Unlikely pairings

We here in The Musing Bouche household aren’t huge pasta-eaters. We’ll have it on occasion, but the fact is that we despise jarred sauce and boxed noodles too much for pasta to ever be a quick meal (mac n’ cheese, however, is another story).  When we do have pasta,  I usually try and keep it simple- some butter and truffled cheese, anchovies or simple tomato sauce. What can I say? I don’t have a drop of Italian in me.

That said, a few weeks ago, Chicky and I were messing around with some pheasants. Wanting something flavorful, but simple, Chicky suggested that we copy one of our favorite dishes at Tapeo– the Cordoniz de Castilla, a broiled herb and garlic quail stuffed with grapes and bacon. (Side note: this dish is also on the menu at Tapeo’s sister restaurant Dali in Cambridge.) Pheasants are rather larger than quail though, and after stuffing and cooking the birds, we found ourselves with substantially more bacony-garlicky-grapey goodness than you get in the tapa-sized version. It was, however, delicious, cooking down into a lovely brown sauce that was sweet and salty at the same time.

It wasn’t long before I wanted some more of that sauce. Without a game bird on hand, I decided to make it and serve it over homemade peppered pappardelle. It was very nearly perfect. The oil from the bacon (and a little extra olive oil) soaks up the grape and garlic flavors and coats the pasta, ensuring that every bite is delicious. It is dead simple to make, and would probably liven up boxed noodles enough to be worth making as a “quick” meal.  I also imagine this would be good over roast (skin on) chicken thighs.

We’ll call this one “Pasta Castilla” after the quail dish at Tapeo.
Serves 4

4 TB olive oil
1/2 lb bacon, sliced into lardons
1 head of garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
10 oz grapes, sliced in half

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and stir. When the bacon started to go limp and sweat its fat, add the garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the garlic starts to turn brown and caramelize. Add the grapes and stir to combine. Cook until garlic is browned through and grapes are limp.

Serve over pasta or chicken or whatever else you think would be tasty.

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