Virginia Ham and Peanut Pasta Toss

Recipe courtesy of Mark Bratton (Christiansburg, VA)

Virginia Ham and Peanut Pasta Toss is a classic Carbonara gone wild–hog wild, that is! Nothing represents the flavor and tradition of the Commonwealth like Virginia Country Ham and Virginia peanuts. Balancing these savory ingredients with sweet green beans and a creamy gouda fondue creates a pasta dish that satisfies and delights the palate.

4 pounds Barilla Linguine
4 ounces minced shallots
3 ounces minced garlic
4 cups white wine
2 tablespoons chicken base
6 cups water
4 ounces cornstarch
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups heavy cream
2 pounds shredded Gouda cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces roasted unsalted Virginia peanuts
2 ounces peanut oil
1 teaspoon honey
pinch kosher salt
3 pounds bias cut French green beans
12 ounces olive oil
3 pounds julienned Virginia country ham
1 1/2 pounds roasted, coarsely chopped unsalted Virginia peanuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
24 pieces split baby carrots

Cook the Barilla pasta for half the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in a walk-in cooler. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic contain refrigerate and use within several hours.

To make the fondue:

  1. In a large sauce pot, combine the shallots, garlic, 4 cups wine, chicken base, and water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Continue to simmer and reduce the volume by 2/3.
  2. Combine the 1/2 cup wine with the cornstarch. Stir the cornstarch slurry in to thicken the reduced liquid. Add the cream, cheeses, and pepper; bring back to a simmer. After the cheese has melted, puree using an immersion blender or food processor until creamy. Ensure that a temperature of 165°F has been reached. Transfer the fondue to a serving dish and hold at 140°F or higher for service.

Lightly steam the green beans; cool them in ice water and set aside.

To make the peanut garnish: Combine the peanuts, oil, honey, and salt in a food processor or blender. Puree until creamy, about 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Transfer to a container with a lid.

For each serving, to order:

  1. Reheat 1 1/3 cups linguine in simmering water.
  2. Saute 2 ounces ham with 1 tablespoon oil until slightly golden. Add 1 ounce nuts and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 ounces beans, the drained pasta, and 4 ounces cheese fondue. Sprinkle with herbs and stir to heat through.
  3. Garnish each plate with a brush of the peanut garnish. Twirl the pasta into a haystack opposite the garnish. Sprinkle with additional herbs and 1 split carrot.