- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Although the peach season doesn’t peak until midsummer, most supermarkets are beginning to stock the soft summer fruit now. Seeing a stack of peaches in the produce counter is too tempting to resist.

Admittedly, many spring peaches don’t have the alluring perfume or the complex fruit nectar flavor of the later crops, but anyone who has gone through winter deprived of soft, perishable fruit isn’t likely to quibble.

Besides, if early season peaches aren’t ready for prime-time eating, they’re excellent in cooked entrees in which you’re trying to create a sweet and savory combination.

I recommend adding peaches to a pork main course. The fruit’s delicate taste contrasts with pork’s robust flavor.

As the peaches cook down, the fruit forms to a thick and piquant sauce that’s marvelous with pork chops.

Before you start to cook, make sure your peaches are up to the task. Take a bite. If you’re not wiping the juices from your chin, don’t use the fruit and substitute frozen, sliced peaches instead.

The following skillet dinner of pork and peaches is enhanced with chilies, peach jam and vinegar. The mixture is such a delightful blend of hot, sweet and tangy tastes, why wait until summer to taste it?

Accompany the pork with a more traditional spring dish of roast asparagus.

Choose firm, plump spears for hot oven roasting. Oven roasting takes no longer than steaming and results in asparagus that is succulent and rich tasting.

Pork chops with peaches

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 jalapeno or other hot chili, cored, seeded and minced

1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

4 boneless pork chops, -inch thick

cup chicken broth

cup peach jam

1 ripe peach, pitted and sliced or 1 cup frozen, sliced peaches, thawed

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Add chili and onion and saute over medium heat 5 minutes. Push vegetables to the side and add pork chops. Brown 2 minutes per side.

Remove pork chops and set aside. Add chicken broth to skillet and scrape up any browned bits. Add peach jam, sliced peach, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Return pork to skillet. Baste with peach mixture and simmer 5 minutes.

Makes 2 servings.

Roast asparagus

1 pound asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

cup sourdough bread crumbs

teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

Snap tough ends off asparagus. Place asparagus on a cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast in 450-degree oven for 10 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a skillet.

Add garlic, bread crumbs, salt and a dash of pepper. Brown over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove asparagus from the oven and sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Makes 2 servings.

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