Sour cherries, in their meaty, sweety, tarty glory, have been appearing more frequently this year in Gourmandistan. In the past we could only get a couple of pints each year from Hazelfied Farm (though those few were, in true Raphe & Teresa fashion, exquisitely small and sour). But this year Michelle’s already scored a couple of quarts from Steve Hess at a recent Norton Commons market, and some neighbors up the road just put up a “cherries 4 sale” sign. (No one was home today, but Steve will try again tomorrow. Steve loves cherries.) We’ve squirreled away some as cherry jam, from a David Lebovitz no-recipe recipe.
Tonight we enjoyed a clafoutis, one of the most delicious uses for the lovely cherry. In the Limousin region of France where the custardy dish originated, they don’t pit the cherries—believing that the pits improve its flavor. We’ve followed this line, and found the results quite delicious (though spitting the pits into a bowl after each mouthful requires a certain degree of intimacy and comfort between you and your fellow diners). This time we did use our trusty cherry pitter, and there was certainly no lack of flavor. The eggy custard, sour cherries and burny-sugared top made a divine combination.
SOUR CHERRY CLAFOUTIS
(adapted from Elizabeth M. Prueitt’s and Chad Robertson’s Tartine)
2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/3 c. + 1 TB flour
2 c. sour cherries (pitted or unpitted)
1/4 c. sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a 10″ glass pie or quiche pan.
Combine milk, sugar and salt in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted and milk is scalded. Add vanilla.
While milk is heating, whisk together 1 egg and the flour in a mixing bowl. Then whisk in remaining 2 eggs until smooth.
Slowly pour milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Put cherries into pie dish. Pour custard mixture over. Make sure fruit is distributed evenly.
Bake until just set in center, about 30-35 minutes.
Remove dish from oven. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Sprinkle 1/4 c. sugar over clafoutis. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until sugar is caramelized, watching carefully so it doesn’t darken too much.
Cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.