Our weeknight dinners are built around turning the bags of farm-fresh produce we carry home each weekend into new recipes for Saturday morning demos at Washington, DC’s Eastern Market. Recently, our friend Sam has joined us for Thursday night’s six-hour marathon sessions where we finalize Saturday’s menu.
Last week, eyeing a bag of Agora Farms black-red sweet cherries, he said “My Mom used to make a sweet and sour sauce with cherries and peaches. It started with a can each…”
I know. You’ve got a mental image of a loud record scratch accompanying this look of horror on my face. But you’re wrong. No one cooks better than your Mom. No one. At that goes for each and every one of you.
However, since Sam thought it would be fun to go home for a visit sometime and show Mom a new upscale version of her sweet and sour, cherry-peach chicken, we started experimenting. Sweet and sour dishes hang on the balance of sweet, acidic and salty. We began with shallot and fresh cherries, added brown sugar for sweetness and depth, and rosemary for a savory bite. Peach infused vinegar replaced the canned peaches and orange zest add citrusy brightness. The cherries we had were so sweet, and the the peach vinegar mildly acidic, that we added a splash of sharper vinegar to finish the thick, jammy, sweet and sour cherry chutney. Then we served it over wild boar sausages.
I’m still willing to bet that Sam’s Mom’s is better. After all, Mom’s who cook are nigh invincible in the kitchen. But we had a pretty darn-good meal.
Sweet and Sour Cherry Chutney
- 2 tbs grape seed or vegetable oil
- 2 large shallots, diced
- 4 cups sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
- 3 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tbs minced rosemary
- 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
- Peach vinegar*
- Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar*
- In a small sauté pan, warm oil and cook shallots over medium heat until soft, without browning.
- Increase heat to medium high and add cherries. Sauté 5 minutes until cherries start to soften and liquid begins to evaporate.
- Reduce heat back down to medium. Add sugar and cook another 5 minutes until chutney starts to become jammy.
- Add rosemary and orange zest and cook another 5-10 minutes until chutney is thick.
- Season to taste with salt and vinegar. This sauce is all about balance, so taste after each addition of salt or vinegar. If your fruit vinegar is not acidic enough, add a splash of something a bit sharper. Add more sugar if needed.