This Recipe includes
|(Optional) Charcuterie smoked ham|
Why we love it
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.
Everyone will agree though, it is a classic summer French starter. And during a heatwave, it is even better. The perfect appetizer for that apéro, that is easy to prepare and that requires no cooking. And with a good dose of port wine to boot!
The recipe involves a fresh orange cantelope melon cut in half, with sweet port wine added into the hollowed out middle. It is not a dessert, but rather usually served as a starter. It is eaten with a spoon that is used to hollow out the ripened sweet melon that usually comes out quite easily.
Perhaps the most complicated part of this recipe is figuring out how to cut the melon. While the zig-zag pattern above may seem complicated, it actually isn’t. A sharp knife will slip easily into the melon and frankly, no one is going to notice if the zig-zags are slightly uneven. The first time I tried it, I surprised myself by how easy it was.
Picking Melons 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,
- 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“).
☞ READ MORE: ABC of French Cuisine (the Food Dictionary)
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!
I suggest adding a few slices of jambon cru charcuterie with it. It 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.
☞ READ MORE: Tomato tartare: French starter summer recipe
What main dish to serve with it?
What drinks to serve with it?
Melon au Porto Recipe
- 1 ripe melon
- 1/2 cup of Porto
- 2-3 slices of charcuterie (optional)
- Pick a ripe melon at the market.
- Cut aforementioned melon in half. You can cut it in a jagged pattern (as above) if you wish, but a simple half is just as nice.
- 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.
- (Optional) Add pieces of ham and charcuterie to the plate and serve.
- Bon appétit!
- If you can’t find Porto, substitute Porto for Cognac or Brandy.
- If you don’t eat pork, substitute charcuterie for turkey or chicken slices.
- Add pepper to the meat slices to give it 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! If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading about more classic French appetizers and provençale recipes that are easy to prepare.
P.S. Do not serve to small children. Obviously, you do not want to go to jail. A bientôt!