This month I have some exciting news! Kendall Harris (creator of Wine2three) has joined our team and agreed to be our resident wine expert! She will be on hand each month to suggest the perfect wine to sip alongside the cover recipes. You can read more about Kendall and find out about her pairing suggestion for this month’s cover at the end of the post. Also, new contributing writer and my fellow Muffin Monday blogger, Aimée White, will be keeping me company and cooking up covers each month. Be sure to visit her blog to see how she fared with this month’s recipe!
Thai Chicken & Watermelon Salad
Rating: 5 out of 5 (refreshing, addictive & FULL of flavour)
Initial Thoughts: What a beautifully plated appetizer! Looks like it would be a great dish for entertaining.
THE TEST: The photograph on September’s cover of Food & Wine Magazine portrays this salad as a beautiful entertaining option, and let me tell ya – the pic doesn’t lie! This recipe is so incredibly easy to throw together it’s what I like to call a non-stresser dish, plus you can assemble everything ahead of time and simply toss the chicken on the grill at the last minute.
I opted to use boneless/skinless chicken thighs instead of the chicken breast called for in the recipe, as you can hammer the meat on the grill and mistakes are forgiven much more easily. I always find chicken breasts dry out too quickly on the BBQ for my taste.
While the meat marinates (mixture of olive oil, lemongrass and salt and pepper) you can assemble the dressing. In fact, I would recommend making it ahead of time in order to give the ingredients a chance to mellow and fuse together harmoniously. The dressing itself calls for some pretty heavy hitters in the flavour department, including Thai chilies, garlic, brown sugar, fresh lime juice and fish sauce. It wasn’t until the last minute that I realized I didn’t have fish sauce (what the heck?!) and ended up using oyster sauce instead. I checked online to see if this would be an appropriate substitute, but couldn’t find a resounding ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to my question. So I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best…
THE RESULTS: I’m not sure how much power my crossed fingers held in the end result, but this salad was a HUGE success at our dinner party! Hot. Cool. Refreshing. Flavourful. The variety of strong flavours literally danced across our taste buds! The watermelon held its own alongside the spice in the salad, cooling your mouth enough to the extent you could keep going back for more. The oyster sauce gave the dressing depth but was in no way overly fishy (whew!) and the mint and cilantro lent a wonderful freshness to the whole dish. Everything just came together beautifully and I cannot wait to make this recipe again.
I must admit that my salad did not even come close to looking as pretty as the picture. Personally, I blame my missing melon baller and the ineffectiveness of my ice cream scoop as a pinch hitter. Oh well. Definitely didn’t take anything away from the taste!
Because we had kids eating with us, I served the salad with the dressing on the side. This worked out well as people were able to drizzle as much/little as they wanted. If you are unsure how much heat your guest can handle this might be a good way of avoiding any unwanted calamities, because wowsa does that dressing have a kick!
Thai Chicken & Watermelon Salad
First thing to remember when you’re pairing food & wine is to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. Light foods should be paired with lighter wines, and this beautiful meal is definitely on the lighter side, so immediately, you can rule out heavy, full bodied red wines – this dish is calling out for a white wine or Rosé! With this dish I would recommend a Riesling, specifically one that has some beautiful floral & tropical fruit aromas on the nose (when you smell it) and refreshing acidity on the palate (when you sip it): Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Vintage Riesling. This widely available, well priced wine from Washington State is one of the most delicious Rieslings I’ve tasted, and doesn’t have that note of “petrol” or diesel that some Rieslings have; it would pair perfectly with this meal. Cheers!
Kendall Harris shares her adventures in the wine world as Wine2three on Twitter & Facebook. She is WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Advanced Certified & is currently developing a weekly wine series on ShawTV, where she is a full time reporter. Join her on Facebook – click LIKE at www.facebook.com/wine2three for regular fun wine info!
As part of my culinary New Year’s resolutions, I have committed to creating each month’s cover recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.
NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with me and join in on the fun, I’d love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit www.foodandwine.com