A few weeks ago, a friend of Ian’s sent him a care package of a dozen Georgia peaches. Wrapped in thin, crinkly sheafs of white paper, nestled in individual foam nooks, the bounty of summer fruit looked just like the emoji, sun-gold, fragrant and chipper in their little homes.
Upon opening the package, I couldn’t help myself. In a moment of animal lust, I grabbed one of the plump, floral-perfumed fruit and devoured it over the sink, sticky sweet juice dripping slowly down my chin and neck.
Was it peach season then? Is it peach season now? A month ago, Kim Severson of the New York Times wrote a delightful piece on a debate among Southerners and writers about the perfect time to eat a peach:
“Kathleen Purvis, the Southern food writer most likely to let you know when you have something wrong, made a peach declaration on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.
Peaches, she said, should never be eaten before the Fourth of July.”
I love the charm of this easy-to-remember rule, even as others maintain a different set of standards. For me and Ian, that box of fruit lasted but a few days. Sliced over cinnamon-laced oatmeal, eaten over the sink, chopped into grain bowls — it was a bounty that brought summer home.
As the days went on, the firm peaches hinted that they weren’t long for the world, the perfumey luster dissipating in our kitchen as the skins started to dry and pucker. We didn’t have enough to bake a pie, so I did the next best thing: poach them in a pool of rich, nutty brown butter, a sultry, almost too-sensual topping for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Throw on some nuts slightly toasted in brown butter and sugar, if you want to be even more decadent.
Even now, as I write this, I’m hot under the collar.
Recipe: Brown butter-poached peaches with ice cream
Serves 2, Cooking time: About 20 minutes.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, or to taste
2 ripe peaches, sliced in half (skin-on)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Melt the butter in a pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Swirl the butter until it starts to bubble and smell nutty, about five minutes. Lower heat to medium low and place peach halves, skin-side up, into the butter. Tilt pan slightly and spoon butter over each peach half, about four minutes. Gently flip the peaches with tongs, so they are skin-side down in the pan. Divide one tablespoon of sugar amongst the four peach halves, spooning brown sugar into each cavity, and continue spooning melted butter over each peach, another three minutes. Remove peaches to the side. Do not clean the pan. Add walnuts and remaining sugar to the hot pan. Stir walnuts, sugar and butter until walnuts are fragrant and the sugar caramelizes, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve warm peaches topped with walnuts with your favorite ice cream. Mine is vanilla.