I have always thought that it was such a waste to soak them in water when it seems like the perfect opportunity to add a little kick, by macerating the cherries/cranberries in SOME sort of alcohol. With unsweetend cranberries I would typically use Orange Muscat, Moscato or Muscat Canelli for soaking, but there is no reason you could not use Gran Marnier to add a hint of orange, Maraschino to lend a bit of almond, or even St. Germaine to add some floral notes to your salad. I would stay out of the heavier liquor though, it may be a bit much for the champagne vinegar and the truffle oil.
Truffled Pancetta and Cherry Salad
1/4 cup dried Sour Cherries (Montmorency)
alcohol for soaking (Be it wine or liqueur, this year I used a wonderful Cranberry wine)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz Pancetta, diced
1 TB minced Garlic
1 TB chopped fresh Thyme leaves
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup Champagne Vinegar
2 TB Italian White Truffle Olive oil
6 cups mixed baby greens (roughly 2 of the pre-prepped bags of salad)
6 ounces fresh goat cheese (Chevre) I usually use Silver Goat brand
In a small bowl, macerate dried cherries in your chosen alcohol, then set aside to soften.
Pour 1 TB olive oil into a medium skillet over medium heat.
Add pancetta and sauté until the fat is rendered out, drain pancetta reserving 1 TB of fat from the pan.
Add 2 TB Olive oil to the skillet & increase the heat to medium-high so you can sauté the Pancetta again until it's crispy; then add the garlic and sauté a little longer until the garlic becomes golden.
Turn heat down to medium-low and add the thyme and 10 – 15 grinds of black pepper, then deglaze the pan with Champagne vinegar, be sure to scrape the pan to release the fond.
Reduce vinegar by half.
Remove from heat and whisk in the Truffle oil and a pinch of Kosher Salt.
Place mixed baby greens in a salad bowl.
Drain the Cherries and add to the salad and toss biefly.
Pour Pancetta mixture over greens and toss quickly, just until the greens begin to wilt.
Crumble goat cheese over the greens and toss lightly.
It looks a little messy, but I assure you, it is absolute heaven on a salad fork. It works better served individually with chevre sprinkled on top instead of tossed in, never the less, when there are hungry mouths to feed, sometimes speed and convenience are of the essence. LOL