butter. Although this seems a bit strange, the waffles are easy to make and are very similar to those served in Brussels (where the Belgian waffle is may be considered the national dish).

Some of the unusual recipes include Squid and Blood Sausage, Braised Octopus Ribolitta, Dry- aged Duck Breast with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette, and Mussels in Sour Beer. Among the recipes that may appeal to mainstream cooks are Swordfish and Butternut Squash in Acqua Pazza, The Publican Fish Fry, and Pork Shoulder and White Grits. Kahan’s Pimento Cheese is excellent, and Flap Steak with Strawberries, Mint, and Feta. There is even a recipe for homemade bacon.

Beautiful photographs, not just of the dishes, but also of areas where the ingredients can be obtained, and interesting people in the area, are included in this cookbook.

For those who are interested in preparing the recipes in the cookbook, be aware that many are quite involved and have long lists of ingredients. The breads must be started early – sometimes days early – and others call for hard-to-find and unusual ingredients. While the book is well-written and interesting reading, there are a lot of recipes that most won’t want to prepare, and others that most cooks won’t have time to prepare.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.

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