Peaches: Sweet and Savory

Having recently returned from my tour of a few farmer’s markets and local shops from my travels, to be introduced once weekly in the next month in my “Locavore on the Road” posts, I had the pleasure of using my last peach, procured from a market very close to its origins in South Carolina.

While on the road I didn’t have much opportunity to cook, thus I bought three different kinds of peaches: donut, white, and traditional (these must have a name, but they were just called “regular” or “yellow” peaches by the locals) and brought some as a hostess gift for my cousin (see Locavore on the Road: Buffalo). In tasting the three kinds, I did notice a few subtle differences. The white and donut peaches had firmer flesh and a bit of an almost citrus-y bite to them. The donut – funny, squashed-looking peaches that are shped like a two-inch disk, with a small pit – was a bit less firm, and had a flavor a bit more “peachy” as us northerners are familiar. The yellow peach was perfectly firm, being picked fresh and at the peak of ripeness, was juicy, with a skin tough enough to survive a 600 plus mile road trip.

I personally like my fresh peaches with a squeeze of lime (although I know that is not local). Although a drizzle of local honey or yogurt or certainly naked would all be delicious when you are dealing with a fruit this fresh. Baked in a cobbler would be fantastic as well. (Perhaps add a touch of cardamom or nutmug to really enhance the flavor!)

But, last night, I had one peach left, and some locally born and bred pork chops. I also had a surviving, if bruised, tomato from our travels and some mint from our garden. Thus, I seasoned the chops with a spicy grill rub (dried garlic, chili powder, touch of cumin, dried mustard, smoky salt, pepper) and cooked them on my grill pan until the meat was just barely done and then let them set while I finished cooking a quick peach salsa to serve with it. A fitting farewell for my final local peach.

Peach Salsa:

Chop: one peach, one tomato, one spring onion or large scallion, optional chopped habanero  – add to saute pan with juices (on medium/ medium-low)

*note: the freshest ingredients must be used or the salsa won’t be juicy enough. Using canned diced or whole tomatoes would work better than fresh-but-not-garden-fresh tomatoes.

As the above mixture reduces and softens, season with smoky salt, pepper, tsp of brown sugar (or honey), light dash of cumin. Add a touch of water if too dry before the fruits and veg start to release their own juices – you want a chunky salsa consistency. Finish with a 1/2 T of acid – I used balsamic, but could have used lemon or lime – and cook another minute. It is ready when the peaches are soft and the liquid has thickened a bit. Serve over the pork chops.

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