Friday, August 22, 2014

Peach Mostarda

The farmers's markets had a plethora of peaches in July, and I was happy to buy them. Sad thing is--I am allergic to stone fruits. Fortunately, the allergy is peculiar in that if I cook the fruit, even for a short time, whatever compound within it that makes me itchy is neutralized. This means microwaved peaches, but once they cool down, I can barely tell they've been cooked. And they're still tastier and fresher than canned peaches. (I chop them and put them in a bowl before cooking them...I don't recommend microwaving a whole peach. I haven't tried it, but I can imagine an explosion might ensue.)

Sometimes I buy more fruit than we can eat out of hand (or out of the microwave), so that means getting creative. One batch of white peaches inspired me to make a mostarda, an Italian chutney-like concoction of fruit flavored with mustard. After checking out several mostarda recipes online, I decided to concoct my own. What I really wanted to do was make the pickled mustard seeds I had read about in David Chang's Momofuku cookbook. Since prepared mustard has vinegar in it, Chang's seeds (which he confesses to have stolen from Tom Colicchio) are like the ultimate whole grain mustard. Why couldn't I combine them with peaches to make a savory-sweet condiment?

So that's what I did. I made the pickled mustard seeds first, then I combined the peaches with more vinegar, some sugar, and powdered mustard to make a quick-and-dirty mostarda. Added the mustard seeds to the mostarda and voila! a lightly crunchy condiment that adds a bit of punch to a simple grilled chicken breast or pan-fried pork chop. That's how I served it the first time, as a sauce over a simple salt-and-pepper-seasoned pork chop.

Peach Mostarda

1/3 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided use
3 firm ripe peaches
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon powdered mustard

Combine the mustard seeds, water, vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the mustard seeds are plump and tender, about 45 minutes. Add a bit more water if they look like they're going to dry out. They'll be plump and resemble caviar when they're done. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut an X in the skin of each peach and blanch them in boiling water for a minute or so to loosen the skins. Peel peaches and cut into large dice. Combine the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and powdered mustard in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the peaches and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer for 10 minutes, until peaches are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

When both are cool, add 3 tablespoons of the pickled mustard seeds to the peaches. The remaining pickled mustard seeds can be stored in a covered container in the fridge indefinitely. Both can be served with meats and cheeses, or used as a sandwich topping.

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