Pairings: Smoky bacon, cheese complement grenache


Suave, silken, satiny, sexy, sensational and laced with spice: This is our Wine of the Week, Clos de Gilroy 2016 Central Coast Grenache ($20). It is a grenache that lovers of pinot noir will appreciate, as it mirrors certain qualities of that wily varietal, especially its taffetta-on-velvet texture.

Core flavors are all about berries and cherries, beautifully balanced and integrated with threads of sweet spice, from anise and allspice to a slight suggestion of nutmeg.

Two other attributes are noteworthy: Alcohol weighs in at just 13.1 percent, which keeps the wine food friendly. Its price is appealing, too; the wine stands alongside wines triple the cost.

At the table, you’ll enjoy it with rare lamb, Provençal daubes, pissaladiere and salade Niçoise made with fresh tuna cooked rare. Classic spaghetti and meatballs is another great option, and so is that Roman classic, Spaghetti Carbonara.

Vegetarians will enjoy this lively quaffer with spaghetti squash dressed with good olive oil, garlic, Italian parsley, and Vella Dry Jack or similar cheese. Parsnip puree is a good match, too. When spring onion season begins, which will be soon, grill the onions, season them with nothing more than black pepper, and enjoy a glass of this wine alongside. You, the onions, and the wine itself will soar.

Today’s dish is voluptuous and warming, with just enough smoke from the bacon to coax out the subtle smoky elements in the wine.

The macaroni and cheese sold at concessions in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal is a type popularized in the ‘50s and is more of a macaroni with cheese sauce than the real thing, closer to Kraft than what your grandma might have made.

It will do in a pinch, but if you want to indulge, you might as well make the richest version possible. This recipes comes as close as any I’ve found.

Sauteed Swiss chard or steamed fresh spinach makes an excellent accompaniment.

Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Serves 3 to 4

1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons Coleman’s dry mustard

2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

— Kosher salt

12 ounces ditalini, tubetti, or other small pasta shape

4 ounces bacon

2 cups heavy cream

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 pounds cheddar cheese, medium or sharp, grated

— Black pepper in a mill

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon bacon fat

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Warm a medium-sized clay baking dish by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for about 10 minutes.

Dry the inside and rub it with the garlic, pressing the clove firmly against the clay. Apply the butter to the inside of the cooker after rubbing it with the garlic.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard and Tabasco sauce until smooth. Set aside and let rest 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan two-thirds full with water, season generously with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir until the water returns to a boil, and cook according to package directions until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

Cook the bacon until it is fully crisp and drain it on absorbent paper. Chop it or crumble it with your fingers and set it aside. Reserve the bacon fat for another use.

Add the cream and the eggs to the bowl with the mustard and Tabasco, mix well, and fold in about two-thirds of the cheese.

Fold in the pasta, add the bacon and the remaining cheese and season generously black pepper. Taste and correct for salt.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and spread the breadcrumbs over the top. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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