Friday, February 11, 2011

Popping (ok, pitting) Cherries

So the title isn't entirely true, I didn't exactly pit the cherries properly when making tonight's dinner. I was cutting each cherry at the pit on each side and then doing "quality control" on the remaining flesh on the pit when cutting them up for the cherry wine sauce! Hey, you gotta make sure the ingredients still work, right?

I have to admit it, I have a bad habit that I want to quit ASAP. Sometimes I buy produce and forget I have to use it up and it goes bad. I hate that I waste food, but I'm much better at using things up than I used to be. If you have any methods that work, feel free to share them! Anyways, earlier this week I found a bag of unused cherries in the fridge that I knew had a couple of days left on them. So ambitious to use them up I became that I spent one morning at work trying to find recipes that use fresh cherries-don't tell my boss! They're not that easy to find, sadly. The first one I found was a mediocre recipe for cherry muffins. I decided to try the recipe with a few changes: I used 1oz of Disaronno liqueur instead of the almond extract it called for, used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and I mashed up the cherries a bit to get some juice in the mix too. Although Matt says he really liked them, I thought it needed a bit more sweetness to it and found I could hardly taste the cherries, even though I left good sized chunks in the mash. Next time I'll add some cherry yogurt to it to add flavor and sweetness, and maybe increase the flour to get it to the right consistency. It's definitely worth making again.

Sometimes when surfing for recipes I find one that I feel so compelled to take on that it's hard to stop me. About $55 is what it cost me this time. I decided to try to make Lamb Chops with Cherry Red Wine Sauce & Mint, a modification from Lamb Chops with Cherry Balsamic Sauce & Mint because I didn't have balsamic vinegar on hand. I served it with broccoli & cheese sauce to put the focus on the lamb, and paired it with a bottle of 2008 Chateau de Courteillac, a red blend from Bordeaux. Bordeaux reds were recommended to be paired with the recipe. I came home this afternoon ready to take on Operation Lamb Chop (as I've cheesily pegged it).

I don't cook a lot of lamb. I don't eat a lot of lamb. I'm not necessarily for the slaughter of baby animals, but I don't mind veal about once per year - usually tasting it off Matt's plate. After spending $21 on 6 lamb chops, however, I wasn't taking this one lightly and I went long and slow with it. My chef in college would have been proud, I made sure I had my mise en place completed before starting the cooking process! Matt came home just as I was about to pan-sear the chops, and we decided to roast them as a reviewer suggested. It was great to have a 2nd set of hands around! When the cooking process was finished, we set the table and plated the food, and here is the end result:
Next was the moment of truth-tasting my effort. Would I like lamb? Did I fudge the recipe? Is Matt going to be mad if I just wasted $21 after spending thousands on a trip to France? I took a bite and thought I reacted well to the harsh, bitter taste of lamb at first. The sauce was phenomenal and paired so well with the lamb! Matt, who has ordered lamb in high-end restaurants before, thought it was flavorful and tender (in his own words). Unfortunately for me, I got to my 2nd chop and my tastebuds rejected the robust, bitter flavor. It was just too much for me I guess. I ended up giving most of my lamb to Matt, who happily gave it a home. I doubt that I will ever eat lamb again, much to Matt's protest (he literally just said it!) but I would make the sauce again, and even play with it over ice cream or for a future cheesecake-using sweet ingredients of course! Here's the link to the recipe:

www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lamb-Chops-with-Cherry-Balsamic-Sauce-and-Mint-108339


And that brings us to now. I am finishing the bottle of wine, which turns out to be very easy drinking :) Ultimately, I'm glad I did it. I used up the cherries and I attempted something advanced that I viewed as a challenge, and it turned out pretty good I thought. This was day 1 of a food-filled weekend, tomorrow brings a Port tasting and a 3 course meal at the Keg, and Sunday is the day I spice things up! Here's hoping it turns out in the end!

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