Off the Fork: Whole foods and the joy of roasting large objects

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Just like the baseball playoffs, the East End’s giant peaches are an end-of-summer treat (and bigger than a baseball).

CHARITY ROBEY PHOTO | Just like the baseball playoffs, the East End’s giant peaches are an end-of-summer treat (and bigger than a baseball).

It gives me great satisfaction to roast something large. The pride of the Thanksgiving turkey, the suckling pig, the rack of lamb placed on the table in triumph, the dish that practically yells, “There is plenty, have some more.” 

Roasting large things is a pleasure usually confined to meats and the occasional winter squash. So when Clark McCombe of Briermere Farms invited me to admire some large peaches that had just been picked in his orchard near Riverhead, I couldn’t take my eyes off the one-pound plus fruits.  I went home with seven pounds, which sounds like a lot until you consider that I had just six peaches.

A one-and-a-half pounder at Briermere Farms in Riverhead.

A one-and-a-half pounder at Briermere Farms in Riverhead.

If you split the fruit in half and scoop out the pit, you get a nice pocket to fill with the brown-sugar crumble and almonds. The peaches will hold their shape; the flesh is creamy and soft, the topping crunchy and almonds browned. It’s OK to use smaller peaches, but you’ll have to do a lot more peeling, and shorten the cooking time by about half.

Giant peach-roast with brown-sugar crumble

Two 1-pound peaches make 4 servings

2 peaches of 1-pound or more each

½ cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter

091417_OfftheFork_PeachCrumble

Peach Crumble, the final product.

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2. Using a large slotted spoon, lower each peach into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove, cool immediately by running the peach under cold water. Slip the skin off.

3. Cut each peach in half, starting at the stem end, and cutting through the flesh to the pit, 360 degrees around the peach. With one hand on one half of the peach, and one on the other, twist the two halves free of the pit. You may have to use a spoon to pry the pit out of one of the halves.

4. Line the bottom of a baking dish with a piece of parchment, and butter the parchment. Place the peaches on the buttered parchment with pitted side up, making a cup that will hold the crumble.

5. Mix the flour, sugar and spices in a bowl and using your fingers, incorporate the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over the peaches, and distribute the slivered almonds on top of each peach.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes until the topping is brown and the peaches still hold their shape.

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