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Discovering Smoky, Succulent Grilled Peaches

July 10, 2020

Grilled peaches are amazing on their own, but also make a wonderful accent to a multitude of dishes.

“What can we defrost? The coals are perfect!”

This is a phrase that pretty much anyone who’s spent any time at our house has heard at one point or another. It’s not unusual for us to throw something new onto the hot grill AFTER we’ve finished eating a meal, simply because the coals are still at the optimal temperature to grill something to perfection. Plus, it’s a great way to meal prep for later in the week.

That’s how we started grilling fruit… because there was nothing in the freezer we could defrost in time. And the coals were perfect!

You see, my husband Pierre is a die-hard charcoal grill master. It’s one of his favorite things to do on any given day. He has even grilled in the pouring rain on numerous occasions (including outside of stadiums), and loves every minute. We have a built-in gas grill, too, which is great for when you want to cook something quickly. But, you can’t beat the rich, smoky flavor of charcoal and wood. The downside (or upside, if you ask Pierre) to using charcoal is that it requires more technique. There’s a bit an art form to figuring out how much charcoal you need for a specific grilling task, where to place the charcoal in the pit for the desired heat distribution, and knowing when the charcoals are ready for the task at hand.

We regularly grill pineapple. It’s great on its own, but is also a wonderful addition to a burger. In fact, I buy pineapple almost every time we plan on grilling burgers. Honestly, we like lots of accoutrements and typically set out a whole burger bar with tons of options. We’ve also grilled a lot of bananas. Grilled bananas are an easy and almost sinful dessert. Just place an unpeeled banana on a hot grill until it softens and the skin turns deep brown. Then slice it open, top with cinnamon, nutmeg, and condensed milk, and scoop it out with a spoon. Yum!

I rarely buy peaches, which is why we’ve never attempted to grill them before. I’ve had amazing peaches in other parts of the country. But for some reason, the majority of the peaches available in my sleepy little town aren’t very sweet. But now I know the secret to pulling the sugars out of them — put them on the grill!

grilled peaches with honey drizzle
Photo: Christi Simoneaux

We went to our family fishing camp (home of our DIY fire pit) for the 4th of July weekend and invited our friend Kim to bring her family for a picnic. After everyone was stuffed from gorging on grilled meats and yummy side dishes, we hear the familiar lament from Pierre…”Awe, man. The coals are perfect.” I had caught a nice sheepshead that morning that I was planning on grilling the following day. I was hoping he wouldn’t remember, because grilled fish is not nearly as good leftover, and I was way too stuffed to eat it at the time. Luckily, Kim excitedly shouted, “Oooh, I almost forgot! I brought peaches to grill. They’re in the car.”

Since she lives only a couple of miles away from us, I wasn’t terribly excited, knowing that she has the same limited access that I do to decent peaches. But it kept Pierre away from my sheepshead, so it worked for me. I had no idea what a treat I was in for.

The grilling method is simple. You want the grill heat to be medium-high, and it was. After all, the coals were perfect. Halve the peaches, lightly oil the grill grate (or the face of the peach), then place the peaches flesh-side down for about 5 minutes or until the flesh is caramelized. Then turn the peaches over and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

We didn’t think to remove the pits, but no harm there. We just ate around them. Next time, though, I will. There will definitely be a next time because these peaches were amazing — softy and juicy with a sultry sweetness, accented by a hint of smoke and char. Oh, but the story doesn’t stop there.

It just so happens that Kim has a brand new beekeeping hobby and brought the very first jar of honey harvested from her new bees, collected that morning. It doesn’t get any fresher than that! She lightly drizzled fresh honey over the grilled peaches. The flavors paired incredibly well. And the coup de gras… another drizzle of Woodford Reserve bourbon for those who were so inclined (I was).

We had way more peaches than we could possible eat, especially after feasting all day. But the leftovers did NOT go to waste. I took them home, chopped them up, and have been adding the grilled bits of yumminess to meals all week. As I quickly discovered, grilled peaches make a wonderful accent to a variety of dishes — salads, oatmeal, quinoa, ice cream, pork.

On my next trip to the grocery, I’m definitely going to stock up on more peaches. I have a feeling that at some point in the near future, the coals will be perfect.

. . .

For more grilling tips and recipes, check out our Recipes for Company library.

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