Jun 30, 2011

Pancetta-Wrapped Peaches on the Grill

Ripe, run-down-your-chin juicy peaches, wrapped in pancetta with a basil leaf and grilled just long enough for the pork fat to melt into the peach and crisp up around the edges and the peach sugar to caramelize.

This. Is. A. Flavor. Bomb.

You put it in your mouth and take one bite and it's almost too much to be able to process. You will lose yourself for a moment. Or two. This is smack your hand on the table and moan good.

And yeah, the bed of arugula underneath makes for a perfect peppery bite in contrast to all that decadence. And there's a dressing of peach-infused white balsamic combined with basil-infused olive oil that you could drink up by itself. (I discovered the oil and vinegar at Con' Olio.)

But the warm, juicy peaches and the salty melted pork fat. Whew!

Don't make this for just anyone. Make this for someone you are serious about because they will be serious about you after one bite.

You could do these as an appetizer, with one peach half per person on a little bed of arugula. Or be gluttons, like we were, and have several on a larger salad as your dinner. Because, really, what are you going to serve after this?

Nuff said. I'm not overselling. Go and try for yourself. Quick, before the peaches are gone. (Get organic ones so you can leave the skins on. They hold together better on the grill that way.)

Tip: keep the pancetta in the fridge until you are ready to assemble, it's easier to handle when it's still cold.

Grilled Peaches with Basil and Pancetta

3-4 organic peaches
6-8 slices pancetta
one bunch basil
6-8 wooden skewers

2 tablespoons basil-infused olive oil
2 tablespoons peach-infused white balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

vegetable oil

two large handfuls of arugula (or arugula and spinach)

Soak the skewers in water for about 30 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill. Drain and set aside.

Get your charcoal-fire or gas grill going. (We've also done this on a grill pan over the stove.)

Cut the peaches in half. One half should let go of the peach pit fairly easily. For the other clingy half, slide the point of a paring knife around the edge of the pit and just slightly under it until it releases from the pit. Do this with all of the peaches and set them on a plate.

Take one peach half, lay a basil leaf over the well in the center, and wrap a slice of pancetta around it tightly, until it overlaps. Repeat with the remaining peach halves.

Take the remaining basil, stack the leaves on top of each other and slice them or roll them up and snip into slivers with kitchen shears. Set aside for serving.

Run a skewer through the peach halves about a quarter-inch from the surface of the cut side. Repeat with one or two more peach halves on the same skewer. Push them up next to each other as close as they'll go. Brush or rub a little vegetable oil on the cut side and the back side of the peaches.

Brush or wipe the grill grate with vegetable oil.

Place the skewers on the grill with the cut side up (round side on the fire). Grill over medium-high heat for about five minutes. Flip over and grill another 2-3 minutes on the cut side. Remove from grill.

Put a large handful of arugula on each plate. Sprinkle with the leftover bits of basil.

Remove peaches from the skewers and serve over the arugula. Drizzle with the dressing and serve warm.

Serves... well, you decide how many. (We'd have this as dinner for the two of us.)

Adapted from Food & Wine.

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