Coveting summer’s glossiest jewel.
Spring’s verdant shoots have gone, transitioned to summer’s robust bounty. Sweet cherries, our smallest stone fruit, are the alluring herald, crimson Bings and ivory Rainiers harboring the delights of this easy season.
And the simplicity—unlike other fruits, cherries are picked ripe, so choose the firmest, plumpest, shiniest ones you can find, stems attached, then wash and indulge. If you’re disciplined enough to have leftovers, store them, unrinsed, in a breathable plastic bag in the fridge—but just for a few days. If children, guests, or cooking are involved, pit the fruit with a cherry pitter or, for the industrious or gadget-phobic, the end of a plastic drinking straw.
Deep red to purple Bings are the most widely grown sweet cherry, named for Ah Bing, a 19th Century Chinese-born Wisconsin orchard foreman. The fruit he helped cultivate flourishes now on our own state’s farms and, in the coming weeks, on our menus. Take Chef Lesley Sutter’s sweet cherries in port wine at Flying Pig on Lexington (251 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco 914-666-7445; flyingpigonlex.com); the sauce partners succulent Large Black pork straight from nearby Cabbage Hill Farm. “I love the contrast of sweet cherries with savory proteins,” she says. “The combination of cherries, pork, and port is a flavor trifecta.” And then there’s her oven-roasted cherries embellishing a salad of Cabbage Hill baby greens and creamy Saint-Marcellin cheese. For dessert, her cherry galette, a country grand-mère’s take on a cherry tart. Order a cocktail, and you might find a Brandy-infused cherry glistening within like a jewel. Or just go Sutter’s favorite route and devour the cherries raw, lush, and spilling juice, straight from the bowl.
Ah, Bing indeed!
Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry and Port Compote
(Courtesy of Lesley Sutter, Flying Pig on Lexington)
4 sweet-potato fingerlings
(white fingerlings can be
pinch of ground ginger pinch of cayenne salt and freshly ground
black pepper canola oil, for brushing 1 lb fresh sweet cherries, pitted 1 cup tawny port 2 Tbsp honey 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 8- to 10-oz pork chops,
preferably from Cabbage
Hill Farm extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Preheat oven to 350°F. Season potatoes with ginger, cayenne, salt, and pepper; brush with canola oil. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until tender.
In large pot over medium heat, bring port, honey, vinegar, and cherries to simmer. Cook until cherries are softened and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Season pork with salt and pepper, brush with olive oil. Grill pork to desired doneness, turning once.
Place pork and fingerlings on plate, splitting potatoes to expose flesh. Spoon cherry sauce over pork and serve.