Memorial Day, which signifies the unofficial beginning of the summer season in the United States, is Monday, May 26. With the warmer weather and more casual dining styles that the summer season ushers in, it's the perfect time to start packing a bottle or two of rosé into your picnic basket. Below, we've recommended a handful of recently-rated rosés.
To go with the wines, we've also provided recipes for two dishes that match particularly well with rosé. The fried chicken is equally tasty straight out of the fryer, or cold, from the picnic basket (just skip the gravy). The shrimp salad can also travel well in a cooler or insulated picnic basket, providing you peel and slice the fruits ahead of time and hold the dressing until just before serving. Add a blanket, a corkscrew and a couple of non-breakable glasses and you've got a portable summer party. Enjoy!
SHRIMP, PANCETTA AND TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD
• 3 slices pancetta or bacon
• 12 ounces peeled, cooked and chilled shrimp
• 1/2 red bell pepper, cored and finely diced
• 1 rib celery, very finely diced
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
• Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup ranch or other buttermilk-based salad dressing
• 2 small ripe papayas or medium-sized mangoes (or one of each)
• 6 very thin slices red onion, separated into rings
1. Fry the pancetta until browned and crisp. Drain it well on paper towels and crumble it coarsely. Set it aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, peppers, celery, parsley, salt and salad dressing. Toss the mixture well.
3. Shortly before serving, peel and seed the papayas or mangoes. Cut them in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
4. Divide the papaya slices among six small salad plates, arranging them into a fan. Divide the salad among the plates, placing a mound of it over the unfanned end of the papaya slices. Sprinkle the salad with the crumbled pancetta and a few onion rings. Serves 6.
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN WITH CREAMY GRAVY
• 1 whole chicken, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
• 2 cups buttermilk
• 3 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning gravy
• 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more for seasoning gravy
• 3/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 1/2 tablespoons for gravy
• 3 to 4 cups vegetable shortening, or a combination of lard and shortening and bacon fat
• 2 cups milk
• 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
1. Cut the chicken into 9 or 10 pieces: 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings (tips removed), 2 breast halves, the back and, if desired, the wishbone.
2. Pour the buttermilk into a baking dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne, if using. Add chicken pieces, coat thoroughly, and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
3. Combine the flour, the remaining 2 teaspoons of the salt, 1 teaspoon of the pepper and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, if using, in a paper or plastic bag. Drain the chicken, and shake, one piece at a time, in the flour mixture. Place the coated pieces on a plate.
4. Heat the shortening in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. (It should reach a depth of about 1/2 inch when melted.) When the oil is hot, but not smoking (no more than 370° F on a deep-fry thermometer), add the chicken, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. (You may need 2 skillets, or you can cook the chicken in batches, keeping the cooked chicken warm in a low-heated oven.) Cook the chicken until golden-brown on all sides, then reduce the heat to medium-low (the fat should still be bubbling). Cover the pan, and cook, turning pieces periodically, until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 22 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Transfer the chicken to paper bags, paper towels or a clean wire rack set over a baking sheet, and let drain.
5. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet, retaining the browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom. Return the skillet to the stove, over medium heat. Add remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons flour to the pan, whisking until a smooth roux forms. Whisk in the milk. Bring gravy to a simmer, and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and flavorful, about 5 minutes. Season, and add parsley, if using. Serve with the warm gravy on the side, if using. Serves 4.
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