At the end of August when they’re at their sweetest, roasted South Carolina peaches outsell everything else on Charleston chef Kevin Johnson’s menu at the Grocery, the seasonal produce-forward restaurant he opened with his wife, Susan, in 2011. Johnson, who was born in Kentucky and honed his skills at the world-renowned Inn at Little Washington in Virginia, has put a version of this dish on the Grocery’s menu every summer, making tweaks along the way. “What’s fun about it,” he says, “is that you really are exploring all of the flavors that you can experience on one plate with salty, sweet, bitter, and creaminess.”
The peaches are roasted in the Grocery’s wood-burning oven, caramelizing the outsides and making the insides extra juicy. (For home cooks, Johnson recommends a quick blast on a hot grill pan.) Building on the classic sweet-and-savory combination of fruit and pork, he pairs them with spicy Louisiana-style Tasso ham, a smoked cut of shoulder seasoned with cayenne, cloves, garlic, and peppercorn. Then, he tops off the dish with mild shishito peppers, goat cheese, and a savory granola made of ground pecans, oats, and benne seeds.
“Later in the season as the days get hotter, the peaches tend to be a little juicier and sweeter,” Johnson says. “Better hurry though, peach season is waning.”