Home Cooking: Dinner with late summer fruit
August 8, 2018
In our mountain community summer arrives late and leaves early. I live up against the southern edge of Blue River, in the woods, where I can still see the Milky Way at night. When I head into town on Highway 9 I find myself glancing at a huge grove of Aspen trees which cover an entire nearby hillside, checking for the first signs of golden leaves.
The leaves have not begun to turn, which means we might have a few more weeks of summer. It also means we need to enjoy nature's bounty by cooking with late summer fruits that are at their juicy, ripened peak. They're also on sale at your local grocers, which is always the reward of cooking with the seasons.
All three of these dinner ideas use fruit as an integral part of a savory dish. The fruit, already ripe, is roasted or sautéed to bring its natural sweetness forward.
Best of all, each of these recipes is easy to prepare and can easily be adapted to your outdoor grill. Who doesn't want to grill outside and enjoy dinner on the deck during our long cool evenings?
Pork Chops with Peaches and Pickled Jalapeños
This is an elegant one pan entrée that's visually as pretty as it is delicious.
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2-4 thick-cut pork chops
2 peaches cut into ½ inch slices
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons diced, pickled jalapeño peppers
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of butter
Preheat oven to 375F.
Sprinkle both sides of each pork chop with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof skillet on the stovetop, add one tablespoon of olive oil and then sear each side of the pork chops, about two minutes on each side, over high heat. Add peach slices to the skillet, along with the rosemary sprig, butter, a splash of balsamic vinegar and the diced jalapeño peppers.
Transfer the skillet to an oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the pork chops are thoroughly cooked.
Roasted Chicken Breasts with Red Grapes
This gorgeous dish could not be easier or more delicious. It's less than five minutes to assemble, 30 minutes to cook in the oven. The red and black grapes take on a smoky jammy depth as they roast, which is the perfect complement to the chicken.
2-4 split chicken breasts bone-in, skin-on
1 lb. black or red grapes
1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 generous splash of balsamic vinegar
1 big pinch Chinese five spice seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425F.
Place chicken breasts skin side up in a baking dish or pan, sprinkle each breast liberally with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, season with Chinese five spice, salt and pepper. (Optional: mix the seasonings with the butter, then gently separating the skin from the breast meat, slide the seasoned butter in-between the skin and meat.) Place bunches of grapes on either side of the chicken breasts. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the breasts are cooked thoroughly. Check after 20 minutes to make sure the chicken skin is not burning, if so, cover with foil.
Flat Iron Steak with Cherries in a Red Wine Sauce
The combination of red wine and cherries creates a sweet/savory flavor that is perfect with the depth of flavor from steak. We threw the flat iron steaks on the grill, but you can use any cut of steak and cook it on the stovetop.
2-4 steaks of your choice, one per person
½ lb of cherries, pitted and cut in half or quarters
1 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
While the steaks are on the grill or in a skillet on a stovetop, prepare the sauce. To a small saucepan add cherries, wine, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until the sauce reduces by half and thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings. You can add more wine if the sauce reduces too quickly. I tested this recipe by adding a clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary and allowing them to simmer in the sauce for 10 minutes. I wasn't crazy about their interaction with the cherries, but feel free to experiment. Allow the steaks to rest before cutting into them, then plate the steaks and spoon the sauce on top.
Suzanne Anderson is giving a talk about the writing life and having a book signing on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 3-5 pm at the Next Page Bookstore on Main Street in Frisco. She will have copies of her most recent books: Comfort Me Cookbook, her children's book: Henry's Guide to Happiness, Knit Together, a compilation of her Summit Daily faith columns, and her latest novel, A Map of Heaven. Please stop by to say hello!
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