Cherries are like love — occasionally darkly sweet and sometimes brightly tart. Either way, this full-bodied fruit makes your mouth water.
Even though fresh cherries are not currently available, it seems fitting that February, the month associated with romance, bears the moniker of National Cherry Month.
More pertinent, perhaps, is today’s date — the birthday of a certain president irrevocably linked to cherries because of his inability to lie. Thank you, George Washington, for giving us an outof-season reason to savor this fruit, be it canned, dried or covered in chocolate.
“They are so versatile,” says Thomas Brewington, executive chef at the Scottsdale restaurant Barcelona, where a rotating menu of sweet and savory cherry dishes are offered to customers all month. Selections range from a cherrystuffed, grilled 28-ounce bone-in rib-eye, to a wild cherry panacotta (an Italian custard made without eggs).
He tried to include fresh cherries, but U.S. orchards don’t produce a ripened product until June and early July. Instead, he and Barcelona sous chef Kevin McDonald concocted recipes using dried tart cherries, cherries macerated in brandy, even wild cherry preserves.
To give depth of flavor to his Cherry-Glazed Chicken, he used an entire bottle of cherry brandy as well as 4 cups of dried cherries in the marinade/basting mixture. He then adds layer after layer of the glaze to the chicken while cooking, “so that it will have a nice flavor throughout,” says Brewington.