Happy Fourth of July everyone, whether you’re taking a big summer vacation now or just enjoying a long weekend of decompression with the family. I’ll be planted as per tradition at a poolside bar in Palm Beach sipping extra spicy Bloody Marys and watching the Wimbledon finals (go Rafa!) Remember, we are closed in Miami all day only on Monday (Cayman is open at regular business hours,) but you can enjoy Michael’s Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Peaches from his cookbook at home. Your South Florida groceries have tons of juicy ones from Georgia, and the recipe is below. Signing off… for now!
Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Peaches with Aged Balsamic, Toasted Pecans & Piave Vecchio
In my book, bacon-wrapped anything is good. The crisp bacon and juicy fruit strike a total balance of salty and sweet. It’s hard to beat a fresh-picked slurpy peach, but these little bites are a sexy way to dress up the luscious summer fruit, making for a sophisticated, beautiful small plate.
Make sure that the peaches you buy are freestone, not clingstone. The pit pops right out of freestone peaches, while the clingstone literally cling to the pit and you will have to cut around it. If you can’t find freestone, get the clingstone but just carefully cut around the pits with a paring knife.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, checking the nuts periodically, until they are fragrant and lightly toasted, 8 to 15 minutes depending on the type of nut. For example, pine nuts toast faster than pecans.
Ingredient Note: Piave Vecchio Cheese
Similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave Vecchio is an aged cow’s milk cheese from Italy but without the granularity. Its unique sweet and nutty flavor makes a great addition to any cheese platter.
16 slices (1/2 pound) Maple Cured Bacon, or store-bought, cut 1/8-inch thick
2 large freestone peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 8 wedges each (see Note)
Fleur de sel
2 cups arugula leaves, for serving
1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
Piave Vecchio, for serving (see Note)
Aged balsamic vinegar, vin cotto, or saba, for drizzling
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill and get it very hot. Here is a great tip to keep food from sticking to your grill: Take a few paper towels and fold them several times to make a thick square. Pour some olive oil in a bowl and dip the wad of paper towels into it. Carefully and quickly wipe the hot grates of the grill; this will create a nonstick grilling surface.
Lay the bacon on a cutting board. Set a peach wedge at the edge of each slice and roll up to enclose the peaches. The bacon should wrap around the peach pieces no more than 1 1/2 times otherwise it won’t cook all the way through. Put the peaches on the grill, bacon seam side down. Grill the peaches until the bacon is crisp, turning often, about 8 minutes.
To serve, put a small pile of arugula on each plate, divide the peaches on top. I like to sprinkle them with a tiny amount of fleur de sel. Scatter with pecans, and shave cheese over each one. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. The peaches are terrific hot or at room temp.