One of my favorite summer fruits is the sour cherry, the variety that is most often used for making cherry pie. Sour cherry pie is my absolute favorite dessert my Mom makes and when summer rolls around I always start craving her exquisite cherry pie. Last week I found some gorgeous sour cherries at the Farmer's Market but because it was a roiling heat wave in New York, there was no way I wanted to turn on my oven and bake a pie. After kicking around several ideas in my head about how I could use these perfect little red orbs, I came up with this fantastic, sweet-tart-spicy condiment, "Sour Cherry Salsa".
It's wonderfully simple, engages all tastes in the mouth, has a soft and crunchy texture and is simply delicious with things grilled and smoky. I had it with grilled chicken, but try it with grilled duck, pork tenderloin, pork chops or grilled turkey. It's not hot, but definitely has a little spice from the fresh ginger and kick from the fresh green Serrano pepper. If you want a milder version, try it using a jalapeno pepper instead. Also, a typical salsa uses lime juice and raw onions but I wanted the tart cherries and raw ginger to provide the only tartness and raw bite to this salsa. The tartness of the cherries is so unique and evokes such terrific emotions and memories for me that I didn't want another sour flavor fighting for prominence. Tomato salsas often include cilantro but many people hate it and I wanted to use a fresh herb that has a milder, softer taste. The chervil was a gorgeous choice and isn't despised by most people who try it so you can safely know this salsa will be enjoyed by everyone. Unless they hate cherries, ginger or hot peppers, of course.
It's unique, delicious, simple and beautiful. It's the perfect condiment to dress up your grilled white meats for your next barbecue. Make this the day you plan to use it, it has about 12-16 hour life at the most. Beyond that, the flavors get lifeless and dull and the texture unappealing.
Yields about 2 cups
2 1/4 c. fresh pitted sour cherries
2 tsp. sugar
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp. fresh Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2 T. fresh Clementine juice (about 1 whole clementine)
1/4 c. fresh chervil, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1. Pit and coarsely chop the fresh sour cherries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar stir, and set aside until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
2. Gently stir in the fresh ginger, serrano pepper, clementine juice, chervil and salt. Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
3. Serve as a condiment to any grilled poultry, pork or white meat. It'd also be lovely with sea scallops or salmon.