Taking fruit beyond sweet: Pickle it, smoke it, serve it with meat

Dessert isn’t the only place fruit could be making an appearance on your menu. Savory applications can be a delight.

For fruit lovers, there’s really nothing quite like a Seattle farmers market in the summer. Stall after stall overflows with pyramids of peaches, bins full of cherries, paper cartons of berries and tables stacked with fragrant melons. It can seem tough just to make it home from the market before devouring every last berry.

Good things, of course, come to those who wait, in the form of cobblers, pies, jam or even sliced atop a bowl of ice cream — but dessert isn’t the only place fruit could be making an appearance on your table.

One look at restaurant menus around the city and you’ll see summer bounty being used in savory applications. There’s the whole fish, which arrives at your table looking like it’s swimming toward you with a waterfall of Rainier cherries tumbling over the tail at Tankard and Tun. Copal dresses up brisket with a hefty wedge of smoked, grilled pineapple, and Jack’s BBQ tops everything from pancakes to cocktails with smoked peaches and oranges.

For chef Mark Schroder, owner of Greenwood’s Opus Co., pairing fruit with smoke, pickling spices and meat was a no-brainer. Nearly everything at his pocket-size spot is cooked over a wood-fired grill. “Fruit and meat have always been perfect partners for me, like lamb and apricots,” Schroder says.

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Add to that his goal of sourcing as much fresh produce as he can from local farmers (meaning he doesn’t use citrus anywhere in the restaurant), and the world of savory fruit opened for him.

“We used apples in our hot sauce, pickle and smoke cherries, use rhubarb as the base for a savory sauce, just everything,” he says. “I usually didn’t like that much fruit in cooking; I just ate it out of hand, but now I’m super into it.”

For anyone who loves a sweet/savory combination, consider adding fruit to a multitude of savory dishes. Baby steps include tossing strawberries or peaches into your salsa fresca before topping carnitas tacos, smooshing blackberries into Brie for your next grilled cheese sandwich, or wrapping paper-thin prosciutto around wedges of cantaloupe and drizzling with aged balsamic vinegar and a shower of chopped fresh basil.

Go a little farther down the savory-fruit rabbit hole by grilling peach halves and placing on them alongside…

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