Confit loosely translates as “cooking or preserving something in its own juices.” Typically, this refers to cooking or preserving meat in its own fat. You’ve heard of duck confit, right? It’s a simple and brilliant cooking method. If something is delicious, it just makes sense that cooking it in its own flavors is going to make it even more delicious. This need not only apply to meat. Any fruit or vegetable that has some juice to give can be cooked confit. Those cherries you keep passing up at the market (maybe because you don’t know what to put them in, except for a pie) are a perfect example.
Bing cherries are in high season right now: ripe, luscious and juicy, not to mention packed with vitamins and antioxidants. There’s just no good reason to smother all that goodness with sugar and a pie crust, especially if you have a recipe on hand that’s healthier and easier. Cherry Thyme Confit is just that recipe. Savory, rather than sweet, it’s delicious served as a garnish for meat. Pork is a favorite meat to serve it with but turkey and lamb are really good too. The cherries are cooked down just enough to soften (that’s the confit part) but the ripe, fresh summery flavor remains intact. Onions add the savory element and the aromatic fresh thyme is an essential accent of flavor and color.
2 cups pitted cherries (about 1 lb.)
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup red wine (try Malbec)
2 or more Pork Chops, about 1 inch thick
First, you’ll need to get the pesky little pit out of the cherry. If you have a cherry pitter, this job will be less messy than for those of us pushing down on the cherry with our thumb to pop the pit out. Either way, try to save the juice from the cherries as you pit them – you’ll end up with about a tablespoons worth (pitting the cherries in a bowl makes this easy). Set any juice you get and the pitted cherries aside.
Salt and pepper the pork chops and put a tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When the butter melts add the chops and cook about 8 minutes on each side. If it’s a hot summer night and you prefer to grill the chops, go for it.
While the meat grills, melt the butter in a pan and add the sliced onions.
If you’re not grilling, remove the meat from the pan after each side has cooked, turn the heat down to medium and then add the sliced onion. Cook until the onions are soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine. Turn the heat down just a bit more so the red wine is just barely bubbling. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, until the wine evaporates and the onions are really soft. Add thyme, cherries and any cherry juice you reserved, as well as a dash of salt and pepper.
Cover and cook 3-5 minutes to finish the confit. You can add the pork chops back to pan at this point to re-warm them and to soak up a little flavor. The confit is best served as a generous garnish, rather than a full-fledged side dish and you’ll have more than enough to serve with two pork chops. If you have more fresh thyme, sprinkle a bit on top before you dig in.
Check back tomorrow for another delicious recipe featuring a beautiful cut of meat and fresh, seasonal fruit.