This elegant salad is a summertime favorite at the Grille at Peerce's in Phoenix, Baltimore County. Executive chef John Hufnagel mixes savory and sweet, dressing a sweet and tangy stack of goat cheese, cantaloupe and watermelon with a savory red wine syrup.
For the melon salad:
1/4 cup watermelon, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1/4 cup cantaloupe, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
3 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons red wine reduction (recipe below)
Sprig of mint for garnish
Dice watermelon and cantaloupe into 1/4-inch cubes. Fill one-third of an upside down, three-inch biscuit cutter with diced watermelon. On top of the watermelon, layer the goat cheese to fill another third of the biscuit cutter. Top goat cheese with the diced cantaloupe, filling the rest of the biscuit cutter.
Carefully turn over the biscuit cutter and remove, placing the melon and goat cheese stack on a plate. Drizzle with red wine reduction and add mint sprig to garnish.
Red wine reduction:
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, diced
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 cups red wine
4 cups brown stock (chicken or beef)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy saucepan, saute the shallots in butter over medium heat. When shallots are soft, add the bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and red wine and turn heat to high.
Reduce the wine mixture by three-quarters. Add the stock and reduce by half. It should be the consistency of a syrup. Season with salt and pepper.
Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the reduction, discarding herbs and spices. Let the reduction cool. Store in the refrigerator until using.Brian Krista, For The Baltimore Sun