Trisha Yearwood Dishes On Her Newest Cookbook - Exclusive Interview

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When country music star Trisha Yearwood made her debut with "She's in Love With the Boy" she quickly rose to fame as the song topped the charts in 1991. And while she's certainly continued to make a name for herself in country music since then, Yearwood has also topped the charts with her Food Network show "Trisha's Southern Kitchen" along with three best-selling cookbooks.

Now, Yearwood has even more delicious, homecooked dishes to share with her fans. Her 17th season on Food Network kicked off in mid-September, but that's not all. Yearwood has been keeping busy in the kitchen and just debuted a new cookbook, "Trisha's Kitchen," on September 28.

To learn more about this country music star's latest projects, along with her passion for cooking and serving others, we went straight to the source. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Trisha Yearwood dishes on where she learned to cook, her husband Garth Brooks' favorite dishes, and what her new cookbook full of easy comfort food recipes means to her.

Trisha Yearwood shares how she first learned to cook

Can you share a bit about how you first learned to cook? Where's that influence from?

My mom and my dad were both really good cooks. And as a kid, she really did everything. My dad would do breakfast on the weekends and he would usually, if we had steak or something, he was the guy, but really, our mom was so good. So my sister Beth and I, our jobs really, as kids, were to set the table and to crack the ice cubes, because we didn't have an ice maker. And anything that wasn't on the table once we were all seated, whoever was closer, which was always me, would have to run to the kitchen to get it. It wasn't far, it was a very small house, but I was like, "Really?" I would have to go get the salt and pepper, and it was really literally around the corner. And I just took for granted, I think, what a great cook she was and that even though she was a school teacher and had a job, she had dinner on the table every night at six o'clock. I don't know how she did that, but she did. And then like I said, my dad would take the weekends over and it was just everything you could ever have for breakfast.

So, I had a healthy appreciation and love for food, but it really wasn't until I moved away. I came to Nashville and college, and I was living in an apartment and I was trying to cook for myself. I was eating a lot of fast food and I really was homesick. And I also missed the food. I missed my family and I missed the food. And so, I remember calling my mom and asking her how to make something. She really taught me how to cook over the phone, because she gave me recipes for some of her basic dishes, like her Sunday roast beef rice and gravy that she made every Sunday or potato salad, just things that were simple ingredients.

And when I made them and they turned out, I just cried, because it was like, okay, I can make it. I can feed myself. Yay. And it tastes like hers and it wasn't hard to do. And I think that I was 20 years old. I guess I was a late bloomer and it really kind of was the start, for me, of a sense of accomplishment, that you could do something yourself and then it would turn out well. And now, all this time later, it's just fun. And it's an adventure. And I think my confidence just builds and builds and builds.

Trisha Yearwood dishes on her latest cookbook

What makes your latest cookbook different than the other three that you've published already?

I've said in the last three books, every time I've done interviews for those books, I've said they're the next volume in the series, but I haven't said that about this book. And I think it's because it feels like a combination of kind of... They're all new recipes, but it's like the best of each vibe in those of the three books. After I wrote the first book, I thought I would never be able to write a book as genuine and sincere, and really including those family traditions and recipes and stories, because I've told those stories.

But what I found was, over the years, is I cook things now that maybe my mom didn't cook, but I've been cooking them long enough that they're now family traditions in my own house. I've made my own traditions, which is a wonderful thing. And then we discovered, my sister and I, we have discovered recipes that we didn't know were written down. We thought we had found everything, but we were able to find some real hidden gems, especially on my dad's side. His mother, Elizabeth, she had a job. She was a widow and she worked and she cooked, but not a lot. And my other grandma cooked all the time. So a lot of the recipes are from my other grandma.

And we found this little cookbook with a lot of little handwritten recipes in it from my grandma Yearwood, and it was such a treasure for us to be able to find things in there that we thought we'd never find, things that my dad had talked about eating as a kid, in these books.

So it was just fun. It was fun to do the deep dive and find the recipes. It was fun to go through my sister and my trove of recipes and go, "Oh my gosh, I've been making this for 10 years. I can't believe we haven't put this in a book. What are we..." So it's a little bit of everything. It's got you covered from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. And it might be my favorite one yet. And I haven't ever said that either. So I'm pretty excited about it.

You mentioned working on the book with your sister. What has it meant for you to work on another book with her?

Yeah. I mean, she's my person. Writing the books has been a really great way for us to carry on our folks. My mom helped write the first two, and then she passed. And so Beth and I wrote the third and now the fourth. And it's just the only other person that shares those specific memories with you. She's just the best. And she moved to Nashville this year. We haven't lived in the same town for a long time, not since high school. So the fact that she's basically my neighbor, I still, when she leaves my house, or I leave her house, I'm like, "I can see you tomorrow because you're my neighbor." So it's a really great gift. We live in a world now where families don't always just stay in the same place, and we get used to only seeing family on special occasions. I'm just so about my family, and so to be able to know that she's there and I can see her every day and we can just have coffee in the morning if we want, it is just the best. It's really special.

Do you have a recipe from the new book that you're most excited about sharing?

So many. I mean, there's a chicken pot pie burger that I can't stop talking about. There's a double stuffed brownie recipe that is my new go-to, these collard green wontons that came out of a recipe for trying to figure out how to cook collard greens quickly, and then having a lot of leftover collard greens, and then spinning it into a wonton, which I never even intended to be a recipe, that we love.

You could ask me about every single recipe in this book and I could talk to you about it with passion. And that's one of the reasons why I think it's my favorite book, is that I really... I had every single day to wake up in this kitchen and figure out what I'm going to make, how I'm going to tweak it, what I'm going to use it on. If it wasn't right, go back to the drawing board. It was just a... And because I didn't have a lot of help, I did a lot of it myself, and that was also a good thing. It was really good to do.

Do you think you spent more time on this book than previous books?

I think I spent more time at one time. I've always written all the books, they're all my recipes, but I have farmed out testing recipes, because if I've been making a recipe for 20 years and then I give it to you to make... it might make no sense to you, because I can't see when I'm reading it through that it's really Trisha speak. No one will understand. So you have to have an independent tester look at the recipes. And in this case, I had that, but I also was testing a lot of recipes myself, and so was my sister. We were kind of testing each other, like, "You read through this one. You make this. Tell me what you think needs to be changed." So I just feel like it was a lot of concentrated cooking, because normally, I'm either on the road and then I'm working on it when I'm home... So this was the first time since the book that I've had a chance to just work on the one thing and it was good.

Trisha Yearwood shares about Garth Brooks' involvement with her latest cookbook

Your husband wrote the foreword, again, for this book. Why has it been important for him to write the foreword for your books?

Well, because he did the first one so well, now he just has to... I mean, he's the guy who really does... He's with me every day. He knows I enjoy cooking and he knows that I really love to cook for people that I love. And he believes one hundred percent that if he made the same recipe, it wouldn't taste the same because love is a secret ingredient. He believes that. And so he speaks to it so well, and he's obviously a great writer. So I just turn it over to him and I'm always amazed. It's so sweet what he says and so sincere. And he makes me sound really good, so I let him write the forward every time.

Being home so much the last, you had a lot of time to perfect these recipes. Was your husband the final taste tester on a lot of them since you didn't see as many other people?

He really was. My sister moved to Nashville, so she and I made a lot of things for our husbands to try. The thing that, about Garth, that sometimes drives me crazy is that he's brutally honest. That's also the thing that I love about him, because when it comes to these recipes, you need feedback and I need somebody to say, "Something's missing." First, I get mad when you say that, but then I'm like, "Okay, but you're right. I'll think about that."

He's also big on texture. So it's not just about the spices, it's about the mouthfeel, which is a big thing.

So he's really a good critic. And if he loves it, you have no doubt that he loves it because he doesn't speak. He can't make words if he really loves a dish. He's not the guy that just says, "Oh, it's all great."  You want someone to say "Hmm, that one..." And I usually know it, but then he confirms it, and then I get mad and then I get over it.

Trisha Yearwood reveals her husband Garth Brooks' favorite recipe

Is there an all-time recipe, maybe one in the book, that Garth always asks you to make?

He loves anything in a casserole dish, anything that's a one and done kind of thing, because he likes to eat the whole meal in the pan. So there's a chicken pie recipe. It's not chicken pot pie because there's no vegetables in it. It's just chicken and biscuit, basically, that he loves. There's also a broccoli chicken cheese rice recipe, I think that's in the first book, that he loves. And then in the new book, he was the one who said, "Hey, can you come up with a breakfast lasagna that's really like lasagna, not like a casserole." And that's kind of become one of our favorites. And we love breakfast for dinner, so it's not just for breakfast.

Do the two of you cook together? Do you enjoy cooking together?

We do. I mean, a lot of times it's... He has kind of some of his specialties, so a lot of times we'll take turns cooking, rather than cook together. But he has a famous recipe, I think it was in the second book, for his breakfast bowl, which is a lot like the way my dad cooked, everything you'd have for breakfast. And so when he does that, he uses every pan in the kitchen and there's... well, you've got to deep clean the stove when he's done. And he'll do that a lot of times when I'm still asleep.

I like to sleep in. So I'll wake up and there will be bacon cooking, and I'm like, "He's doing the breakfast bowl." And if there's something that's not done by then, I will chip in and help him, but he kind of gets it all done. It's pretty great. And he was a single dad who had to figure out how to cook for the girls, and so he... They would say he did a lot of frozen chicken strips and boxed mac and cheese, and he did, but he also... He just rolls up the sleeve and gets in there.

Trisha Yearwood talks about why she loves sharing a meal with family and friends

You talk a lot about your love for sharing a meal with family and friends. Why is that important to you?

Well, I think it takes on so many different things. When I was a kid growing up, everything that happened, the family table was the one time of day that my whole family was together. My dad had a job and he'd get home at six o'clock and he'd try to get out and do, we lived on a farm, he'd try to get out and do some work before the sunset. And then we would have dinner. And as we got older, we would find ourselves sitting around that table long after dinner and just laughing and being together as a family.

I don't just like to cook for me. If I'm cooking for me, it's kind of, it doesn't really matter, eat to live kind of thing. But when I'm going to be cooking for a crowd, I just enjoy it. I enjoy the process. I enjoy people walking in the house and going, "Oh, it smells good in here. How can I help? Can I chop a vegetable? What can I do?" And a lot of times, if you think about it, everything that we do as friends, watching football games, getting together for the holidays, it all revolves around the table. It centers around food. So it's just kind of that those relationships go together really well with food.

These are Trisha Yearwood's top kitchen tips

What would you say is your secret weapon in the kitchen? Do you have any must-have tools?

Well, I was going to say my secret weapon is overconfidence, because I believe I can do anything. And it doesn't always work out that way. But yeah, my go to appliance, the one that's the several hundred dollars appliance that I think everyone should have, is a mixer, a good electric mixer. My grandmother, with a spoon, would make everything by hand, and it's a lot. And to whip it in the mixer and it's ready in five minutes is a gift. And I also think a pressure cooker, or an Instant Pot now does all the things that a pressure cooker does. We've all got busy lives, and to make it as easy as you can without sacrificing flavor, I'm always looking for those kinds of tricks.

Do you have an all-time favorite comfort food? What's your go-to?

Anything with cheese in it. I mean, I have an unhealthy relationship with cheese.

Don't we all.

Trisha Yearwood shares who she hopes will come on her show next

You've had 17 seasons now of your Food Network show, "Tricia's Southern Kitchen." Why do you love sharing recipes with others through that avenue, through your show?

It's been a really cool way, I think, for people to get to know me better. I think a lot of people knew me through my music, but they get to really see me be a total goofball on the show. But it's also, for my sister and my friends, a chance to really kind of make people feel comfortable in the kitchen. Because when I first started doing the show, the next generation wasn't doing a ton of cooking, it didn't feel like. And now it feels like people are really cooking more. And what I want to be is the voice that says, "If you don't think you can cook, let me show you how. It doesn't have to be hard. And I want you to feel comfortable."

And I said this in the book, because the highest compliment I receive from people that watch the show is, "I feel like I could be in your kitchen with you and it wouldn't be weird." And I'm like, that's what I want to hear, it just makes me feel good. So I enjoy it. I'm a person who wants you to take the recipe and share it with all your friends. I'm not going to leave out an ingredient. I'm not going to not tell you how to do something, because I want you to be able to make it and I want you to love it, and then I want you to share it with your friends.

Is there somebody that you'd still love to bring on your show that just hasn't happened yet?

Well, yeah, there's all sorts of people. I mean, Cher is probably the top of my list.

She makes a tomato spaghetti sauce that she keeps talking about, but I think she needs to make it on my show. For me, even though I've had some celebrities on the show, it has to make sense. I haven't really had anybody on the show that I didn't know. It needs to feel organic and real to me. And it's really fun for me that my sister and some of my best girl friends have become as famous. People know them from the show. My niece is a nurse practitioner and she's like, I'll be working on a patient and they'll say, "I know you from somewhere. Are you related to Trisha Yearwood?" And she'll be like, "Yeah." So it's a pretty cool thing for them too.

For more from Trisha Yearwood, tune in to Season 17 of "Trisha's Southern Kitchen." To start making Trisha's recipes at home, find great ideas in her latest book "Trisha's Kitchen."