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Hill Country Peach Crisp with Orange-Pecan Topping

All summer long in Texas, you see peaches in cobblers, crisps, ice cream – you name it. Chef Ben Ford says that he loves the big, juicy peaches from the Texas Hill Country so much that he orders them by mail when he’s in Los Angeles. He developed this recipe to show them off.

Ingredients:

For the topping:

  • 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 20 Tbs. (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) rolled oats  
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped candied ginger
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 lb. (1.25 kg) ripe peaches (about 8 medium peaches)
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar, if needed
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

  • 2 quarts (2 l) vanilla ice cream

Directions:

To make the topping, in large bowl, combine the flour, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Add the butter and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the pieces are the size of peas. Add the sugar, oats, pecans, ginger and orange zest and use your fingertips to combine the ingredients until the topping is crumbly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it, for up to 2 days.

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

To make the filling, peel the peaches: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with water and ice. Cut an X through the skin at
 the top of each peach. Plunge the peaches into the boiling water for about 1 minute, until the skin begins to curl up at the X. Drain the peaches and plunge them into the ice bath. Starting at the X, peel the peaches and cut them into 1/2-inch (12-mm) wedges. Put the peaches in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, up to 2 Tbs. of granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of your peaches, you may not need it), the cornstarch and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the peaches and toss gently to coat. Pour the peaches and any juices in the bowl into a large baking dish. Scatter the topping over the fruit. Put the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any juice that may boil over. Bake the crisp until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Taming the Feast: Ben Ford’s Field Guide to Adventurous Cooking, by Ben Ford and Carolynn Carreño (Atria Books, 2014).