I was just spending some time thinking about the fact that this is a big grilling weekend. In fact, I’ve been a little obsessed about barbecuing lately, because I will be going to Foodways Texas BBQ Camp next month. It is a three day immersion study into the art of smoke and fire in College Station, Texas. I figured that I needed to warm up a little and I’ve spent the last week playing with my Grandpa Virgil’s BBQ sauce recipe, canning the sauce, and getting my Patio Pal smoker in fighting form. That name sounds like it might be a cousin of the Weber, but in fact it is a rather gigantic steel barrel smoker with a fire box and double smoking compartments. It was made in Wichita Falls and I gave it to my husband Pitts back before we were married. I have hit a few home-runs in the gift department, and this is one of the memorable ones. Anyway, it is a rather serious and manly object. And for years, I’ve gladly left the workings up to Pitts. “Here is meat, man…make fire and smoke it.” I would handle procurement and salads and sides and he would “man” the smoker. And we spent many years sitting out behind our house on the other side of town, pre-kids, drinking beer and smoking wonderful meats, and generally goofing off after work and on the weekends.
Now we have moved from that place and time, and we have kids and we don’t drink beer and one of our favorite smoking buddies, so to speak, has died. I cleaned out the monster smoker this past weekend and scraped out a little, though not all, of the gunk on the inside of it. It was not cleaning, so much as some light housekeeping. I still don’t know the difference between funk and excellent seasoning for a smoker but I’m erring on the side of the possibility that it is perfectly seasoned until someone who knows more than I says otherwise. But, as I did it, I thought that there were probably still remnants of those very nights and days stuck in the black walls of that steel pit. And it made me a little sad and happy, in that smiling through a tear or two kind of a way. I don’t miss the long days drinking beer in the backyard, really I don’t. But we do miss Steave and we do, every once in awhile, miss the absolute freedom of those times, if only for an hour or two. And there it all was, memories burnt into the inside of a cooker.
I got a little bit excited about firing it up again. It has been a long time since we threw a brisket on our smoker, and tomorrow I will be doing just that. One of many differences will be that Pitts can only act in an advisory capacity. I am going to learn how to barbecue meat. I’ve read Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue from cover to cover. I’ve got Elizabeth Engelhardt’s Republic of Barbecue dog-eared and ready for more reading while the smoke wafts through the air of Bluffview, likely making some of my neighbors either very jealous or very perturbed, or both. I’ll have one particular neighbor over and bribe her with jars of BBQ sauce to tell me her stories about the inside workings of an honest-to-God barbecue joint. Tomorrow is the first day of hands-on cramming for barbecue camp.
Now, this will be barbecuing as opposed to grilling. I suppose I never really thought about the distinction much before my recent studies. But this peach recipe is for “grilling” peaches. You can even do it inside on a grill pan which distinguishes the act very clearly from barbecuing, which according to Robb, must involve smoke and wood, unless you are in prison. In that case, there is dispensation for cooking in an industrial prison oven. But, as I pondered my outdoor cooking, of all sorts, which I will do this weekend, I remembered this little jewel of a recipe and thought you might like to see it. I have done a similar treatment with nectarines in a cast iron skillet, but this is all about peaches and honey. And if you live near me, I hope it is all about Texas peaches, Texas honey, and Texas pecans. I do believe that if you search just a little bit, you will even find some Texas Greek-style yogurt. Just make sure it is a firm variety so that you can make a little scoop as opposed to a puddle.
I developed this simple recipe to appear on the Marcus Samuellson website last year. I have a habit of not adequately promoting such a coup because it might appear to be braggadoccio, and now I realize that you…my reason for doing this…may have missed it altogether. That has been a hard thing for me with Pie. Self-promotion has never been my strong suit. I far prefer to just sit back and make myself available for compliments. It doesn’t work so great in this field. Thus, the bevy of “sharing” buttons under each post for Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest. But here it is now. And actually, the timing is perfect.
And it is an easy, sweet little treat that really sings about the season. And if your peaches aren’t ready yet, they will be soon I hope, wherever you are.
Grilled Peaches with Yogurt and Honey: (2 servings)
1 peach, cut in half and pit removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons local honey
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
1. Lightly coat the flesh and skin of the peach with olive oil. Heat a grill pan over a medium flame. Place the peach halves, cut side down, onto the hot grill pan. Allow the peaches to sit on the grill pan for 8 to 10 minutes or until the peaches have grill marks or a nice golden brown appearance on the cut side. Reduce the heat if they are browning too quickly. Turn the peaches and allow them to cook on the skin side for approximately 5 minutes more. Remove the peaches from the pan and allow them to cool briefly. (You can also prepare this on an outdoor grill. Simply cook them on the cooler side of the grill and watch them carefully to make sure they are not cooking too quickly. You want them to generally keep their shape and not turn into mush. Softened is good…burnt mush not good…burnt and uncooked not good.)
2. To plate the dessert, place one peach half on each dish. Place a scoop of yogurt in the hollow of each peach half. Drizzle honey over the yogurt, the peaches and on the dish around the peaches. Sprinkle chopped pecans onto each dish in and around the honey. Serve immediately.
Other great recipes that come to mind for a eve of Summer cookout or picnic are Watermelon and Goat Cheese Bites, Creamy Avocado Dip, Key Lime Pie, Sunshine Slush, Blackberry Lime Popsicles, and Orange Julius Popcicles. And I certainly didn’t mean to imply that one need be imprisoned to have an excuse to make or eat oven brisket. That was just a matter of definitions and barbecue culture. I actually have a terrific oven cooked (though not “barbecue” brisket) recipe that you should look into if you haven’t the energy, time or desire to fire up a smoker. Serve it with Blue Cheese Coleslaw and enjoy!
An important closing thought:
My heartfelt condolences for those families for whom Memorial Day weekend is a time of grief and painful remembrances. Thank you to those families who have given the most that can be given to a nation. And, I’m sorry for your loss.
A special thanks to all of you who are serving or who have retired from the services, and our police officers and firefighters and other first responders. And to the moms, dads, sisters brothers, children and spouses of those still serving, thank you to you as well.