Summer sherry pairing – smoked chicken and peach salad with Amontillado
For a fleeting few weeks here in Scotland, the weather is lovely enough that I don’t want to waste a moment in a hot kitchen. I want to throw something together quickly, that tastes fabulous and fresh. That calls for a salad, but something a bit more interesting and substantial than ‘rabbit food’.
This is my all-time favourite salad, combining robust smoky and bitter tastes with the delicious perfumed flavour of ripe peaches. I’ve been making and eating this salad for a couple of years but the sherry pairing is brand new for today. A few weeks ago, one of my sherry-making friends, Rocio from Bodegas Urium, said that peaches went brilliantly with Amontillado. I admit, I wasn’t convinced – in my head it didn’t seem like a good pairing. But she makes the stuff – she ought to know, right? It turns out that she does!
So once I’d discovered the joy of peach and Amontillado, it was a very short leap of imagination to pair it with this salad. Smoked chicken is a strong umami flavour that’s made for sherry too.
The recipe is more of a construction list than a real recipe:
- Dark bitter salad leaves, such as rocket, watercress, spinach – today I used rocket
- Smoked chicken breast – the amount depends on how hungry you are, I used one large one for two servings
- Ripe peach, sliced thinly – I used one per person
For the dressing, I sometimes just sprinkle with a little oil and sherry vinegar, but today I made the following dressing:
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mango chutney
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
I whisked them together and dressed the leaves before building the salad.
I paired the salad with Vina AB, Gonzalez Byass’s classic Amontillado, which is fed by the Tio Pepe solera. It’s an excellent everyday Amontillado, with a strong nod to its Fino roots combined with a lovely nuttiness from its time in contact with oxygen. It received a ‘Commended’ at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Amontillado’s complexity and dry savouriness make it an excellent counterpoint for both the strong smoky chicken and the juicy, scented peach. A sweet and savoury flavour explosion!
Ingredient note: the smoked chicken was produced by Rannoch Smokery It’s available in larger supermarkets in the UK.