While I try shop leisurely and responsibly at our farmer's markets, most of the time it doesn't happen. I'm constantly blown away by fascinating and unfamiliar stuff. Introduce me to something special and all bets are off. Reason flies out the window. Grab, go, and think about it later. It happens a lot.
So, how do you make an unlikely mishmash of market fruits and
vegetables play nice together? Stick them.
Makers Mark Bourbon Peach Barbecue Sauce.
I'm certainly not a pit master or a barbecue guru, but I do prefer scratch made sauces over most commercial varieties. Fire. Coals. Barbecue. After teaching the Culinary Arts Bourbon Cooking School at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival for a couple of years, I knew I could play with bourbon and fire.
After cutting the tough outer portions of the fennel bulb from the root end, I trimmed away the fronds (reserved), quartered the bulb, removed the core, and dropped the quarters into salted simmering water with 4 halved purple candy onions. While they softened for the grill, I sliced the chicken breasts into 1 1/2" pieces and sliced the remaining peaches into small wedges.
With everything on deck, I poked and prodded everything onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers in alternating layers: chicken, zucchini, fennel quarters, halved onions, peaches, and tomatoes.
When the raging fire mellowed, I seasoned the skewers and slapped them onto the sizzling hot grill. After allowing them to sear for a few minutes on each side, I basted the skewers with the bourbon barbecue sauce and let them cook until the chicken juices ran clear, about 15 minutes. When the chicken developed a slight char, I pulled the skewers from the grill and nestled them over the reserved feathery fennel fronds. Anchored by individual baby potato gratins, I finished with skewered raw zucchini ribbons and a scattering of split cherry tomatoes.
With smoky vanilla undertones, the Makers Mark peach-infused barbecue sauce sealed the chicken with caramelized sweet zing. While the collapsed tomatoes and melted peaches packed a fruity punch, the fennel quarters balanced their charred sweetness with a savory anise-flavored crunch. Unadorned, naked, and raw, the fresh zucchini rolls and tomatoes provided clean contrasting textures to the sticky meat, fruits, and vegetables. No forks needed.