Grilled Peach Chutney

This summer I was deputized to take charge of my family’s Fourth of July dinner. As I am an obsessive and a planner, I decided what I would make weeks in advance: pork shoulder marinated in my homemade jerk sauce, then cooked in my dad’s smoker for eight or ten hours until it was meltingly tender. This is the kind of food project that appeals to me: slow cooking, with just enough wonky food science to cue in the never-distant internal third-person narrator. Also, in London, I don’t have a barbecue, so I have become increasingly fixated on the direct application of fire and smoke to food.

The temperature controls on the smoker are highly technical, but I am not easily daunted.

It is difficult, if not imprudent, to plan things too exactly when one is cooking a meal like this. One should always be prepared for serendipity and chance inspiration. On this occasion, that inspiration was peaches. Specifically, a bushel of peach seconds, bruised, slightly squashed, and unsightly, that we bought at a farm stand for $8. It was a Eureka moment. I would make a grilled peach chutney to accompany the smoked jerked pork shoulder.

This also was a highly scientific endeavour. I set up a little hibachi upwind from the smoker. The peaches were too mauled for me to halve them and grill them properly, so I grilled them whole, turning them until they were soft, slightly charred, and the skin peeled off easily. I realized too late that that hibachi was on a slope so the peaches kept rolling off briskly as their internal liquids heated and shifted mass.

But as they got softer and stickier grill they did. The resulting chutney was gorgeous, with a heavy fragrant summer peach flavour, a little kick of chilli pepper, and a light smokiness throughout. The pork was pretty fabulous too.

Ingredients:

Eight very ripe whole peaches

½ cup cider vinegar

1 small sweet white onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup brown sugar

¼ cup white sugar

1 jalapeno or other spicy green chilli pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon powdered ginger or half a teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon coriander (optional)

A few healthy grinds of cracked black pepper

*** You will also need a charcoal grill. With a gas grill you won’t get the same degree of smokiness in the fruit, and roasting, while nice, will only caramelize.

Method:

Heat the coals in your grill until the flames have died down and they are glowing and finely coated with ash. Place the peaches on the grill and cook, turning frequently, until they are soft, lightly charred, and the skin has started to split and peel (about 20 minutes). Take the peaches off the grill and remove and discard their skins. Cut the flesh away from the pits into coarse one to two inch chunks, reserving the juices, and discarding the pits.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine the vinegar, onion, jalapeno and brown sugar and cook over medium low heat until the liquid has reduced by at least half, about 5-10 minutes. Add the peaches and their juice along with the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until the peaches are soft but not completely disintegrated, about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, then cook until flavors are incorporated.

Makes about two and a half cups of chutney, or enough to accompany 12 portions of smoked spicy pork and still have some left over to can and put away until winter.

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20 thoughts on “Grilled Peach Chutney

  1. The caramelized peaches look so glorious, I’m wondering if I would get to the chutney if I made them — I’m thinking they’d be great with burnt caramel ice cream and little shortbread cookies — maybe ginger or black pepper. I just got a lot of wonderful peaches this morning at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.

    • OH MY GOD. My mouth is watering. They were wonderfully smoky. They’d be fantastic with burnt caramel ice cream and shortbread cookies, and if you were a restaurant, bloggers and yelpers would be swooning over you. Fabulous idea!

  2. Looks terrific. I love jerk! I also wish that more Jamaicans would immigrate to Seattle and open some restaurants. Perhaps, if they knew how much marijuana would be available to them over here they would.

    • I have a dream that involves importing West Indians and Lebanese and Pakistanis to Seattle, and we’d feast on smoky spicy jerk and grilled lamb and REAL falafel and proper kebabs. Seattle needs a proper kebab shop. Now, to take on the INS….

  3. Gorgeous! I just want a big pile of this on pork chops.

    Of course, your smoked pork isn’t too shabby either 😉

    Who am I kidding? If I were at your barbecue, I would grab a pork shoulder and run to bushes before anyone noticed!

  4. wow this sounds delciious. how do you even get to the chutney stage! I probably would devour those grilled peaches right off the grill already, or if I can get myself to the fridge, with a huge dollop of ice cream, oh with pancakes. drool. AND THAT PORK. deserves more than 1 photo 😉

    • I got yelled at for not taking more pork photos! When it was cooked and had rested I was so excited to eat it that I cut it up without remembering to take a final photo — the one above is when the pork still had a couple hours to go in the smoker.

  5. Oh. Damn. That looks good. Now I really want a smoker. One day we shall take bbq seriously in this country and smokers will be readily available (along with cast iron skillets – another wonderful US thing). Until that day I will look at recipes like this and salivate enviously.

    And the peaches? Great idea. Sometimes serendipity really adds the icing on the cake, or in this case the chutney on the pork.

    • You of all people really need a smoker — you’d do such glorious things with it. Is it really impossible to find them here? That is TRAGIC. Next time I go to the US I’ll try to find a nice cast-iron skillet to bring back for you.

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