A good pork chop deserves a cherry on top
Pairing sweet and savoury is a classic combination and Cherries, raspberries, redcurrants and even plums are in season
Halve the cherries and macerate for two to three hours in some sweet sherry. Photograph: iStock
Cherries, raspberries, redcurrants and plums – summer has definitely arrived. The hot days and cool nights help this fruit to sweeten beautifully. Just yesterday I tasted the first of this year’s cherries. Though they are beautiful raw, perhaps you’d like them with some PX sherry, over a few pork chops? Or what about with some duck breast?
Halve the cherries and macerate for two to three hours in some sweet sherry and then bring to the boil and reduce a little. Grill your chops, then pour the cherries and sherry over the top. A little added apple balsamic vinegar, from Highbank Orchard in Kilkenny, will balance the dish out in terms of acidity.
You may also want a few bitter greens to cut through the richness of the pork. Garlic scapes, perhaps? Those lovely long slender leek-like spears are grown at Drummond House in Co Louth. Blanch them in boiling water then brush with oil or butter and finish with some Achill Island sea salt.
I wrote recently that we seem to have forgotten about pairing fruit with savoury things, but there’s more to cherries and raspberries than pies and cream. Recently, I did a lobster and raspberry dish for the Athenry Food Festival and it went down well with the crowd.
The trick is to go light on the fruit, so as not to overpower the dish. For one poached tail of lobster, I charred five raspberries with a blow torch and dressed them with some extra virgin rapeseed oil from Kitty Colchester. The lobster tail was de-shelled and served with the raspberries in some seaweed broth. It might seem like a strange combination, but it worked.
Redcurrants often get overlooked because of their astringency. I find fermenting them in 2 per cent salt water (in the fridge), for five to seven days, releases some lovely sour flavour. They’ll go well over grilled mackerel or pan-fried chicken breast. No need to cook. Just dress with a little of their liquid and some extra virgin oil.
Though our wild Irish plum (damson) is still a bit away, cultivated plums are now in supermarkets. Poach in sugar syrup with mint and rosé wine and serve with whipped cream.