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What the Hay?! Barnyard Staple Grass Becoming Hot Haute Dining Item

From Chris Nuttall-Smith, The Wall Street Journal: A growing number of top kitchens across North America and Europe are harnessing hay's comforting, pastoral quality in their dishes. They're using it to lend grassy, autumnal, haute-barnyard goodness to whole poached hams, for smoking veal chops and sweetbreads, as a smoky and strangely familiar seasoning powder for meats and fish and even to flavor whipping cream for dessert. Many professional kitchens source their hay from egg and meat producers; for obvious reasons it's worth finding stuff that's fresh, organic and unused. Fergus Henderson, the London-based nose-to-tail pioneer and co-chef behind St. John Bar and Restaurant, suggests home cooks get it at the pet store. Chances are it's the only ingredient du jour you'll ever find next to the Friskies.

Alinea, Chicago
Chef Grant Achatz was an early hay adopter; his creations include "hay brulée," made with cream that's steeped with hay, and toasted hay sauce, served with caramelized cauliflower and burnt bread puree.

Aquavit, New York
This iconic Scandinavian room's sweetbreads smoked over smoldering hay and served with parsnips and apple cider have become a minor sensation in the last year. Chef Marcus Jernmark also uses hay ashes to give fiery depth to the restaurant's meats.

Manzo, New York
Mario Batali's beef-focused restaurant in the Eataly emporium grills a 22-ounce, milk-fed veal chop until it's caramelized, then finishes it in the oven, buried in a smoking bed of rosemary, thyme and hay from an egg supplier upstate. The taste? "Barnyardy, without being overpowering," one Manzo cook said. "It reminds you where the veal came from." Noma, Denmark
René Redzepi, the young and wickedly influential genius behind the Copenhagen restaurant recently voted best in the world, smokes quail eggs in hay, combines toasted hay and grapeseed oil into a finishing drizzle and serves hay-infused whipped cream with carrot cake powder and lingonberry sorbet.

St. John Bar and Restaurant, London
Though the menu at this beloved off-cuts and organ meats specialist changes daily, the ham poached in hay, based on a French countryside classic, is a recurring feature. A bonus, chef Fergus Henderson has said, is that it fills the kitchen with "rustic" smell.

The Hoof Café, Toronto
At Hogtown's carnivore breakfast mecca, chef Geoffrey Hopgood wraps brined hams in wet hay then cooks them sous-vide, before finishing them on a griddle. They're intensely juicy, with mellow notes of nuts and grass.

Read More: Wall Street Journal

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