For years I have followed Mark Miller's career and have watched as he as helped redefine Southwestern Cuisine. There is no better way to watch this progression than in the cookbooks he writes. His newest release is "Red Sage: Contemporary American Cuisine". Where as his first books really introduced Americans to Southwestern flavors and techniques, "Red Sage" goes beyond that and refines this cuisine, creating food with much more refinement than his earlier books. Take for example his "Roasted Loin of pork with fig and Chipotle stuffing", a beautiful roll that seems timeless in its preparation. Try the Roasted Antelope (now raised throughout Texas) Chops with Ancho-Plum Glaze and Garlic Mustard Greens. You can even try your hand at sausage making with 3 different game sausages. Yet Miller never strays too far from the real deal as shown in his numerous tamale recipes and in recipes such as "Indian Harvest Bean Soup".
In "Red Sage" Miller interrupts his recipe writing with numerous essays. These essays fall into two categories: This first of these categories is called "The making of Red Sage". Found throughout the book, these essays chronicle Miller's experience in opening Red Sage in the Washington DC area. A place not known for its Southwestern influences or really even known as being a hot spot in American dinning. What really comes through in these essays though is Miller's passion for food, cooking, and creating.
The other essays give a historical perspective to his book. Each short essay discusses one topic of life on the frontier: from Women's roles in the frontier, to the role of cattle on the frontier economy, to what it was like to travel in a covered wagon. Plus numerous others.
The only problem I found with the book is that twice I found recipes that used ingredients in them that were not listed in the recipe lists so be sure to read the recipes carefully before you start. Other than that small problem, I loved this book. Not only are the recipes great, but the book itself is a fun and informative read.