“Fresh, fried, grilled or sipped,” said Lisa, “the peach is a summer staple in the Tar Heel State. With peach season peaking this month, if you haven’t picked up peaches now it the time.”
The peach is a member of the rose family and its roots can be traced to China. There are more varieties of peaches than any other fruit, except apples. In this episode Lisa visits Johnson’s Peaches in Candor. The Johnson family has been growing peaches since 1934. The farm has 10,000 peach trees on about 50 acres. The Johnson’s plant 50 different varieties of peaches, which helps extend the growing season from June 1 to the end of August.
The farm also features a store that sells peach preserves, ice cream, dumplings, salsa and more. After visiting the farm, Lisa stops by Carolina Crossroads Restaurant at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill to try of few recipes made with peaches. Below is Carolina Crossroads Executive Chef James Clark’s recipe for fried peach pie.
In a stand mixer set on medium speed, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar until mixture is smooth and there are no visible chunks of butter or cream cheese, about 5 minutes. Add flour and salt and mix until just combined. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half, shape into disks, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut 16 to 20 four-inch circles, gathering scraps and re-rolling as needed. Place circles on a baking pan and wrap with plastic wrap; chill for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Peel all the peaches, cut in half, remove pit and dice. In a hot saute pan add the butter and honey and then add in the peaches. Saute until peaches began to soften. Add Schnapps and cook out the alcohol. Remove from heat and allow to fully cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and a little water to make an egg wash. Place 1 heaping tablespoon peach mixture in center of a dough circle. Brush edges of dough with egg wash, fold dough over filling, and crimp edges with a fork. Repeat with remaining dough circles. Keep pies chilled until ready to fry. In a shallow bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon.
In a large, heavy-duty pot add oil enough to allow the pies to swim and heat to 350 degrees. Add 3 pies to hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, then coat with cinnamon-sugar. Repeat until all peach pies are fried. Drain fried pies on paper towels, then roll in cinnamon sugar and serve.