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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sherry

Excellent Ingredient of the week
Sherry! It’s a great ingredient to keep in your pantry.

A fortified wine that originated in the town of Jerez (pronounced Sherish) in southern Spain, hence the English word sherry. To help Sherry stay stabilized during early ocean voyages, brandy was added to the wine. This is why Sherry is now a fortified (alcohol-added) wine. Sherry is a blended wine of several years, not a single vintage wine. Sherry is usually considered an aperitif. There are dry sherries that can be served chilled, and sweet sherries for room temperature.

So-called "cooking Sherry" has added preservatives (salt) to increase its shelf-life (blech!) and is not suitable for drinking. I never use cooking sherry ... what if I want to drink it?

Some say Sherry is under-appreciated but I appreciate it. In cooking it is great to add to sautéing mushrooms or onions. It is a superb way to finish soups like split pea or lentil. It's great reduced to a syrup and used in salad dressings. Here is a classic chicken dish using Sherry:

Chicken in Sherry

Ingredients
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 lemon
4 carrots
4 zucchini squashes, julienned

Procedure
Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag with flour, salt, and pepper. Seal bag and shake to coat. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken on each side for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove from skillet and set aside. In same skillet, combine sherry, broth, garlic and a squeeze of lemon and bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. In the meantime, saute carrots and zucchini in a separate medium skillet until they are tender. Add to simmering chicken and sauce and heat through before serving. Yum!