Pairing fruit with meat is always a good idea. But somehow, for most home cooks considering what to make for dinner, fruit comes to mind less readily than, say, spinach. Our local orchards are currently teeming with fruit – cherry season is recently over, but peaches and apples and pears are on the horizon. And the woods all over the Hudson Valley are still full of wild blueberries and soon to be lush with blackberries. So the next time you heat up the grill for pork chops or steak or chicken thighs, or grab a skillet for breakfast sausage, consider pairing fruit with meat.
Peaches will be available at the beginning of August at Fix Brothers Fruit Farm in Hudson. “Peach jam would be great at breakfast on a muffin or toast. Peach jam is also great when used as a glaze on pork,” says Linda Fix, who is in charge of advertising and social media for this generational farm, not far from our new Hudson shop. As the name suggests, there are many brothers at the fruit farm, all with their own preferences about pairing fruit with meat. Linda’s husband, Bob, is one of three fourth generation brothers. “The fifth generation are all of our kids,” she explains.
To be in the know about what’s growing and when at Fix Brothers, sign up for their email list on their website. When something is ripe in the orchards, you’ll get a fruit alert. Their initial peach email went out in late July with details on PYO (pick your own) opening day (August 2nd), hours (8 am to 5 pm), price per pound ($1.50), a reminder to BYO containers, and a few facts: “Remember, one thing about peaches – they will continue to ripen on the tree. There will be many ready on [opening day], but there will be more ripe ones as the days continue. There is quite a nice crop this year. This season usually runs about 2 weeks. Keep watch on the website and Facebook for updates of availability.”
We’re planning on halving their peaches and grilling them alongside pork belly.
If you want some peaches to pair with your meat, don’t delay. Local fruit seasons are fast and furious, and they come and go before you realize it. If you miss the peaches, or even if you don’t, make sure to get out there for apples. “Of course apple sauce is a definite for pork,” says Linda Fix.
As for the wild blackberries? If you’ve never made a simple fruit sauce, compote, or fruit reduction, make this the season. If you’re the kind of cook who likes to tackle methods, you can read up on the differences between these various types of sauces. Or you can just cook the berries and see what happens. Use a small amount of water and cook them on low heat until you reach a desired thickness. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes. If you have too much water, turn up the heat to boil it off. If it’s too thick, add more water. Then sweeten to taste. Use honey or maple syrup or sugar, depending on what you prefer. A little lemon zest can be tasty. The tartness of blackberries pairs particularly well with any grilled meat. If you pick enough berries to freeze, you can make a sauce in the dark days of winter, and it will transport you right back to August.
Here are a few of Fix Brothers family recipes that go beautifully with breakfast sausage.
FIX BROTHERS FRUIT FARM APPLE NUT MUFFINS
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup apple juice or milk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup finely chopped, peeled apple
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Domino ® Sugar ‘N Cinnamon (if you prefer to use other sweeteners, this is easy to substitute, and add in the cinnamon separately)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 medium muffin cups or line with paper baking cups; set aside.
In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of dry mixture, set aside. In another mixing bowl, combine apple juice, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Add the egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in apples and nuts. Sprinkle with Domino ® Sugar’N Cinnamon.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.
Muffins, like quick breads, become tough if overmixed. Combine the ingredients just until the dry ingredients are moistened. To freeze muffins, wrap tightly in heavy foil or place in freezer bags and freeze up to 3 months. To reheat frozen muffins, wrap in heavy foil. Heat in a 300 degree oven 15 to 18 minutes for medium muffins. One apple yields 1 cup chopped.
FIX BROTHERS FRUIT FARM PEACH JAM
4 cups of chopped peaches
1/4 cup of lemon juice
7 1/2 cups of sugar
1 package of Certo (or you can substitute this for another pectin of your liking, or even thicken jam without pectin)
Measure sugar into separate bowl.
Stir sugar into fruit.
Add 1/2 teaspoon butter (to prevent foaming during cooking).
Bring mixture to full rolling boil (one that does not stop when stirred on high heat).
Stirring constantly, open Certo and quickly stir into the fruit.
Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
Immediately fill jars and seal (jars need to be preheated to approximately 200 degrees before filling them).
Wipe lip of jar so it is clean before sealing.
Invert jars for 5 minutes and then turn upright.