The Peach Pit

June 28, 2010

There is something so satisfying, so humble, about a ripe peach in the summer. The other day I came home with about 10 pounds of South Carolina peaches and as I took my first bite while standing over the kitchen sink, it was like nothing else mattered for those two minutes. It was as if I were tasting a peach for the very first time and suddenly my senses and tastebuds were awakened in a way previously unknown to me.

I pretty much love all fruit, especially when at the top of its game, but to be honest, I don’t feel this strongly when I bite into a strawberry or a piece of cantaloupe or a bing cherry. Other fruits come with their own little epiphanies, but there’s a special place in my heart for the peach. Maybe it’s because when they’re at the peak of perfection they’re juicy and messy so eating one tends to break all rules of decorum, hence the kitchen sink instead of a napkin. It has a similar feel to sitting around a dining room table covered in newspapers sucking the meat out of crab legs with only a mere paper towel on your lap to make you feel dignified.

No fuss, just pleasure.

However, like I said before, I had 10 pounds of them sitting on my counter and even after doling them out to neighbors and co-workers, I still had a substantial amount left over. So much so, that standing over the sink with peach juice running down my arms might begin to lose its charm after say, pound three or so.

I recently cracked my trusty baking dish so crumbles and cobblers and such were out of the question. Peach iced tea was briefly at the top of the list but that required a blender which I am currently without after a mishap where I put the rubber seal on the wrong way and it basically fused itself to the glass, like magic. Black magic. As a result, it became impossible to unscrew the bottom of the blender (even with a wrench wielding husband at the helm), which is a bit of a necessity when it comes to cleaning the thing. Who knew it was that easy to render a perfectly good blender unusable.

But anyway, all of these misfortunes paved the way for what might be one of the most divine pairings I have ever encountered in the dessert world.

Peaches. Bourbon. Vanilla Ice Cream.

Oh yes, did your mouth just water a little bit reading those words? I came across this recipe in The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern cookbook and at 8 o’clock on Saturday night, despite the wind and the rain, Drew and I went out and bought the supplies. And let me tell you, it was well worth the trek. Unbelievably worth it. Just go ahead and make it, you’ll see what I mean.

First you boil the peaches for about a minute, let them cool, peel ’em and cut into wedges. Then you simmer some bourbon, sugar and a teeny pinch of salt for about 6 minutes until it becomes syrupy. Pour that over the peaches and then let it cool in the fridge for a couple hours.

It is simple and sublime.

Peaches With Bourbon
Serves 8 (but make as little or as much as you want)

2 pounds ripe peaches (about 8 medium)

2 cups Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whiskey

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

• In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, bring enough water to cover the peaches to a boil. Cut an X into each peach at the pointed end (opposite the stem end). Drop the peaches into the boiling water and cook until the skin just loosens, 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the peaches. Remove from water and set aside until cool enough to handle. Gently peel off skins, cut into wedges, and pack into a quart glass jar or arrange them in a medium bowl.

• In a large saucepan, bring the bourbon to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, and add the sugar and salt. Continue to simmer until the mixture is syrupy, about 6 minutes.

• Pour the syrup over the fruit, seal the jar or cover the bowl, and let cool. Then chill in the fridge for at least a few hours before using. (The peaches will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days).

P.S. Kimberly Joy, if I could be there celebrating with you on your birthday today, this is what I’d make you for dessert! I hope this next year brings you happiness and creativity like you haven’t even fathomed up to this point! Xo

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