Monday, July 19, 2010

Peachy Keen Cobbler

In my vast (gulp) food TV-watching experience, I have found that two things spell certain doom for cheftestants:  lousy desserts and giving up on a dish that they know is screwed up.  As celebrity chef Tom Colicchio lectured one chef on a recent episode of "Top Chef" -  if something isn't working out, a good chef finds a way to make it work.  That was probably right before he told the guy to high-tail it out of the Bravo studios.

This rebuke occurred to me Saturday when, while chatting with the hubmeister and drinking cheap wine, I mistakenly dumped all the sugar into the filling of the bourbon peach cobbler instead of dividing it between the dry and wet ingredients as instructed in the recipe.  Thanks to that TV flashback, I didn't throw out the whole mess as I might have in the past.  After all, I had just spent several minutes standing at the sink peeling eight peaches with a paring knife and there was no way I was wasting that time and effort or the Maker's Mark I poured into that sugary peach mixture.

My remedy:  I didn't add the 1/2 cup of sugar that was to be mixed with the flour for the topping.  I figured the whole recipe would still have 3/4 cup of sugar, only in different places.  The top would be more biscuit-like and the filling would be super sweet but  balanced hopefully by the savory topping. 

That's what happened and the result was a mixture of gooey, peachy goodness topped with a golden "biscuity" crust.  The only taste that may have been affected was the bourbon.  The flavor didn't come through; maybe the sugar overwhelmed it.  Guess I'll have to make it again....mmmmm.

I hope you learn from my sugary mistake when you make this yummy Tyler Florence recipe, and next time you mess up a dish - whether it's because the kids are pestering you for homework help, the baby is crying, or you simply are enjoying the company of folks around you - resist the temptation to trash it.  Stop for a minute and consider how to fix it.  I bet you will. 

Bourbon Peach Cobbler
(Food Network Magazine, July/August 2010)

8 peaches
1/4 C bourbon
3/4 C sugar (divided!), plus more for sprinkling
2 T. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter
3/4 C heavy cream, plus more for brushing
1 quart vanilla bean ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine peaches, bourbon, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a large bowl and toss to coat.

Sift the flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Cut 1 1/2 sticks of butter into small pieces; add to the flour mixture and cut it in with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Pour in the cream and mix just until the dough comes together.  Don't overwork; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable.

Melt the remaining 1/2 stick butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the peach mixture and cook gently until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart baking dish (or leave in the skillet).  Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the warm peaches.  (There can be gaps because the dough will puff up and spread as it bakes.)  Brush the top with some heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar and a little extra cinnamon. 

Bake in the oven on a baking sheet (to catch any drips) until the cobbler is browned and the fruit is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream.

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