Poachin’ Peaches

I’ve had this desire to poach some fruit all summer. It started when we had our first pile of apricots back in July, but we ate all those delicious little suckers before I ever got around to it. So when a half bottle of Muscat (from Oregon) was left untouched the other night, and I had 3 big, beautiful peaches sitting on my counter, I decided it was time.

Here’s the thing about poached peaches, they are my kind of dessert. This is a dish that is nice and easy – not requiring any sort of careful measurements of the baking variety, it can be made in advance and my goodness is it delicious. These peaches are plenty classy for your next dinner party, or you can just make them for yourself to enjoy, because really they’re that simple and because you totally deserve a treat.

Peaches, halved, pitted and ready for poaching

I did some recipe searching in the interest of quantities and cooking times and after reviewing serveral recipes I came across this one on Food 52. All of the recipes I had previously considered called for the peaches to be scored and blanched in order to remove the skins before poaching. Turns out that step is totally unnecessary – if you poach the peaches with the skin on, they’ll slip right off when they’re finished, and the bonus is that the peach skins turn the poaching liquid a beautiful pink color.

Gently poaching

So basically it goes like this: get some nice peaches, cut them in half, simmer them in some wine until they’re tender, remove them and slip of the skins. Then cook that liquid until it thickens to a syrup, allow everything to cool (or chill until later) and serve.

Peach skins result in a pink syrup

I doctored up my recipe a bit, adding tarragon and honey to the syrup. I thought the herbal note and contrasting sweetness would be interesting (turns out I was right). And I served it with a scoop of fresh ricotta. It was, as we say, bangin’.

Poached peaches and ricotta drizzled with honey tarragon syrup

Poached Peaches with Ricotta and Honey Tarragon Syrup

  • 4 large, ripe peaches (or in my case, 3 very large peaches)
  • 2 cups sweet white wine (I used a Muscat)
  • 1 sprig of tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • fresh ricotta for serving (a generous 1/2 cup)

Halve and pit the peaches. Heat the wine to a steady simmer in a saucepan, slide the peaches into the liquid cut side down, and cover (if they don’t fit you can do them in 2 batches). Cook for 4 minutes then, using 2 spoons, gently turn them over, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Test for doneness by seeing if a butter knife will easily pierce – cooking time may vary with the ripeness of peaches.

Remove the peaches to a shallow bowl and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, slip the skins off. Meanwhile, bruise the tarragon (smash it a few times with the flat side of a knife or back of a spoon) and add, along with honey, to the remaining wine in saucepan. Increase the heat to a gentle boil and cook until reduced by half. Add in any juices that have collected from the peaches and transfer to a dish to cool.

You can allow everything to cool at room temperature and serve, or you can cover the peaches tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate (store the syrup in a separate container) overnight. When ready, spoon a bit of syrup into a shallow bowl, place 2 peach halves and a heaping spoonful of fresh ricotta on top, then drizzle with a bit of additional syrup. Enjoy!

Action shot!

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