recipes with wine pairings

Pasta recipe w/ chicken & BACON, requested by Diane


Before I even get started on this recipe and wine pairing… Am I the only one that sometimes when I hear the word bacon I look down at the ground and whisper “bacon” to myself, a la Brick from “The Middle”? Oh ok, you do it too? That’s what I figured.

So I received a request for a specific dish that’s shown in my Food Porn section (shown above). When I made this dish a couple of weeks back I posted the pic on Facebook not really expecting much reaction, but surprisingly the feed back was great. Go figure that what I jokingly refer to as a kitchen sink dish (everything laying around in the house at that moment) was so well received.

Anyway, you asked and here it is Diane!

Spaghetti tossed with chicken breast, bacon, white onion & garlic,
in a dry Madeira cream and garnished with roasted sunflower seeds and charred sprouts.

Serves 4

1lb Spaghetti
2tsp Olive oil
1tbsp Unsalted butter
1/2lb Bacon, diced in medium sized pieces
2 Boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed into medium sized pieces
1/2c Flour, seasoned with 1tsp each salt, pepper & garlic powder
4oz Brussel sprouts, shaved
1 Medium white onion, sliced
4 Cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4c Unsalted sunflower seeds
1 1/2tsp Salt
1tsp Ground black pepper
1tsp Onion powder
3/4c Dry Madeira wine
1 1/2c Chicken stock
1c Heavy cream
1/4c Grated parmesan


For the bacon, chicken, etc. you can use a large sautee pan. I personally prefer to use a sauce pot to keep some of the splatter from the bacon from making a mess on the stove, and also it makes it easier when adding the pasta later. Your call, but in the instructions I will be using a sauce pot.

Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pot on high, add bacon. While the bacon is cooking dredge your cubed chicken in the seasoned flour, shake off any excess. Once the bacon begins to crisp (DO NOT drain the rendered bacon fat) add your floured chicken cubes. Brown the cubes on one side and flip, then add your garlic and onion, sprinkle with 1tsp salt, pepper and onion powder. Once the onions and garlic begin to brown add dry Madeira. Allow to reduce by half then add chicken stock, reduce heat to medium-low, stir in heavy cream, and allow to simmer.

Bring salted water to a boil in a separate sauce pot to boil Spaghetti. Cook for two minutes less than the time shown on the box’s instructions.

Bring a separate sautee pan or small sauce pot to a medium high heat and toast your sunflower seeds. Be very careful, they can burn easily if you’re not attentive. Stir frequently. Once the sunflower seeds start to brown add butter and shaved brussel sprouts. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2tsp of salt. Cook until both the sunflower seeds and sprouts are slightly charred. Set aside.

Drain semi-cooked pasta and add to the sauce pot that is simmering with the primary ingredients, stir in along with parmesan cheese. Increase heat to medium-high and continue to simmer with for three minutes.

Plate the pasta and top with the charred sprouts and sunflower seeds.


Alright, so wine pairings… The one twist here is the Madeira cream. Being that it’s a dry Madeira it’s not overly sweet, but there is a hint of brown sugary/molasses goodness hiding in there, very very subtle but it’s there. So when deciding on your wine you have to take that into account, along with the smoky characteristic of the bacon, the earth tones of the sprouts and sunflower seeds, and the richness of the cream.

Survey says……. Pinot Noir, specifically Pinot Noir from Carneros. Carneros is this great little region that straddles the lower portions of both Sonoma and Napa, right along the bay. Good Pinots from this region tend to be simultaneously complex yet well balanced. Typical characteristics are notes of dark cherry, hints of raspberry, and cola, with moderate acidity, earth tone and pantry spice, and subtle tannins giving some backbone… last but not least, the signature note for Carneros Pinots, there is a very distinct smokiness to the wines. This is the main reason that Carneros Pinots are one of my favorite wines to pair with bacon.

So let’s break this down so you can really see where I’m going with this.

1. The moderate acidity will help cut through the richness of the cream sauce.
2. The notes of dark cherry and slightly sweet cola will pair nicely with hints of sweetness from the dry Madeira.
3. The smokiness with pair perfectly with the bacon as well as the bacon flavors that the chicken took on from cooking in the rendered fat.
4. The earth and spice notes with play well with the sprouts and seeds.

Winner, winner, bacon & chicken dinner!

So who do I recommend? Here’s my list…

Sean Minor Carneros Pinot Noir – I specified Carneros on here because my boy Sean also has a Central Coast Pinot Noir under his Four Bears label. Bang for the buck you can not go wrong with this Pinot. It’s typically under $20 on the shelf but drinks higher than that, and can be found in just about every major market. It’s not large scale production, but there is enough to go around.

Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir – So this is a step up in price point, you’ll find it in the mid-$30’s. A very good wine, slightly fuller bodied than the Sean Minor with a bit more ripe fruit. I would probably lean more towards Sean, but I’m trying to give options here… lol.

Robert Stemmler Carneros Estate Pinot Noir – I’ve been a fan of the Stemmler lineup (owned by the Racke family since Robert retired in the late 80’s) for some time now. Theye have an entry level Carneros Pinot that is pretty darn good, but the Estate Pinot is fantastic. Dark, medium bodied and gorgeously complex spice notes. This is harder to find, with only 1,600 cases made per vintage, give or take, and it will run you somewhere in the $40’s to low $50’s. They don’t have distribution in many states or outside of the US, so for most of you (including me!) you have to order this directly from the winery.

So that’s $0.02! Enjoy.

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