“If I had my little way, I’d eat peaches every day.”
-The Presidents of the United States of America
Peach season is here! Peaches are at their cheapest and tastiest during the month of July and August. During peak peach, the plethora of peaches means peach sales at your local produce departments.
While dessert peach recipes are plentiful, there are less ideas out there for savory dishes to prepare during this prime peach panoply. Peaches are plenty sweet, but couldn’t their inherit juicy flavor be put to good use in something other than cobbler? (Not to say anything bad about cobbler. Cobbler is delicious.) Still, there must be a salty compliment to their sweet side.
The answer is simple: pair peaches with pork. (Have I taken the alliteration to far? I certainly never meant to get so poetic piling on the p’s per my peach prologue…ok, yeah…I’ll stop now.)
Pork pairs (I swear it wasn’t on purpose this time) better with sweet citrus-y fruit than any other protein. It’s why pork and apples work so well together. And the same can be true of pork and peaches.
Bone-in pork chops were on sale at my local store (as they often are during grilling season) as were, of course, peaches. I decided that I wanted to grill both the chops and the peaches and eat them together. It felt like I needed some kind of herb to bring it all together. Sage didn’t seem right with peaches as it does with apples, and I couldn’t find any rosemary. But then I saw fennel. The fennel’s sweet bitter flavors would help merry the savory pork with the sweet tart peaches.
I marinated my pork in an apple cider vinaigrette. I then grilled it with halved peaches and quartered fennel. After I removed everything from the grill I sliced the peaches and fennel a bit more while the pork rested for 10 minutes and then served everything over cous cous. The resulting dish is one of my favorite meals to ever have come off my grill. Often the grilled meats we prepare for summer can be awfully heavy meals under the hot L.A sun. But this was light and summery and still filling and comforting at the same time. I highly recommend this unusual combination of foods.
Eat this dish with a good summer ale or a Australian Chardonnay (Aussie chards tend to be lighter on the oak and heavier on the crisp citrus flavors) or Pinot Grigio.
Grilled Peach & Fennel topped Pork Chops
2 Pork Chops
2 peaches, halved, pits removed
1 head of fennel or anise (they are the same thing,) quartered
Apple Cider Vinaigrette (alternatively, a cheap bottle of Italian dressing will work well for a bit less work)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk the ingredients of the apple cider vinaigrette. Pour enough apple cider vinaigrette over the pork chops to cover them. Marinate for ½ hour or up to an hour.
- Preheat the grill 15 minutes before cooking.
- Place the pork chops, peaches (open half side down,) and quartered fennel on the grill. Cook, uncovered for 6 to 8 minutes per side. Everything should take about the same time. For perfect grill marks, you may want to give the pork chops a quarter turn on the grill halfway through the cooking time. Remove ingredients as they appear done. The peaches should be nice and tender all the way through. Some blackening is okay. The fennel can also have charring. Keep in mind these will be sliced more off the grill.
- Remove the peaches and fennel to a chopping board and the pork chops to a plate to let them sit for 5 minutes. Slice the grilled peach halves into 4 slices. Also cut the quartered fennel into similar sized slices to the peaches.
- Serve the pork chops on a bed of cous cous or mashed potatoes, topped with the peach and fennel slices. Enjoy!