Jul 22, 2023
Chef's Hat: Add peaches to meat dishes during the last weeks of summer
Summer is like that quote from the movie "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" when Ferris says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So forget about
Summer is like that quote from the movie "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" when Ferris says: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
So forget about road trips, boating, swimming or fishing. Before this summer fades away, just sit back, take some time with your loved ones, enjoy the beauty of the lakes area and feast on a delicious meal.
Many people think peaches are only for pies and cobblers. But fresh peaches are the perfect addition to many recipes.
They combine well with a variety of foods and when lightly cooked, the sweetness of the peaches enhances the finished dish. Lighter meats, such as chicken and pork, make the ideal companion to peaches.
The trick to cooking with peaches is to find peaches that are at just the peak of ripeness. The peach should be firm enough to hold up while cooking, but it also needs to be ripe enough that the flavor melds into the dish.
If the peach is overly ripe, the cooking process may turn the fruit into a mushy puree instead of adding flavor slices to the finished dish.
Chicken with texture and lightness combines very well with the sweetness of peaches. There are dozens (probably hundreds or even thousands) of chicken with peaches recipes in cookbooks and online.
Most of the recipes are based on using chicken thighs. Thighs can be replaced with chicken breasts, but the thighs have more flavor. That is a big advantage in any chicken/peaches recipes, but especially this one-pan meal recipe.
Pork chops are another variety of meat that pairs well with peaches. As pork chops are a very lean cut of pork, a quick soak in a brine solution helps transform an otherwise tasteless, dry piece of meat into juicy, flavorful chops.
Making a quick brine of 2 tablespoons salt to 2 cups of water is all that is needed to ensure the chops will be tender and pair up with the flavor of the peaches.
While peaches are in season, now is a great time to move beyond the cobblers and pies and try other great recipes that highlight this sweet, scrumptious piece of fruit.
Remember, as the days get shorter and the calendar rushes toward fall, it’s important to take some time to gather around the table with family and friends and enjoy a great meal. Happy Eating.
Prepare the brine by mixing the water, salt and brown sugar in a bowl or large measuring cup. Mix the ingredients until well combined. Put the chops into a zipped bag and pour the brine over the chops. Place the chops in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes
Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator. Rinse the chops with cold water and lightly shake them to remove excess water. Pat the chops dry with paper towels and set them on a plate.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Season the pork chops with the garlic, Italian seasoning, rosemary, salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chops to the skillet and sear them until they are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Transfer the chops to the prepared sheet pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the chops. Place them into the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the chops from the oven and turn them over. Cook for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. The pork chops will be cooked through and should reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Over medium heat, add the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir well to combine. Add the peach slices and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. The peaches will become slightly softened and very fragrant.
Turn the heat to low and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Do not overcook or the peaches will become mushy.
Remove the pork chops from the oven and transfer them to individual plates. Drizzle any pan juices over the top. Top the chops with the peaches and equally divide the sauce in the pan over the chops/peaches. Serve immediately.
To cook the chicken:
Season the thighs with the Montreal chicken seasoning, chili powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
Heat a medium sized skillet (use a cast iron skillet if you have one) to medium heat. Add the olive oil. Place the chicken thighs into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, without turning, so the chicken gets a nice sear.
Turn the heat to low-medium and flip the thighs. Cook for an additional 5 to 7 minutes until the thighs are cooked through. Turn off the heat, remove the thighs and place them on a plate. Tent with foil.
To cook the peaches:
Wipe the pan with a paper towel. Turn the heat back to medium. Add butter to the pan. When the butter is melted, add the peaches. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, occasionally turning the peaches so they don’t burn or scorch.
Drizzle the lemon juice over the peaches. Pour the honey over the peaches and lightly stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes so the flavors can combine.
Add the chicken back to the pan and heat it for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Place ample servings of the chicken/peaches onto plates and drizzle sauce over the top. If desired, top with fresh thyme.
Donna Evans is an Echo Journal correspondent.