It was early one Saturday morning last summer, before the day heated up to its usual steamy 90s, when I first discovered The Peach Truck.
I was on my way to tend the garden behind my brother’s office. I barreled down 12 South, and had to immediately double-back. Parked in the lot of a one-time gas station turned designer jean shop was an old green pick up truck. A young man was working out of the back of the truck, filling and setting out brown paper sacks. A sandwich board sign placed on the sidewalk had been painted in bold letters: FRESH GEORGIA PEACHES.
Georgia Peaches? Really? The ones that I had come across over the years at our markets never lived up to their stellar reputation. Still, there had to be an element of truth in the assertion that the best peaches hail from GA. I had to check ‘em out.
I opened a bag and inhaled its aromatics. Sweet-scented, peachy and floral. I gingerly handled a couple–they had the right heft and supple give. Then, the young man, who introduced himself as Stephen Rose, cut a wedge out of one for me to sample.
Mercy. It was firm, yet gushed sweet juices. It might have been the best bite of peach I’d ever had. SOLD!
Chagrined by the lack of true Georgia peaches in Nashville, Stephen set out to change all that. He started trucking in the harvest from his aunt and uncle’s farm in Crawford Georgia. That Saturday morning, I was one of his first sales. It didn’t take long for word to get out. People all over the city, chefs from scores of restaurants, were all clamoring for the peaches brought by the man in the 1964 Jeep Gladiator. Over a five week run last summer, Nashvillians had purchased 10 tons of these remarkable fruits.
Summer is back, and so is The Peach Truck. This year, Stephen and his wife Jessica have made it their mission to spread the Georgia peach gospel. From now until the end of August, you can find these blushing beauties any day of the week in Nashville, at numerous locations.
I’ve made terrific peach salsa, not to mention peach cobbler. Mornings have been brightened with fresh slices over Greek yogurt and cereal. And, here’s this show-stopped recipe I made for our latest potluck supper: rosemary, sage, chives and The Peach Truck’s finest stuffed, rolled and roasted into pork loin.
Without question, all sorts of fruit make luscious partners for pork, (think apples, pears, pineapple…) their natural sweetness enhances the meat while tempering its inherent richness. Fresh herbs and juicy peaches transform a simple pork loin into an elegant, succulent roast that slices into pretty pinwheels.
The trickiest part is in butterflying the meat. Keep slicing horizontally down and into the round of meat, unrolling it as you continue your cuts. This does not need to be smooth. You can see where I started and stopped, with some gashes into the meat. No worries. It’s very forgiving, this recipe. You’ll be filling the interior of the meat, covering all this up.
After you’ve layered the interior with abundant chopped herbs (sage, rosemary, strips of chives) and red tinged slices of peach, you’ll be ready to roll it back to its somewhat original form, and secure it with twine.
I prepared two such roasts for our potluck crowd. Wonderful. It was a night for peaches and The Peach Truck. Someone brought a peach salad, another an almond-peach crisp. And Rick churned a batch of Peaches-and-Cream.
PEACHES-N-HERBS PORK ROULADE
3 lb. boneless pork loin
1 bundle fresh sage
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3-4 fresh ripe peaches, pitted and sliced Â¼â€ thick
coarse ground black pepper
kitchen twineâ€”cut into 4 14â€ pieces
Butterfly the pork loin: place clean, dried roast onto cutting board. With a sharp knife, begin slicing horizontally into the roast, about 1 inch from the bottom. As you continue slicing the length of the roast, pull back the meat, effectively unrolling it.
Press the meat flat. Liberally sprinkle the interior first with salt and black pepper, followed by chopped rosemary and sage. Arrange the peach slices to cover the
Roll the loin back into its original shape.
Slide the pieces of twine underneath the loin. Secure the roll by tying each one. Place in roasting pan, fat side up, seam side down. Sprinkle the top of the meat with kosher salt and black pepper.
Place roast into a preheated 425 degree oven. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees for another 25-30 minutes. When the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, remove from oven.
Allow the meat to rest 15 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, add water to roasting pan and deglaze the juices and cooked-on bits. Remove the twine and slice the roast into Â½â€ thick rounds. Arrange slices on a platter and pour deglazed juices over the meat.