There’s something that looks so magical about a proper White Christmas, complete with traditional roast dinner. But on Christmas Day down under, we’re much more likely to reach for the prawns and beer than the roast pork and mulled wine. That’s why I love Christmas in July – we get to have the best of both worlds!
Over the weekend, I hosted a Christmas in July lunch for some of my best friends. I just love dinner parties. I love planning menus, doing the shopping, setting the table, and finally sitting down with friends and family to enjoy a special meal. There was a delicious roast pork shoulder with crackling, crispy roast potatoes, pear and fennel salad, and a blow-your-mind-awesome cherry and mulled wine sauce, which is what I want to talk about today.
We’ve had some lovely, cheap cherries around of late, and while I know they’re imported and have travelled thousands of miles to get here, they’re one of my favourite fruits. This sauce is absolutely genius. Red wine is simmered with cinnamon quills, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves until it’s syrupy and delicious, then some red wine vinegar and sugar are added to balance the sweetness and acidity, and finally the pitted cherries go in to simmer until they’re tender. It’s delicious.
The roast pork was a perfect match, but this would also be lovely with ham, turkey, duck, or even with a charcuterie platter. If you omit the vinegar, I think this would also work as a sweet syrup which would be delicious with puddings or spooned on top of ice cream. I think this sauce will be a regular addition to my Christmas table from now on, whether it’s July or December!
Mulled Wine Cherry Sauce
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Note: The recipe below serves 20, but is quite easily scaled down (I quartered it). However it’s so damn good that I think it’s worth making the whole batch, as it will keep in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 1 month.
• 750ml red wine
• 4 bay leaves
• 4 cinnamon quills
• 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
• 4 cloves
• ½ vanilla bean
• ¾ cup red wine vinegar
• 200g caster sugar
• 1kg pitted cherries
Combine red wine, bay leaves, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and vanilla bean in a wide saucepan and simmer over medium heat until fragrant and infused (8-10 minutes). Add vinegar and sugar, season to taste with sea salt, and stir until sugar dissolves.
Add cherries, bring to a simmer and cook until just tender. Transfer cherries and liquid (including herbs and spices) to sterilised jars, seal and refrigerate for up to 1 month.