Some food, some drink.
This is How You Grill a Stonefruit: Tangy Cardamom-spiced Colorado Flame Crest Peaches.
When you get a hold of peaches that are really fresh, the last thing you wanna do is mess around with a bunch of jars and sully them up with a boatload of sugar; simple is best. This recipe for Tangy Cardamom-spiced Grilled Peaches is only six ingredients easy (well, OK seven if you count a scoop of ice cream), and does plenty of justice to a firm, juicy and sweet Flame Crest Peach brought my way from the scenic plateaus of Palisade, Colorado.
Last year I chanced upon some fantastic peaches from out in Palisade, Colorado. I found out too late to do any proper peach planning and only scored enough to eat fresh (and create some killer salsa for a homemade bratwurst patty or two). This year however, I had the inside track - the guy who barbeques brisket with me was making a run up to Palisade with a refrigerated truck in tow; so I was able to score fifty pounds of Talbott's "Colorado Gold" this year. I wasn't too picky where variety is concerned; I mean these are peaches that were still on the tree less than a week before they were at my door! Anyhow, I'm still trying to get learned here; and so anything I can do to expand my peach repertoire and help me be more of a fruit snob next year was alright by me.
In the end, I obtained three varieties to play with: Flame Crest, Summer Lady, and more of those Big ol' Angelus that I scored last year. I channeled my Google-fu and found enough explanation to sufficiently hip me to this year's score. Apparently those Flame Crest are real versatile peaches; a good looking yellow-fleshed freestone variety with a texture that's firm enough to hold up to the stress of canning. I figure any fruit that can keep its composure in a hot water bath is a candidate for grilling; and with a name like "Flame Crest", there's really no excuse to not show some stone fruit the fire.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Clean and lube your grill grates with a neutral vegetable oil. Preheat said grill to 450F.
While the grill heats up, in a microwave-safe bowl (Pyrex anyone?) combine butter, brown sugar, malt vinegar, and cardamom. Nuke for around 60 - 90 seconds (taking care to watch for boil-over) stopping to stir with a whisk every 30 seconds. You want all the sugar melted and the butter integrated.
Next, wash and knock the fuzz off of your peaches and split them in half lengthwise. Remove the pit, and spritz each pitted peach half on both sides with a light coat of cooking spray. Place peaches cut-side down over direct flame for 2 minutes. At the end of 2, rotate a quarter turn (grill marks!) and brush a little of the brown sugar-based sauce on the skin side. Grill for 2 more minutes, flip the peach, give the cut side a good basting and grill for 4 more minutes. Remove from the grill gently and carefully and serve immediately with a scoop of ice cream and an additional drizzle of the sauce.
- Grocery stores are downright terrible about empowering their customers with peach knowledge; in fact, I discovered that all of the peaches I got are marked with the same produce sticker if they're headed to the supermarket. That said, if you're unsure of the peaches you're procuring, pester your purveyor until you're pleased with the propaganda provided. Go for a firm, freestone peach. Sorry, cling peaches; you just ain't gonna work here.
- Peel that peach? No, not here. You do however wanna make sure most of the fuzz is knocked off, but even if peach skin ain't your thing, chances are because we cooked over an open flame that it'll come off without a lot of effort come dessert time.
- "Clean" is the word of the day here where your grill is concerned. Clean and lube those grill grates well before firing up the flame. And make sure there's just enough oil on both sides of those peach halves to ensure that they won't stick as sugars start to caramelize.
- Speaking of sugars, if you're worried about flare ups, don't bother coating the skin side with the sauce (I'm looking at you folks that don't regularly clean your grill). I like the candied char thing that happens from a thin coat of sugar on that skin, but you're better off adding not enough rather than too much. Think: vermouth in an extra-dry martini (besides you'll be able to really glop it on the open side).
- I happen to think that the face-down quarter turn actually serves another purpose besides giving your drupe "the sexy" in the grill marks department. If for some reason your peach wants to stick to the grill, you'll want to know sooner rather than later, as the fruit is continuing to soften and will only become more difficult to handle. Long-handled spring-loaded tongs are probably best for this operation.
- The cardamom in the sauce could probably be replaced with equal parts cinnamon and fresh-grated nutmeg, but you won't get any surprise looks from those whom you're feeding as they try to play "guess the spice".
- The sauce recipe makes more than enough; but trust me, your vanilla ice cream is gonna want somma that. And btw, a cookie scoop portions the perfect amount of ice cream to fill the void left by a peach pit.
I like a recipe that caters to all your tastebuds; and while the ingredient list is short, I think that this is a grilled peach recipe that hits all the right notes; pitting tangy vs. sweet, all the while bringing both together with that kick of cardamom. The only thing missing (and in my opinion quite necessary) is a judicious scoop of cool, creamy vanilla bean to ensure your mouth doesn't miss any of what's going on in the lower-temperatured flavor clines.
I'm not gonna say that Colorado peaches are the best, but the fact remains that from where I live, Talbott's Orchard is an fairly direct eight hour drive due West on I-70. So, as long as someone has the time (and a truck), Colorado peaches don't travel far; which means they don't suffer near the abuse a peach obtained from out East would in order to get to little ol' Hays, USA. If a work days' drive is considered local, then I say buy local; as the less food has to travel, the better it's gonna be when it reaches your table.