Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Cherry Barbecue Sauce in a heart-shaped bowl with ribs on brown paper

Rack Em Up
It is officially barbecue season. This means it’s time to talk all things smokey and saucy. I have been in smoker mode lately—mostly because I am still trying to get the hang of my electric smoker.

Don’t come at me for the electric smoker. Yes, real BBQ masters always go with live fire and wood. Truth be told, I like smoked meats, but I wouldn’t say it’s a passion. I’m not getting up at 3 AM to fire up the wood smoker. I’ll leave that to the folks who know what they are doing and enjoy that process. I am happy to hand my money over to them for some juicy brisket anytime.

With the electric smoker, I can smoke some ribs or chicken relatively quickly when I have a hankering. I’ve even smoked some chicken on a Wednesday night after work…and it was glorious. Best part is, when I’m not using it, the smoker is stored out of the way ready to pull out for the next use. Win-win.

Why am I bringing this up you might ask? Because while the smoked meats are the main attraction, I want to talk about the sauce…

I have never met a rib I didn’t like. I like baby backs. I like spareribs. Whatever rack you have cooking I will eat. I will say though that I am a sauce-after-cooking kind of gal. Meaning, I like to put a dry rub on a rack of ribs, cook ‘em, slice them up, and let the person eating the ribs slather on their sauce of choice. That doesn’t mean I won’t eat them the other way. It’s just a preference that does necessitate having a good sauce.

My hands-down favorite sauce for ribs is this one for Cherry Cola Ribs  Cherry and pork go very well together be it ribs or a roasted pork loin. Now that it is BBQ season and fresh cherries are in the market, I’ve been thinking about using fresh cherries in a BBQ sauce. I found this one which uses balsamic vinegar for a little bit of pucker and sweetness.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Adapted from The Recipe Rebel
Yields about 30 servings

This recipe makes quite a bit, but the good news is you can throw this Cherry Barbecue Sauce in the freezer and enjoy the taste of cherries long after the season is over. And, if you want to make it out-of-season, you can always use high-quality frozen cherries.

2 cups fresh or frozen sweet pitted cherries
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch red chili flakes (1/4 tsp if you like it spicy)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Simmer the cherries
In a medium pot, combine the pitted cherries, 2/3 cup water, brown sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until cherries are soft and mixture is slightly reduced.

Puree the sauce
With an immersion blender (or in a food processor or a regular blender if you have one that handles hot liquids) puree the cherries in the pot.

Strain the sauce
Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the remaining skins.

Thicken the sauce
Return the sauce to the pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch. Whisk into the sauce gradually, thickening until the desired consistency is reached.

Cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.

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