Chef Jonathan Krell said he had no idea how good Oklahoma peaches are until he moved here. The Pennsylvania native, like so many other transplanted locals, discovered Stratford and Porter peaches from a friend or family member after moving to OKC. As part of the conversation, he explains to a customer who recently moved from Washington, D.C., “They are smaller than Georgia peaches, but they have better flavor.”
Krell is not alone in his assessment. Jason Campbell, the former executive chef at Mary Eddy’s Kitchen who’s now back in his home state of Florida, used to sermonize at length about how delicious Oklahoma peaches are. At the risk of preaching to the choir: The peaches in Oklahoma are as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world, depending on our weather.
Although the last two crops haven’t been great for Stratford and Porter, the two Oklahoma towns best known for producing peaches, we dare to be hopeful, so we asked four local experts to come up with recipes that highlight one of our state’s most underappreciated products and demonstrate their versatility. Full recipes are available online.
Jonathan Krell, executive chef at Patrono
Krell offers the spicy coppa ham and peach salad as a feature at Patrono during the summer. In addition to being beautiful, it’s easy to replicate and can manage a variety of dressings or oils. At Patrono, it’s made with shaved coppa ham, sliced fresh peaches, arugula, pickled onions and radishes, and finished with a vanilla-white balsamic vinaigrette.
“The spicy ham and peaches are perfect contrasts, and it’s light enough that it makes a great summer salad,” Krell says.
Chris McKenna, chef-partner at Taqueria El Camino
McKenna opted for a braised pork belly and pickled peach salsa taco. The protein is really secondary, as he demonstrated by also making a lengua (beef tongue) version, but pork is good with peaches in any construction. McKenna included a red pepper puree, fresh diced avocado and shredded greens to round out his taco.
“If you’re going to do tongue, it needs to cook for a long time,” McKenna says. “I sous vide this one for 72 hours.” It’s probably best to wait for him to offer it as a special, and make yours with pork.
Jimmy Mays, chef-partner in Cafe 7 and The Hamilton
Mays has two small children at home, and toast is always perfect for kids. He uses a thick slice of good sourdough, homemade whipped ricotta and fresh peaches shaved thin (carpaccio style), then tops it with fresh jalapenos, a drizzle of local honey and a pinch of smoked Maldon salt.
Lori Burson, owner of Stella Modern Italian
Finally, the peach and prosciutto pizza has rotated on and off Stella’s menu for years, and it’s definitely one of the primo summer favorites. Because owner Lori Burson does her pizzas Roma style, they translate well to flatbreads that are easier to make at home. The Stella version has fresh roasted peaches, arugula, shaved prosciutto and a balsamic drizzle. Sauce isn’t even necessary, but EVOO or herbed oil would both be solid choices for a flatbread.