Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sweet cherry wine sauce

Cherries are in season (early this year!), and I've bought them a few times already at the farmer's market. Most of them get eaten out of hand, but I eventually work some into recipes, like a cherry upside down cake or cherry bombs from previous years.

This time around, I made a sweet cherry sauce with wine. And here's the secret: this is the perfect use for cherries that might be not as pretty.

You know how it is, there area always some that look a little sad, or maybe you bought some fresh ones and you want to use up the ones that are a few days old. Since you're cooking them down, it doesn't matter if they're not picture perfect.

What's the sauce good for? Well, for a start, I drizzled it over ice cream. But it would also be great for savory uses - a glaze for pork or poultry, for example. Or add some heat to it for a spicy glaze. Or use it for a sweet-sour glaze or dipping sauce. The possibilities are endless, and the sauce is easy to make.

The amount of sugar is up to you, and is also dependent on the sweetness of the cherries and the wine. If the cherries and wine are very sweet, you won't need as much sugar - unless you want a very sweet sauce. If the cherries are very tart and the wine is dry, you might need all the sugar - unless you want a tart sauce. My suggestion is to start with less sugar and taste the sauce just before it's done and add more sugar, if you need it.

As for the wine, use what you like or what you have on hand. Red or white will work - sweet or dry - it's up to you. The flavor of the dish will be different depending on the wine you choose, of course. But if you like drinking the wine, it will work. For my sauce I used a vinho verde.

If you don't have a cherry pitter, removing the pits from cherries is a lot less fun. Hate unitaskers? You can use a cherry pitter for olives, as well. Yeah, I like gadgets.

Sweet Cherry Wine Sauce

1 quart cherries, pitted
1 cup wine
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the pitted cherries and wine in your blender or food processor and blend until it's as smooth as it can get.

Put the blended cherries in saucepan and add 1/4 cup sugar and the salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cook until the mixture has reduced by about 1/3, stirring as needed to keep it from burning.

Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired. If you add sugar, keep cooking and stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add more salt, if desired.

Pass the mixture through a fine strainer into a storage container. You should have about 2 cups. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Cool the sauce, then refrigerate.

This post has been been entered in the OXO Cherry Recipe contest.