The flavor of a peach in hot weather can instantly transport you back to your childhood. The peach succumbing to the pressure of your grip while the juice cascades down your chin is a tactile memory that explodes in your cortex with every first bite of the season.
Peaches can be had locally from June until September, and now is a great time to start cooking with them. Peaches are normally thought of as dessert fare, but when combined with more savory items, they can be used to create a mind-blowing appetizer at your next cookout.
The beauty of buying peaches from the farmers' market is that you can choose between white or yellow peaches. This recipe uses white peaches as the base with a filling of spiced goat cheese, topped with toasted hazelnuts and a barbecue sauce made from yellow peaches. It's an easy recipe as long as you remember to use firm peaches for the grill and soft peaches for the sauce.
One bite of this dish, and you'll create a new flavor memory to last you a lifetime.
Grilled peaches with goat cheese, hazelnuts and peach barbecue sauce
Makes: 12 servings
6 white peaches, cut in half and pitted
toasted hazelnuts, broken into pieces
For peach barbecue sauce:
1 yellow onion
2 pounds yellow peaches
5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh orange juice (2 large oranges)
For goat cheese filling:
1/2 pound (8 ounces) goat cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon minced scallion
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the barbecue sauce, over high heat, combine everything but the orange juice in a large saucepan. Once it's brought to a boil, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer until the onion is soft (about 30 minutes). Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree. Add fresh orange juice to the puree and blend until combined. Let the sauce cool.
For the goat cheese filling, mix all six ingredients in a bowl to combine.
To make the peaches, brush the peach halves with olive oil and place onto a hot grill or grill pan. Grill peaches until brown and charred. To finish the dish, spoon a few tablespoons of the barbecue sauce onto a plate. Place the peach on the sauce and fill the peach pit divot with 2 tablespoons of the goat cheese mixture. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the peach for a little crunch and enjoy.
Tip: You will have a lot of barbecue sauce left over. Use it as you would any barbecue sauce. It's good on chicken, ribs, and — oddly enough — it's fantastic on vanilla ice cream.