"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Veal Chops with Fresh Cherry Madeira Sauce and Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

(Red cherries)
One of my favorite things about the summer time is the abundance of fresh cherries.  Red cherries. Rainier cherries. You name it! They are sweet, juicy, and succulent. Cherries remind me of when I was a little girl in Haiti. We usually walked to school. During the summer time, on our way back from school, we would pass those huge cherry trees. We could not resist the temptations.  So, we would put down our school bags, pick some cherries, sit down for a few minutes, and enjoy some fresh cherries. Those few minutes were some of the happiest times of our young lives.  

(Rainer cherries)
As an adult, I have discovered that fresh cherries are very versatile. You can enjoy them as a healthy snack. You can have them as dessert. And, you can also enjoy them on savory dishes. Fresh cherries make wonderful sauces. Today, while shopping at Berkeley Bowl, I picked up some beautiful cherries.  My kids love cherries. My daughter, who was shopping with me, must have sampled a dozen cherries inside the store. 

Tonight, I wanted to make a wonderful and romantic meal for Patrick and me.  I had picked up some veal chops at Berkeley Bowl while shopping there.  As my daughter and I were picking the cherries, I got this wonderful idea to make a sauce with the cherries.  To kick things up an extra notch, I also decided to make some stuffed tomatoes as a side dish. 

For the Veal Chops
  • Two veal chops
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Steak seasonings (if you have some)
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (if you are using a cast iron skillet, just sprinkle some Kosher salt in the skillet rather than oil)
Directions: Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chops with salt and pepper, and the steak seasonings.  Brown the chops on each side until you have a nice brown sear on them.  Finish cooking them in the oven.

For the cherry sauce
  •  1 cup of fresh cherries (pitted and halved)
  • 1 small shallot (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of Madeira (or port or sherry - whatever you have)
  • 2 Tablespoons of cherry jam (I use Black Cherry preserves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried Thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried Rosemary
Directions: Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter. Sautee the shallot, with the thyme and rosemary for about 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and the Madeira.  Cook for about 1 minute. Then, add the fresh cherries and jam. Lower the heat to low. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the cherries are softer.  Serve the cherries over the veal chops.  [NOTE: This cherry sauce would work great with pork chops as well.]

(After baking)
(Before baking)
As a side, I made these beautiful stuffed tomatoes, courtesy of the Food Network Magazine (July 2012): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/sausage-and-basil-stuffed-tomatoes-recipe/index.html

  • 8 medium tomatoes, preferably with stems intact
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 pound luganega or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced, plus a handful of celery leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups bread cubes (from about 1/2 baguette)
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a serrated knife, slice off the top quarter of each tomato and reserve the tops. Scoop out the pulp from inside each tomato and transfer it to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the cayenne to the food processor and process until smooth; pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, herbes de Provence, bell pepper, onion, diced celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the sausage browns, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage mixture and bread cubes to the food processor and pulse until chopped. Pack the tomatoes with the sausage-bread mixture so the stuffing is domed on top. Put the stuffed tomatoes in the baking dish on top of the sauce. Place the basil, walnuts, cheese and celery leaves in the food processor and chop. Sprinkle onto the tomatoes. Put the tomato tops, cut-side down, between the stuffed tomatoes. Bake until the stuffing is golden, about 20 minutes. Cover each tomato with a top and serve with the sauce.

To accompany these dishes, Patrick and I enjoyed one of our personal favorite wines: Franciscan Estate's Magnificat (Napa Valley, 2008).  We got this wine as one of our shipments from the Expressions of the Vine Wine Club.  This wine is a Meritage, which consists of four different grape varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.  It's a close cousin to a Bordeaux Blend (only it's missing the Cabernet Franc). It is a delicious wine, which goes very well with veal or steak. This vintage is full bodied, rich and well-balanced.  The color is a deep red. It has aromas of sweet ripe berries and dark cherries, with a hint of vanilla.  On the palate, you can certainly taste the deep, ripe fruits and some spice notes.  The finish is wonderful, with rich, yet soft, tannins. The oak gives it a nicely round finish on the palate.  This wine certainly can age for years. But, as you have come to know me by now, I don't believe in "aging" wine. If a wine is good, now it's always a perfect time to enjoy it with loved ones.  You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Tonight's meal was absolutely perfect. It was delicious and romantic.  You gotta love the summer!

Until next time . . . Cheers!


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