Bushels of Peachy Keen Peach Recipes
I grew up smack in the middle of peach country in South Georgia. When I was in high school, my spring breaks were dictated by picking season, as many of my classmates were the sons and daughters of farmers. I’ve bought peaches (and pecans) from my former neighbors at Pearson Farms, a fifth generation family farm, for nearly 20 years. Peaches are one of my favorite summer foods. To my mind, there’s simply nothing better than a perfectly ripe peach. The best way to eat a fresh one is standing over a sink letting the juices drip down your arm! However, peaches are great to cook with, too. This post includes a bushel basket of peachy keen recipes!
The Peach State
Peaches originated in China over 3000 years ago. Spanish missionaries brought peaches to the New World in 1571, to what is now known as St. Simons Island, Georgia. History tells us that Cherokee Indians grew peaches in the mid 1700’s. These stone fruit are an important fruit crop in the agricultural economy of both Georgia and South Carolina. Both states have similar soil types and climate and grow many of the same cultivars. Georgia produces over 85 million pounds of peaches a year. Although Georgia doesn’t grow as many peaches as some other states, including South Carolina and California, it is deservedly known as “The Peach State,” in honor of a farmer in Marshallville who bred the Elberta peach from the seed of a Chinese Cling peach in the late 1800s. The industry took off from there, the state was tagged with the flavorful nickname, and the rest is sweet and juicy history.
I’m certainly biased toward Georgia peaches; it seems to me that the red clay soil and hot sun here create a taste like no other. In keeping with the region’s legendary sweet tooth, many Southern recipes can quickly turn the healthful fruit into something terribly unvirtuous—though delicious. Recipes are often along the lines of the Peach Ice Cream my grandmother made, laced with eggs and heavy cream that we would churn on the side porch. Some of my other decadent favorites are Peach Upside Down Cake, Peach Pie, and Peach Soufflé. For a more healthy dessert check out this lightened up Peach and Blueberry Cobbler that I created for Eating Well. However, peaches aren’t only for desserts. I find that they pair nicely with savory foods, as well. How about my Pork Chops with Georgia Peach BBQ Sauce as seen on Food Network? Or, this delightful Peach and Tomato Gazpacho featured in Southern Living. Below I’m re-sharing a recipe for one of my favorite peach recipes – Savory Basil Peach Chicken. Peaches and basil are a great flavor combination. What grows together goes together—and both basil and peaches love hot Southern summers. Tis the season, you know? Starting the chicken on the stovetop and finishing in the oven helps prevent dry, overcooked chicken. The flavorful jus is fresh and clean, much lighter than a flour-thickened gravy. Serve with steamed rice, instant couscous, or quinoa for a simple summer meal.Thanks for reading!
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Psst — click here to print – I’m having a bit of trouble with the print icon on the recipe template.
Basil Peach Chicken Breasts
Peeling peaches can be tricky business. Often a serrated peeler can be effective, but if the peaches are too ripe, you simply wind up with a handful of puree. To avoid this, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, fill a bowl with ice water. Then, using a paring knife cut an “X” in the end of the peach. Dip the peach into the boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of ice water. The “X” will open slightly and the skin can be removed by gently pulling off with the paring knife.
- 1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
- 12 basil leaves finely chopped, more for garnish
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock or reduced fat low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 large peaches, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick (about 2 cups)
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350°. Pat the chicken dry on both sides with paper towels. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat. Add the shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the basil, chicken stock, and peaches. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat. Transfer to the oven. Bake until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with the point of a knife, about 15 minutes.
Copyright © 2017 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.
peach photo at top – Virginia Willis/peach and basil chicken – Angie Mosier/peach in copper pot – Ellen Silverman
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