Sweet or Savory Cherry Compote

Sweet, dark cherries, and my cherry pitting tool

I bought a cherry pitting tool; don’t ask me why. But since
it was sitting in my kitchen drawer and I’d just bought a ton of sweet cherries,
I felt compelled to use it.

Without thinking, I began pitting the cherries without
wearing food-handling gloves or spreading newspaper on the counter. My fingers,
counter, and everything within 2 feet of my work space was spattered with the
prettiest cherry juice color.

Once I cleaned up the mess, I decided it was just plain easier
to use a good-old paring knife to pit cherries – while wearing gloves, protecting the work space, and wearing an apron. 

My plan for these cherries was to make a compote. (Definition of ‘compote‘ from ‘Food Lover’s Companion’: a chilled dish of fresh or dried fruit that has
been slowly cooked in a sugar syrup – which may contain liquor or liqueur, and
some spices.) 

Here are two cherry compote variations – one is sweet to
serve as part of a dessert, the other savory, to serve as a meat or poultry accompaniment.

Sweet Cherry Compote over Greek-style plain yogurt

Sweet Cherry Compote
4 cups of pitted, halved cherries

4 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved

3 to 4 Tbsp. white sugar, depending on sweetness of
2 teaspoons water
a pinch salt

Note: A sprinkle of cinnamon, cardamom,
or a few drops of liqueur will add a nice touch to this!


Step #1

1. Heat the cherries, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium-high
heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 15
minutes, or until cherries are tender and sauce is thickened. (The sauce should coat the spoon.)

2. Stir in salt, and if using spices and/or liqueur, add it here. Heat gently for 2 to 3 minutes more to incorporate the additional flavorings. 

Ready-to-serve compote

Serve warm or cold over
plain cake, vanilla ice cream, or plain or vanilla-flavored yogurt.

Savory Cherry Compote:

For a savory cherry compote to serve with roasted or
grilled meat or poultry, follow the above recipe with these changes:

Use less sugar, or omit it completely, add 3/4 teaspoon
finely chopped fresh rosemary to the cherries as they cook, and finally, add 1
teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional) and black pepper after compote is removed
from the heat.

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