Peach Fry Bread with Bourbon Bacon Jam, Ricotta, and Basil

North Carolina chef Ashleigh Fleming celebrates peach season with this sweet-and-savory brunch treat

Photo: Courtesy of Blue Jay Bistro

In those early days of the pandemic, chef Ashleigh Fleming was just trying to keep it all together. “I was running a taco and tamale place out of my own house,” she says. “I wanted to get out of the industry.” But when she drove seventy miles north to Littleton, North Carolina, to interview for an operations position at Blue Jay Bistro, she unexpectedly fell in love with the place—and its culinary team. “It was a shot in the dark,” Fleming says. But one that happily placed her at the helm of the kitchen.

Unlike the buzzing urban Triangle where Fleming had lived, Littleton offered a peaceful green countryside flush with farms. The rolling fields brought in heaps of produce to play with in the kitchen, including crates of ripe summer peaches. She soon took the sweet fruit and added her own “Texas twist,” she says. “Texas loves to cross sweet and savory. It’s like a religion.”

Fleming thought back to her childhood in Houston with her grandmother, whose love for fresh fruits and veggies inspires her work at Blue Jay Bistro today. “I think we were the only kids running around Houston eating raw sugarcane, the same way she grew up. A lot of our food at Blue Jay Bistro has threads to her.” When it came to brainstorming what savory spin to add to the peaches, Fleming remembered a Texas treat she enjoyed eating with her grandmother: the puffy taco. But as she researched and learned more about the recipe, Fleming found it had a painful history. It tied back to Indigenous American fry bread, a food made from U.S. government rations of flour, sugar, and lard, given to Indigenous communities after they were forced off their native land. “For me, the puffy taco was from my childhood, but studying the history and culture around it offered a reevaluation of the dish.” Calling it a puffy taco on the menu, Fleming says, felt like stretching it away from its history.

The crispy, puffed dough turned out to be the perfect vessel to hold sweet North Carolina peaches alongside a savory companion. At Blue Jay Bistro, Fleming tops the peaches with a savory bacon jam and ricotta. “There’s a lot of wood and smokiness from bacon that goes with the subtle hints of sweetness from the peach, giving it some weight.”

To make the recipe at home, Flemings likens preparing the fry bread dough to making biscuits or pie. “It’s important not to overwork it, or it won’t be airy,” she says. The bread takes on a golden brown color and crisps up like a flour tortilla for a deliciously balanced brunch bite to kick off peach season in the South.


  • Peach Fry Bread, Bourbon Bacon Peach Jam, Ricotta, and Basil (Yield: 20 small fry breads)

    • ½ cup peach puree (about 2 peaches)

    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour

    • 1½ cups sugar

    • 2 tbsp. baking powder

    • ½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ cup lard or vegetable oil

    • Bourbon bacon peach jam (recipe follows)

    • Basil, to garnish

  • Bourbon Bacon Peach Jam

    • Applewood smoked bacon

    • 1 cup red onion, diced

    • 1 tbsp. Habanero, seeded and minced

    • 4 peaches, peeled and diced

    • 1 cup brown sugar

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

    • 1 tsp. ground cumin

    • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

    • 3 tbsp. bourbon or whiskey

    • 4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar


  1. For the peach puree: Briefly blend two peaches with 1 tablespoon of water.

  2. For the fry bread: Place 2 cups of flour and all other dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir or sift to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in peach puree.

  3. Work gently to combine peach puree and flour mixture to create dough. Continue to mix by hand until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add flour as needed until the dough is firm, not sticky.

  4. Dust your work surface with remaining flour. Pinch off a piece of dough and gently pat into a 4” circle about ¼” in thickness. Continue the process until all cakes are formed. Gently lay a towel over the bread to keep it from drying out.

  5. In a large cast iron or frying pan, heat oil or lard over medium heat until shimmering. Gently place rounds in hot oil and cook on one side until bread begins to puff, about 1–2 minutes. Gently flip and cook the other side until puffed and golden brown.

  6. Drain fry bread on paper towels as you remove them from the oil and set aside while you work to fry the remaining fry bread pieces.

  7. For the bourbon bacon peach jam: Cook bacon over medium heat in a large saucepan to render fat. Stir occasionally to keep from burning. Cook until just shy of crispy, about 4–5 minutes. Pour bacon into a sieve and retain fat and drippings.

  8. Add 2 tablespoons of bacon fat back into the pan and place the pan back on medium heat. Add onions to pan until aromatic and translucent, stirring occasionally taking care to not burn. Add habanero and combine well with onion. Add peaches and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.

  9. Add spices and liquids to the pan. Cook over low medium heat, stirring occasionally. Jam should have a lazy bubble and begin to reduce.

  10. Cook for about 15–20 minutes or until mixture begins to take on a syrup consistency, take care to not burn the liquid. Remove from heat and cool.

  11. Tip: Store leftover jam in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

  12. To assemble: Swipe 1 tablespoon of ricotta on each plate. Place warm fry bread rounds on the ricotta. Top fry bread with warm jam and 1 more tablespoon of ricotta. Sprinkle chiffonade or micro basil on top.