BLT – Chicago Tomato Fest


This creation is our response to the Chicago Tomato Fest BLT challenge that is taking place at a good handful of Chicago restaurants for the next month or so.

I have to say I was pretty stumped on this one.

There is a big side of me that says, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
On the other hand, it’s engaging to reconsider something so common. I also felt most colleagues weren’t going to bend too far out on the common theme – other than maybe just substitute the bacon for some other protein. I almost – and maybe should have – prepared an MLT – Mutton, Lettuce, & Tomato sandwich in honor of Miracle Max from The Princess Bride.

Anyhow, the above dish started by thinking about an amatriciana sauce (sauce with tomatoes & guanciale). But then I couldn’t decide how to get the bread into it without simply making a sandwich. So that led to an Italian theme… which led to ravioi… then finally to cannelloni. In the end (at least for now) the dish is this:

Spigarello (lettuce) from Nichols Farm, filled inside of  brioche (bread), wrapped in Slagel Farm’s Bacon, and an arrabiatta sauce of Leaning Shed heirloom tomatoes.

I began with reasoning with myself that pasta is a dough and consists of pretty much the same ingredients as bread, right?
But though it kind of made sense, it still seemed too much a stretch.
Jens convinced me to go with the brioche and it worked well enough. In the end, I have a hard time calling it a BLT on the menu as I’m not sure our guests will ‘get it’.  I’m not sure if I even do.

I doubt it will be as popular a re-interpretation as the The Lobster Dog or Buffalo-ed Wings were, but we’ll let the diners get their 2 cents in on it.

5 Responses to “BLT – Chicago Tomato Fest”

  1. Olika says:

    The BLT has been one of my recent cravings, so I’m already drooling over the screen. Bonus points for sticking with the original ingredients!

  2. It sounds delicious, and looks beautiful, but I do see what you mean about it being a stretch to call it a BLT. I’m almost there except for the spigarello, which, when you come down to it, is broccoli, not lettuce. So it’s a BBT.

    • Phillip Foss says:

      I guess it depends on your definition of lettuce being a leaf or something that needs to be eaten raw.
      Either way, I like the way the robust spigarello cuts through the bacon. I hope I’m not disqualified!

  3. Kenny says:

    Sounds OK to me, but I must admit that I’d rather have either a BLT or some canneloni. And I’m with Leah – it’s too big a stretch to call spigarello lettuce.

    The beauty of a BLT is how the many textural contrasts end up complementing each other. In this, though the bacon probably provides a bit of crunch, the rest sounds texturally one-dimensional. And where’s the mayo?

    You’re the master of croquettes – you make ‘em better than anyone in town. I bet you could have put that mastery to work to create a tremendous BLT reinterpretation.

    • Phillip Foss says:

      Though it’s hard for me to swallow this bitter tablet, I have to admit that you are right.
      I initially thought that the mayo croquette would be unnecessary embellishment, but it actually helped to bring the dish together as it was sitting a little flat on the plate.
      All in all I’m looking forward to just taking it off the menu. Somethings are left better left un-fucked around with.

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