Cherry Merlot Sauce over Lamb Chops

Cherry season is here people! yup, that's right. One of my favorite fruits is ripening on the tree as we speak. Each year I await the month of May just to see how many cherries I can eat and, of course, host a cherry pit shooting contest. 

Here in Linden, California, we produce and pack a lot of cherries. In fact, we pack almost all of the cherries grown in the state. Just in California alone, there are 40,000 acres of sweet cherries and about 600 farmers caring for them. Each cherry is hand-picked with the stems left on to keep the cherry fresher longer. It is estimated that 40% of the annual crop is exported to countries such as Japan, Korea, China, Australia, Mexico, and Chile.

Most people think that eating cherries whole is about all you can do with them other than the usual cherry pie, cobbler, and ice cream. Wrong. I love to turn my cherries into a savory sauce to top lamb or any red meat for that matter. It is not difficult at all and can be done on a busy weeknight.

Cherry Merlot Sauce over Lamb Chops

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted

    1 cup Merlot wine

    1/4 cup honey

    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 

    1 pound (about 8 or 9) baby lamb chops

        1 tablespoon kosher salt

        1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

        2 tablespoons olive oil

        1 1/2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

  1. For the Cherry Sauce: In a medium saucepan combine cherries, Merlot, honey, and balsamic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

  2. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook for a few minutes more until thick. Season to taste.

  3. For the Lamb: Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

  4. Season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle the herbes de Provence on both sides.

  5. Grill on each side until medium-rare, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve with cherry sauce.

600 farmers and 22 packers make up the 40,000 acres of sweet cherries in California.