Summary: Any long pasta will work for this wonderful dish, so if you can't find bucatini, feel free to substitute mafaldine, spaghetti or the like. The caramelized Brussels sprouts and shallots concentrate in flavor and soften just enough to provide a slight textural contrast to the pasta. The sherry offers a touch of sweetness that perfectly matches the savoriness of the veggies and the speck. The dish is subtle yet each bite suffuses your mouth with flavor. Sublime!
Yield: two entree-size portions
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon bacon drippings
- 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed; roughly 24 leaves removed whole and set aside; the remaining sprouts shredded
- 1 cup peeled and slivered shallots
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 ounce speck, diced
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¾ - 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 10 ounces bucatini, mafaldine or another long pasta
Fill a pasta pot with water, salt it generously, cover and set over medium high heat. Bring to a boil while you prepare the rest of the dish.
In a small pot set over medium-high heat, pour the quarter-cup of olive oil. When it's bubbling, add the smashed clove of garlic and the 24 Brussels sprouts leaves. Fry the leaves lightly before removing them with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. Remove the pot from heat and let the garlic infuse the oil.
In a 12" cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat, pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the bacon drippings. When warm, add the shredded Brussels sprouts, slivered shallots, kosher salt and six or seven good turns of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine everything and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for eight minutes. Then, pour in the sherry to deglaze the pan; stir, and then add the diced speck. Stir to combine well, and reduce the heat to low. Add the cream and half of the Parmesan to the mix, and stir to combine.
In the meantime, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just done. When it's done, drain the pasta and add to the skillet of veggies. Toss to evenly coat the pasta with the sprouts-shallots-speck mix. Top with the remaining Parmesan and the fried Brussels sprouts leaves. Drizzle with some of the garlicky oil. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if need be. Enjoy immediately!