Tue Aug 12, 2014
It's peach season! Peaches seem to be match made in heaven for the grill—they not only compliment fire kissed meats so well (especially pork), but are great when grilled themselves. In all honesty, I'm not a huge peach guy, but give me a grill and some peaches and this fruit goes from one I'd easily pass up to something I can find a million delicious ways to use.
So it stands to reason peach barbecue sauce is a good thing, but I've rarely had a peach barbecue sauce that lives up to its fruity promise—this stands true for so many fruit sauces, actually. Putting the peach fruit and center, this recipe set out to fix that problem, which I think it did, and then some.
For sauce making most of the year, I opt for frozen fruit which is picked and flash frozen at the height of its freshness. When fruit is in season though, I always go for the fresh stuff to take advantage of that heightened tenderness and sweetness, not to mention the price savings that come when fruit is available en masse. So while you can make this sauce year-round with frozen peaches, in the summer months, try it with fresh.
The peaches do need to be peeled though, which can be done easily by first scoring a "X" into the bottom of the fruit with a pairing knife. Then place the peaches into boiling water for about 20 seconds. Next transfer them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking, and then the skin should peel right off starting where you made the cuts in the bottom.
Once I had my peaches peeled, cored, and roughly chopped, I went on to building the sauce. This started with a sautéing half of a sweet onion—sweet peaches seemed like they needed sweet onion—until softened and browned around the edges.
Then I added in most of the barbecue sauce usuals—ketchup, vinegar, honey, molasses, mustard, and Worcestershire. This provided the tangy and robust flavor I wanted, but I scaled back the ketchup a lot so that peach would be the dominant flavor instead of tomato. To that I added another Southern classic—bourbon—along with habanero hot sauce for heat that would continue to accentuate the fruitiness of the sauce overall.
After letting the sauce simmer for twenty minutes—in which time it thickened up and the peaches totally softened—I went town on it with an immersion blender. I wanted to smooth out the sauce, breaking down all the peaches and onion to incorporate them fully and seamlessly with the rest of the liquid ingredients.
The final sauce was tart, sweet, a little boozy, and most importantly, peachy! It had the layers of flavors you'd expect a good barbecue sauce to have, but with a fruity peach flavor that carried everything else from start to finish. It was great on its own, but I needed some pork to try it out on, so I brought my bottle to my buddy Tyson's Hog Days of Summer event last year.
I was a little worried of masking the flavor of that whole hog that was so painstakingly prepped, smoked, and chopped, but it ended up being a fantastic compliment. The sauce was a great match for the juicy pork that had a delicate smokiness, even if the meat really didn't need any sauce to begin with. It further brought out the feeling of summer in that pork and the event on the whole, which is what a good fruit should do, in my opinion.
Peach-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
- Prep Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 35 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 45 Minutes
- 3 cups
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion (about 1/2 large)
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped peeled fresh peaches (about 1 pound of whole peaches)
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon habanero hot sauce, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add peaches, ketchup, bourbon, brown sugar, vinegar, honey, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire, and hot sauce and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until peaches have softened and sauce has slightly thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Puree sauce with an immersion blender, or transfer sauce to the jar of a regular blender, and process until smooth. Season with salt and additional hot sauce to taste. Let cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar and store in refrigerator for up to a month.