Peach and Pancetta Pizza
Peaches capture everything we love about late summer: its fleeting sweetness and brilliant gold. This pizza showcases the fruit’s complex flavour and meaty texture, along with two other seasonal stars – corn and chanterelle mushrooms.
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September 2nd, 2015 | Text: David Rollins Photography: Rob Lee
It’s been the summer of peaches. If you’ve picked up a food magazine anytime in the past three months, you’ve surely seen them all: the white ones, the flat ones, the clingstones and freestones, peaches in salads, salsas, cocktails… It was a stellar year for peaches here. Climate change has had its way with our peach crop in the past couple of years, producing fruit with mealy flesh and stingey flavour. We hadn’t had that iconic peach-juice-to-your-elbows experience for a really long time. But this year was a glorious peach year from Georgia to Niagara in the East, and we discovered a place along the West coast where perfect peaches are born. It’s called Peachland.
Peachland is an area of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, just north of a place called Summerland. It’s funny to see these names on a Google map, but it all makes perfect sense once you’re on the ground. The whole region is studded with roadside farm stands where you can wander back into an orchard and eat warm fruit right off the tree. Hard to imagine an experience more emblematic of nature’s ridiculous perfection.
Conversely, there are few things more disappointing than a bad peach. There are two main issues: like avocados, peaches can be under-ripe for days on end, and then suddenly turn to rotten mush. They have a narrow window of opportunity. Second, mealy-ness. (Yuck.) This is a function of temperature; peaches that travel long distances need to be refrigerated to prevent them from ‘peaking’ too soon. The temperature ups and downs they undergo in transport damage the structure of the fruit’s flesh, and well, you’ve tasted the result. Your best strategy against this is buying local.
Hard to imagine
an experience more
emblematic of nature’s
To judge the ripeness of a peach, consider the depth of its background yellowness rather than its alluring red cast. Redness was once a sign of ripeness, but peaches are now bred to be red even when unripe. Look also for a slight wrinkle in the skin around the stem. Like greying hair at the temples, it’s a sign of optimal maturity.
The Okanagan Valley is dotted with hundreds of wineries, and one of them (called Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, a stone’s throw from Peachland) makes an incredible pizza of peach, corn, pancetta, and chanterelle mushrooms. As soon as it landed on our table, we knew we would be making it at home, and sharing it on the blog. We’ve done the peach Caprese salad, the peach salsa, the Bellinis, and even the roasted peach salad with buttermilk and bacon. But this pizza was the dish that most perfectly captured for us the lush, meaty, sun-roasted character of the perfect late-summer peach.
Peach and Pancetta Pizza
Makes 1 pizza, enough for a single main course
- 130 g pizza dough
- 1 cup grated smoked Mozzarella
- one corn cob
- 5 slices of pancetta
- 1 peach
- a handful of chanterelles
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
NOTES: There are all kinds of pancetta. Taste what you’re buying, and try to find one that’s not too salty and on the ‘dry’ side – it will crisp up nicely in the oven. It’s important to slice the peach thinly.
- Preheat the oven to 450° F. Shuck the corn and slice the kernels off the cob. Slice the peach into 16 sections. Coarsely chop the chanterelles.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface, then scatter the grated cheese over its surface. Add 8 slices of peach, pancetta, chanterelles, and a handful of corn kernels. Season the pizza with salt and pepper, lightly drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling.