The perfect French Summer starter: Melon au Porto
If you are looking for the perfect summertime appetizer, you have come to the right place. I’m not sure if Melon au Porto comes from the South of France, or if I just happen to think that because I usually have it with our relatives in the South. Cranky French people from the North, please feel free to correct me.
Everyone will agree though, it is a French Summer Classic. And during a heatwave, it is even better. The perfect appetizer that is easy to prepare and that requires no cooking, and with a good dose of alcohol to boot! (No, we’re not alcoholics, this is a refined selection 😉 )
The habit of Picking Fruit that is in Season
Part of the charm comes from picking the melon itself. Melons are in season in France between June-early Sept, so a lovely morning out at the marché (farmers’ market) to pick up the perfect melon for your lunch just adds that extra touch of gastronomie du terroir. (Or just makes you feel better about your hoity-toity self!)
Unlike farmers’ markets in North America, in France you do not pick your own produce. Generally, you tell the farmer/merchant when and how you are going to eat the item, what other ingredients you are going to use, and maybe even who you’re going to be serving. (i.e; Grandma, small children, business associates, etc.) The farmer will then pick the fruit or vegetable that will achieve maximum ripeness and taste on D-Day (or in French Jour J).
The Lazy Chef Recipe for a hot summer day
- Pick ripe melon at the market.
- Cut aforementioned melon in half.
- Scoop out the seeds of the melon.
- Buy a bottle of Porto at your local grocery store.
- Add Porto into each half of the melon.
- Refrigerate for a couple of hours so that the melon marinates.
- (Optional) Sip some porto while waiting.
- Add pieces of ham and charcuterie to the plate and serve.
- Bon appétit!
If you can’t find Porto, you could substitute it for Cognac or Brandy. You could also entirely scoop out the melon as little balls, fill the whole thing with brandy and drench the melon balls in that. That might be quite a bit of alcohol though, so forewarned!
The charcuterie adds a touch of salt to counterbalance the sweetness of the melon, making it a perfect pairing. If you don’t eat pork, turkey or chicken slices would work quite well too. You can also add a slight touch of pepper to give the meat slices an extra kick.
So wherever you are, I hope you are keeping cool. Enjoy your Melon au Porto and let me know if you found any other variations to taste! A bientôt!
P.S. Do not serve to small children. Obviously, you do not want to go to jail.