Dry Sack Sherry: A Flavor Enhancer for Cooking at Home

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Dry Sack, one of the world’s leading medium dry sherries, produced by Spain’s venerable Williams & Humbert, is a popular aperitif served chilled or on the rocks to prime one’s palate before dinner. In cooking, Dry Sack is a key ingredient that enhances flavor in soups and many savory dishes. While the majority of sherry usage is for drinking, it has always had a place in the kitchen and is known to be a staple ingredient in many classic dishes such as soups and stews. Sherry can be used in a variety of cuisines and dishes, from the traditional to the ethnic.

At the top of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago, Patrick Sheerin, Executive Chef of The Signature Room restaurant uses Dry Sack in his lobster bisque. "We use Dry Sack sherry in two applications for our lobster bisque.  Traditionally, sherry is served on the side with the bisque, so we wanted to incorporate the sweetness and rich nuances that pair very well with the lobster in the production portion of the soup. To incorporate the sherry ‘on the side’, we make an agar gel of the sherry with really nice aged sherry vinegar and a local maple syrup so there are bright flavor pockets of the gelee in the soup. Dry Sack was selected because it is a tasty sherry that is well-made and affordable.  As a wine to cook with it adds a lot of nuance to a dish in the reduction stages that translate to a well balanced sweetness at the end."

Sheerin added, "When you are cooking classic dishes with reductions-like with sherry or any alcohol for that matter, the beverage has to taste good, but it also has to have structure so that its nuances are showcased in the reduction process.  Cook off a bottle of Dry Sack sherry and as it cooks down, the alcohol dissipates, and you are left with these beautiful flavors of maple syrup, smoke and wood that also offer sweetness. I think that’s what hooked me… those flavors on the nose."

Dry Sack is a distinctive blend of Palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes that undergoes fractional blending under Spain’s time honored solera system and is aged for six years in oak casks. The aromas are in the style of an amontillado sherry: a fragrant nut aroma and delicate nut taste with just a hint of sweetness.

Dry Sack’s name is taken from the Shakespearean word for Sherry, "sack." Williams & Humbert has the exclusive rights to use the word sack in the brand’s name. Dry Sack’s distinctive burlap cloth sack packaging also sets it apart. Williams & Humbert first started producing Dry Sack in 1906. Today it is the world’s top selling sherry brand. A bottle of Dry Sack retails for approximately $16.00 (750 ml.) and is 19.5% alcohol by volume.

Dry Sack Sherry and Soy Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings wings

3 pounds chicken drumettes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups Dry Sack sherry

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons apricot preserves

3 cloves garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Hot sauce

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion, optional

Arrange 2 racks about 4-inches apart in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Generously oil 2 rimmed baking sheets or roasting pans.

Arrange the drumettes on the baking sheets and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the Dry Sack, soy sauce, preserves and garlic in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in the sesame oil and hot sauce to taste and set aside in the saucepan.

Remove the trays from the oven; carefully spoon 1/4 cup of the hot sherry mixture over the wings to coat the tops and roast another 15 minutes.

Remove the trays from the oven; turn the wings and spoon 1/4 cup sherry mixture to cot the surface. Return the trays to the oven reversing their positions on the two racks. Roast 15 to 20 minutes longer to an internal temperature of 180°F.

Return the sherry mixture to a boil. Loosen the wings from the trays with a spatula and transfer them to a large bowl; toss them with 1/4 cup of the hot sherry mixture and arrange on a serving plate.

Stir the sherry vinegar and scallion, if desired, into the remaining hot sherry mixture and use for a dipping sauce.

Dry Sack Stuffed Mushrooms

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mushroom capsTwo 8-ounce packages Baby Bella (crimini) mushrooms

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup Dry Sack sherry

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons butter

2-cups 1/4-inch cubes firm white bread (3 to 4 slices)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms; chop the stems and set aside. Toss the mushroom caps with 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons Dry Sack in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems, scallions, and bell pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes until the onion begins to brown.

Add the remaining 3/4 cup Dry Sack and the butter; cook until there appears to be about 1/4 cup liquid in the pan. Stir in the bread cubes, salt and pepper.

Arrange the mushroom caps, open side up, on the baking sheet and divide the bread mixture into them. Bake the stuffed mushrooms about 15 minutes until the bread cubes begin to brown. Serve immediately or cool 15 to 20 minutes and serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Dry Sack Sherry Bread Pudding with Oloroso Sauce

bread pudding3/4 cup Dry Sack sherry

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups 1-inch squares firm white bread (about 4 slices)

1/2 cup chocolate chunks

Dry Sack Oloroso Butter Sauce, Dry Sack Oloroso Cream Sauce, or Sherry Whipped Cream, recipes follow.

Bring the Dry Sack, brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl. Gradually beat in the milk and cream. When the Dry Sack mixture has cooled, stir it into the egg mixture along with the bread and chocolate; set aside 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish. Stir the bread mixture and transfer it to the buttered baking dish. Place the baking dish in a larger baking pan and pour hot water into the pan around the dish. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until the center has set and the top is nicely browned.

Meanwhile, make one of the Oloroso sauces or Sherry Whipped Cream. Serve the bread pudding warm with a sauce or whipped cream.

Dry Sack Oloroso Butter Sauce: Whisk together 1 cup Dry Sack Oloroso Sherry, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cook until thick.

Dry Sack Oloroso Cream Sauce: Whisk together 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup milk, 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Dry Sack Oloroso Sherry.

Dry Sack Oloroso Whipped Cream: Whip 1/2 cup heavy cream with 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon Dry Sack Oloroso Sherry.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Simple Lobster Bisque

bisque

1-2 cups fresh lobster meat

1/3 cup Dry Sack sherry

¼ cup butter

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

salt and pepper to taste

In small bowl, combine lobster and Dry Sack. Set aside.

In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour; stir until smooth and bubbling.

Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.

Continue cooking and stirring until mixture is thick.

Mix in Worcestershire Sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Add lobster and Dry Sack mixture.

Cover and simmer

Serve with a glass of chilled Dry Sack on the side.

Braised Pheasant Thighs with Caramelized Root Vegetables

By Chef Ken Arnone

Ingredients

2 ounces olive oil 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil

3 pounds pheasant thighs, boneless * 8 ounces rutabaga, baton, blanched

10 ounces Dry Sack 8 ounces celeriac, baton, blanched

5 cups pheasant stock 8 ounces. butternut squash, baton, blanched

3 each thyme sprigs 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 tsp. juniper berries 1 tablespoon sage, chopped

1 each bay leaf

Salt and pepper as needed

Garnish

Mini potato chips, smoked almonds, chopped

Season the pheasant thighs with salt and pepper on both sides

Pre-heat a saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and lightly render and brown the skin side of the pheasant thighs, remove from the pan and reserve

Deglaze the pan with the Dry Sack and reduce by half, add the pheasant stock, thyme, juniper, and bay leaf-bring to a simmer

Place the thighs, skin up, in a roasting pan and add the hot stock. The stock should cover the thighs completely.

Cover with foil and place I a 275-degree oven. Cook until fork tender, about 2 ½ hours

Strain the stock and lightly thicken to sauce consistency with roux or cornstarch.

Sauté the root vegetables in extra virgin olive oil until lightly caramelized and hot throughout. Add the herbs and season to taste.

*May substitute chicken thighs

About Williams & Humbert, Makers of Dry Sack

Based in Jerez de la Frontera in the region of Andalucia, Williams & Humbert is the largest winery in Europe with more than 1200 acres of vineyards. Other sherries in Williams & Humbert portfolio include Dry Sack Especial 15-year-old rare- aged sherry, Dos Cortados Rare Old Palo Cortado Especal 20-year-old sherry, Don Guido Rare Old Sweet Solera Especial, aged a minimum of 20 years, Jalifa Rare Old Amontillado Solera Especial, aged a minimum of 30 years. Wiliams & Humbert also produces Gran Duque de Alba Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez, Crema de Alba crème liqueur, Dos Maderas dual aged rum and Dos Maderas PX. All are importers by Kindred Spirits of North America, Miami. http://www.kindredspiritsusa.com.

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