I know it's kind of weird for me to say that. How often do I mention plums on this blog? I'm not sure I ever have. I don't make posts that wax poetic on the tastiness of plums. Until today I never posted a plum recipe.
For me plums have always sat quietly in the background. While I have sat at my keyboard banging out recipes for sauces with peaches and brandy and ginger or baked numerous cherry pies and doused chicken cutlets and pork chops with cherry sauces, I was probably snacking on a plum.
Plums are very reliable and easy to eat. The problem with peaches is that I can go to the farm market in the summer, purchase some beautiful ripe peaches, and bite into one expecting it to be divine - then be brutally disappointed to find out it's mealy or flavorless. There is a little potential heartache in every peach. Cherries, while delicious, are a little tough to eat. In order to get your fill of cherries, you must each many of them. That leaves you with the tedious process of the eat-spit-eat-spit-eat-spit routine that requires you to be vigilant about where those pits go. As for apricots, I never liked their texture. In a strange reversal of preferences, I only eat them dried.
While many plums are better than others, plums generally disappoint me far less than peaches. As long as a plum decently ripe, I know I can expect a sweet bite into soft flesh against the contrast of the taught and tangy skin. It's easy to eat around the pit in a larger plum and in the smaller ones, where you can devour them in a bite or two, you don't need to eat 20 (well, maybe I could) so it lacks the needs to constantly spit out pits that you have with cherries.
Childhood memory: There was once a box of tiny plums in the house that I addicitvely attacked one night as a child. I can still remember as I ate plum after plum my mother warning me, "You're going to get the runs." Her warning was a mixture of amusement and fear. They were plums, not prunes (remember I only do apricots dried). While her prediction didn't come completely true, I'm not sure my stomach was all too happy with the plum onslaught. Lesson learned.
It seems strange that I would never think to cook with plums. I don't make plum cakes or plum jam or plum sauces. This week I decided to remedy that.
I took my plums to the savory side and made a plum sauce for duck by roasting my plums with balsamic vinegar and rosemary with just a touch of honey. It could have been sweeter. Maybe more honey the next time.
Maybe next I should go to the sweet side and try a plum cake. I know Sir Pickypants, hater of stone fruits except cherry pie, won't like it, but that means more for me. I did make him at least taste the plums. He ate everything I gave him (just a spoonful) but he didn't ask for more.
I served it over roast duck breast. I was thinking of making this a duck recipe, but it's not much of a duck recipe. Get a whole duck breast. Rub it with salt, pepper, and dried sage. Cut slits in the skin. Cook over low heat in a pan slowly, about 20 minutes occasionally removing some of the fat from the pan. (You will save that fat if you know what's good for you.) When skin is crispy, flip over and brown the other side for about 5 minutes. Place in a 400 degree oven and roast an additional 15 minutes. Let it rest a few minutes. Slice and serve.
I had extra sauce and I intend to try it on pork chops next.
Roasted Balsamic Plum Sauce
- 6-8 large black plums, pitted and cut into quarters
- 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbl olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients except plums in a bowl, whisking until well combined. Toss plum quarters in the mixture. Place on cookie sheet and roast 10 minutes or until plums are soft.
Remove from oven. Chop into smaller pieces and toss with pan juices. Serve with duck, pork, chicken, or whatever other protein think would taste good with it.