Nigel Slater recently posted an interesting recipe in the Guardian’s food & drink section. The interesting ingredient is quick-pickled cherries. Not pickles like you might think; this stuff is divine! With cherry season in full swing, it’s time you gave them a try.
I chose to do something a bit different. (I know, you can’t hardly stand the shock! The Chile Doctor goes outside the box…) I have some beautiful, ripe black plums as well as cherries. So I cut up a couple plums and took the stones out of about three-quarters of a pound of cherries. I tossed all the fruit together with a bit of sugar over them. While the mixture waited, I put together my pickling liquid: 1/2 cup cherry juice, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, and a cup of red wine. I’ve got this four-grape blend that I enjoy cooking with, so I used that. Nothing fancy, though I did consider using some of the nice Norton Malbec I have open. (I did use some of that too, but none made it as far as the food.)
Slater puts star anise and black peppercorns in his pickling mix. I had those, and I added a bit of freshly ground cardamom. I used another two tablespoons of sugar in the pickling mix. I thought about adding cinnamon and cloves, but decided against it. Too many flavors and it would taste like pie or something. Not that pie’s bad, even if I can only eat three kinds. I had a different plan, though.
You see, we had pork fajitas last night, and there was plenty of grilled meat available. How to dress up this leftover? Pickles, that’s how!
After I’d finished the pickled fruit I put the whole shebang into a covered glass bowl in the fridge. A while later I made some fluffy rice. While the rice was resting I got out the pork and sliced it very thinly across the grain. I put the pork into a large skillet and began to warm it. No oil needed for this one. As the pork came up to temperature I added about a cup of light chicken broth. When that began to boil I thickened the sauce with a bit of cornstarch in wine. (NOT the Malbec.) Now some folks might find that approach a bit gauche, but here in Texas we like our sauces. We even like gravy!
The next step after that was to add a few ladles of the pickled fruit and pickling liquid. Stirring that in gave an amazing sauce! Spooned over a bed of rice and it was about as tasty as it gets. It was nearly good enough to fool the dinner crowd. About halfway through the meal, someone asked, “Hey, is this the leftover fajitas?” I simply smiled as I shoveled dinner in…
Enjoy the (Quick-Pickled) Heat!