Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Wood-Fired Sweet Cherries

Courtesy of Jason Owens, John Gorham and Ben Dyer, co-owners of Simpatica Dining Hall and Viande Meats & Sausage. Serves 4

May 19, 2009 Published in the July 2006 issue of Portland Monthly

For the panna cotta:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 split vanilla bean

For the cherries:

1/2 bottle of Chianti

1 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1/2 lb sweet cherries (such as Rainier or Bing), stems and pits removed

1 sprig rosemary

1. Pour 3 tbsp cream into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over top and let sit for 10 minutes, then gently mix together.

2. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape seeds from 1/2 of the bean and add the seeds, the scraped half of the bean, 1 cups cream and the sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until just bubbling, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add the gelatin mixture and remove from heat.

4. Whisk for 1 minute until the gelatin has dissolved.

5. Strain the mixture into four small ramekins. Set in the refrigerator until the panna cotta has set (at least 6 hours).

6. Just before you are ready to serve the panna cotta, place some fresh wood or coals on the grill to increase the temperature to medium-high heat.

7. In a stainless-steel sauté or paella pan, combine the Chianti, sugar, vanilla bean halves, cherries and rosemary sprig.

8. Cook over the hottest part of the grill until the mixture becomes syrupy, about 15-20 minutes.

9. Remove vanilla bean and rosemary.

10. Let mixture cool slightly, then spoon over the panna cotta.

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