The pronounced tartness of rhubarb has us reaching for sugar to tame it. But you can take advantage of that sour note to punch up a mild chicken dish, using pepper jelly for a touch of sweetness and also heat. With it, you’ll want something to refresh the palate, such as these three wines.
Chicken with rhubarb chutney
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium. Add 1 red onion, chopped; season with salt. Cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 pound rhubarb, chopped; 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger; and 2 tablespoons jarred hot pepper jelly. Lower heat; simmer, 5 minutes. Pound 4 chicken breast halves 1/2-inch thick; dredge lightly in flour. Season with salt. Saute chicken in olive oil in a skillet, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 6 minutes. Serve with rhubarb chutney. Makes: 4 servings
Pairings by sommelier Arthur Hon of Sepia, as told to Michael Austin:
2015 Chateau Pigoudet Cuvee Classic, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, France: Pairing the rhubarb chutney in this dish is tricky. There’s also hot pepper jelly, tartness and a hint of sweetness. When in doubt, rosé usually does the trick. This wine will pair nicely with the sour, spicy and sweet, and the moderate weight of chicken is totally suitable for a rosé that is texturally pleasing with plenty of acidity, like this one.
2014 Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon: This New World expression of pinot gris from Oregon is really easy-drinking, and it’s great with food. The slight residual sugar in the wine, and its elevated acidity, will balance the dish’s acidity and spice heat. The caramelization of the chicken also echoes the round texture of the wine, making for an effortless pairing.
2011 Librandi Duca Sanfelice Ciro Riserva, Calabria, Italy: Some southern Italian red wines are made without the treatment of oak, which makes them very food-and-wine friendly. This dish’s acidity and heat create an interesting pairing challenge. Made of the gaglioppo grape variety, this wine boasts vibrant acidity along with spiced aromas and flavors of cracked black pepper. It will complement the overall flavors of the dish while not butting heads with the spicy pepper jelly.
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Credit: Courtesy Roman United / Jason Getz