Poached Pear & Chicken Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing
This salad honors America’s oldest cultivated fruit tree, a pear tree from Europe that arrived in the United States around 1630 and was planted in Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts.
For this recipe, we’ve used fresh Bartlett pears poached in bourbon whiskey* and brown sugar to excite the taste buds, making this most memorable flavorsome salad.
Flavor from Unexpected Ingredients
I love summer salads. And I especially get excited when they include a lot of flavor from unexpected ingredients.
One of my favorite fruit alternatives to extended storage apples is fresh Bartlett summer pears. As well as being economical, pears, with their high-fiber content, are excellent for dieters, your heart, and your gut health.
The Star of this Salad - Poached Pears
Early summer pears, when poached, become fork-tender yet hold their shape well. On account of not becoming mushy when poached, pears can take a salad to a whole new level of deliciousness.
For this recipe, I’ve included two options for poaching the pears. Either method uses the poaching liquid by cooking the pears in a small amount of butter, oil, sugar, and spice. Then the liquid reduces into a fantastic glaze used for cooking the chicken tenders.
Both options are easy and delicious.
#1 – (Non-alcoholic reduction) uses lemon, spice, apple cider, and water as the liquid.
#2 – (Alcoholic reduction) uses bourbon whiskey** as the liquid.
If you like pears and chicken, you’ll be amazed by the ton of flavor this salad offers in an easy, simple meal.
*To Sip or not to Sip?
The facts About Bourbon Whiskey and Gluten
Bourbon whiskey is a type of alcohol spirit typically made from at least 51 percent corn, a gluten-free grain. However, the remaining mash for making bourbon (up to 49 percent) generally comes from gluten grains, including wheat, barley, and rye. All of which are the three main gluten grains. So, you would logically think that bourbon whiskey isn’t gluten-free.
But, it depends on who you ask if you’re trying to determine if it is gluten-free.
- According to the National Institutes of Health and several Celiac organizations in the US, distilled alcohol is considered gluten-free because distillation removes the harmful gluten protein up to 20 ppm.
- Opposite to that is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates alcoholic beverages in the U.S. Their policy is that beverages made from gluten grains cannot legally carry the gluten-free claim since gluten (or fragments of the gluten protein) remaining in such drinks may not be detected easily with current technology.
That said, TTB Ruling 2020-2 states that producers can truthfully explain on their labels how the alcohol was manufactured to remove the gluten, as long as it also contains a disclaimer that the product may contain gluten and the labeling is prominent. This advantage is that if an alcoholic drink contains a gluten-free label, you know that no gluten grain is used in any part of the manufacturing process.
What the celiac disease experts say:
- According to most Celiac Disease experts, most whiskey is safe to drink for Celiacs. Their stance is that most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity don’t seem to react to alcohol distilled from gluten grains. Although, it’s not clear how many people get sick from these beverages. It has been documented that a substantial minority react, which is why experts have controversy and disagreement about whether it is safe. Because everyone responds differently, it is advised that people will have to decide to drink or use the beverages at their own risk.
So, is it Yes or No? Can You or Can’t You Use Bourbon?
**Try Bourbon Whiskey with Caution. The bottom line is when drinking any whiskey, or other gluten-containing alcoholic beverages, especially if you have a celiac diagnosis or are sensitive to gluten, go slow. Pick the right time and place. And if you decide to try it, do so when the possible recovery from an adverse effect isn’t going to be a problem.
Poached Pear & Chicken Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing
- Small skillet
Option #1 – Pie Spiced Poached Pears
- Heat oil and butter in a small skillet. Add pears and cook for about 2 minutes or until they are beginning to brown. Sprinkle the pears with the brown sugar and add the remaining ingredients to your chosen option. Turn the pears to coat evenly with the poaching liquid mixture while it reduces. The liquid should be reduced to about half when the pears are fork-tender. Remove the pears to a plate to cool.
- Add the chicken to the skillet with the reduced poaching liquid. Salt and pepper the chicken and cook 2-3 minutes until done, turning the chicken halfway through. Remove the cooked chicken and slice it into bite-size pieces.
- Arrange a layer of baby spinach on a salad plate. Add avocado, cooked chicken pieces, pears, cranberries, and nuts.
- Serve with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing. Enjoy!
(Nutritional values are an approximation. Actual nutritional values may vary due to preparation techniques, variations related to suppliers, regional and seasonal differences, or rounding.)
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