We tend to think of citrus - palm-sized clementines, sweet tangerines, piquant blood oranges - as winter's bounty. But too often we overlook the persimmon. Similar in size and hue to an orange, persimmons are honeyed and decadent, jammy with sugar when at their peak stage of ripeness. The ancient Greeks thought of them as the food of the gods,
and little wonder why.
I came up with this recipe when seeking a use for almost-but-not-quite-ripe persimmons (when fully ready, they redden, turn heavy with juice, and look almost bruised). I used hachiya persimmons, which are tall and heart-shaped, where fuyu persimmons are squatter and more tomato-like; hachiyas also happen to be astringently tannic when unripe. To guarantee their sweetness, I sliced the fruit thinly and fried it lightly in butter, until the former caramelised and the latter browned.
Though this dish feints towards warmer weather, with its caprese-esque pairing of basil and burrata, the brown-butter fried persimmon, Prosciutto and brown sugar-candied walnuts confirm its wintry origins. I love it for its ease, for its quick dose of February sun, and for the fact that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Just as this toast is an anytime dish, so Track's Sonoma Pale Ale is an anytime beer. At just 3.8% ABV, it's sessionable and refreshing, though its hop bill makes for an herbaceous, grassy complexity, with a bit of citrus on the nose. It's one guaranteed food-friendly beer, and pairs seamlessly here.
Persimmon, Prosciutto & Burrata Toast
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
50g unsalted butter, divided
30g light brown sugar
1 almost-ripe hachiya persimmon
1 small lobe of burrata
2 large slices good sourdough bread
4 slices Prosciutto di Parma
Basil, to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to garnish
First, make your candied walnuts. Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat and add the walnuts, 20g of butter, and the sugar all at once. Stir constantly with a spatula; the sugar and butter will soon melt. Cook for five minutes, stirring continuously, until the nuts have turned golden, the mixture has darkened,and it smells like toasty toffee. Take off the heat and pour the nuts onto a pan lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly in a single layer so they don't harden into big clumps. (Note: You'll likely have some leftover walnuts, which is a very good thing - they are an excellent snack.)
Next, use a paring knife to remove the top of the persimmon. Slice the fruit thinly, into roughly quarter-inch slices. Heat the remaining 30g of butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter has melted, add the persimmon slices in a single layer. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes per side. When finished, they should be softened, lightly caramelised, and the butter should have turned nut-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Slice two thick pieces of sourdough, and toast until golden. Top each piece with a generous glop of burrata, spreading it to the edges. Sprinkle the candied walnuts across both pieces, and top with the persimmon slices. Arrange the prosciutto around the fruit, and drizzle extra brown butter from the pan across both slices. Finish with a few bright basil leaves and a twist or two of black pepper.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of Track Sonoma in store or online. This Saturday 24 Feb, come meet the Track team in store from 2-4pm.