Smoked Peach Chutney
Biting through velvet skin into the honeyed-sweet juiciness of a peach is such a summer pleasure. I’ve been on a quest, from farm stand to farm stand, to find the best of the bunch and have tasted this summer the stuff poets write about. Of course, a few weekends back, I got a bit carried away at a local stand, and I ended up with more peaches than I knew what to do with. What better way to use up this peak season fruit than to turn it into a chutney…Interestingly enough, it was a cocktail that inspired the flavor combo for the chutney; the drink had bourbon, crème de peche and cumin. Genius! The smokiness of the bourbon played beautifully off of the sweet tanginess of the peach intermingling with the warm earthiness of the cumin. I wanted to figure out how to capture that in this chutney.
Smoking was the answer, and you can use either a stovetop smoker (my lifesaver in a NYC kitchen…) or the grill. The smoked peaches by themselves are distinctive but a bit overwhelming until cooked down a bit more with some sugar, honey and the roasted cumin seeds. The resulting chutney has a gorgeous flavor! Smoky, sweet, tangy, with the bite of the cumin seed…it’s perfect on pork chops, fish or even with creamy brie on crackers. Enjoy!
Yields approximately 1 quart
6 large, lusciously-ripe peaches, halved with pit removed (skin on)
1 ¼ tbsps cumin seeds
2-3 tbsps water
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
pinch of salt
The first step of this chutney is smoking the peaches. I used a stovetop smoker and cherry wood. Placing the peaches cut side down on the grate, I smoked the peaches for 6 minutes and achieved the perfect level of smokiness. If you choose to do this on the grill, I would keep the temperature low (200° F to 225° F). Once the chips start to smoke, place the peaches cut side down on the side with no flame (indirect heat), cover, and smoke for about 10-15 minutes.
Peel the peaches, the skin should slip off relatively easily, and cut into a fine dice. Set aside.
Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, and toast, stirring, until fragrant and slightly darker in color. Reduce the heat slightly, add the diced peaches and remaining ingredients and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring at intervals, until the peaches are soft. You want this chutney to have form, so overcooking will turn the peaches to mush.
You can serve this warm, cold, or at room temperature.