The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 79 of 120

{ }  79 I hear that can be a real culture shock. But even more surprising is a chef who worked in Italy making a pasta dish with squash. Though carbonara is really all about the egg and the cheese . . . This is a very fertile area, the southeastern edge of the middle of the country. Tennessee has a very temperate climate, which means good eggs even in the winter. There's lots of natural food for the hens to eat—good grain, insects and so forth. So we get tasty, vibrant eggs, with dark yellow, even orange yolks. And I love making egg dishes, because they allow me to showcase our local products. Our eggs are from Willow Farms, we work with them to get the eggs just so. And it's all part of a move - ment called "Nashville Grown" that connects farmers with restaurants. So, for this dish, I don't have to ask which comes first, the chicken or the egg. It's all about the egg . . . Actually, I use the egg two different ways in the dish: in carbon - ara sauce on the squash pasta, which is a mixture of cheese and egg yolk and black pepper—the sauce binds the whole dish together—and there's a poached egg on top. It's a very quickly cooked egg, about ten to 12 minutes in its shell, cooked in an immersion circulator. When I started making the dish, I was cook - ing the egg at 63 degrees centigrade for an hour. But it was too mucousy. This is just right. How about the squash? I suspect any squash will work. But we've been using sum- mer squash julienned on a mandolin—the biggest squash we can find, cut into long strips that look just like pasta. I use straight neck, yellow zucchini, there are so many varieties. I started using a vegetable cutter called a Veggetti, one of those "as seen on TV" things. It didn't last. In winter, I'll change to spaghetti squash. It can be made all year round. And you use jowl bacon? I didn't know you could make bacon from a pig's jowls? We get our pigs from Bear Creek Farms here in Tennessee. We buy the heads, take the cheeks off—the jowls—and cure them. We use a Tuscan Italian cure of salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. We don't smoke it. Not that there would be anything wrong with that. We once bought smoked belly bacon by mistake. It was terrific in the dish. And Fiore Sardo, a wonderful cheese—that really goes back to your time in Italy . . . Actually, I never got to Sardinia. But I really want to. It's a great cheese: a sheep's milk cheese with a tangy, complex flavor. It's not as dry as Parmesan. It's got a sweetness that works so well with the dish. And how does this dish sell in Nashville? It does pretty well. It's not as popular as some of the sal - ads, and the meat dishes. But as soon as diners get past the verbiage—the jowl bacon and such, then it really resonates. It's eggs and bacon. It's what we eat. PHOTO: JAMES BECK Chef Barclay Stratton prepares his original take on pasta carbonara, made with julienned summer squash. Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q:

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