Smokey Blackberry Barbecue Sauce

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue SauceVery Berry BBQ
I have a reservation this weekend to go berry picking—and I am very excited. There is a chance that the berries: a.) won’t be ripe or b.) might be all gone by the time I get there.
I’m keeping a positive attitude while crossing my fingers.

U-pick is one of my favorite things about this time of year. It starts with berries and cherries and moves into peaches and nectarines. I look forward to this every year starting January first. Since I didn’t get to go last year for obvious reasons, the anticipation has been killin’ me. But, I know this time it will be that much sweeter. (See what I did there?)

The last u-pick haul I had was 10 pounds of blackberries. This sounds like a lot, but once you cook ‘em down for jam and make a pie, there’s not much left over. If the stars align, I am planning to get at least that much again and maybe a bit more. Because I really want to make this sauce for Memorial Day.

I love the combination of sweet fruits and pork and there is no better showcase than pork ribs. My Cherry Cola Ribs are a family favorite. And, they are a perfect example of what I am talking about. Juicy tender ribs covered in a spicy sweet glaze. It just doesn’t get much better. (Unless there’s cake or pie…all bets are off at that point!)

I have tried other rib sauces and glazes that had raspberry or blackberry in them and I have always loved the combination. So, I am going to set aside some of this weekends blackberry harvest and cook up some of this spicy berry awesomeness.

Smokey Blackberry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Yields enough sauce for about 4 pounds of pork spare ribs plus extra
Adapted from Food & Wine

We are using this sauce on pork spareribs, and it is also delicious on grilled pork, baby back ribs, and chicken. The smoky flavor comes from the grilled berries and also the chipotle chiles packed in adobo.

1 pound fresh blackberries
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons seeded and minced chipotles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano

Grill the blackberries
Light the grill. In a large bowl, toss the blackberries with the smoked paprika. Spread the berries in a perforated grill pan or in a foil pan with holes poked in it. Grill over moderately-high heat. Toss the berries until the just begin to burst (about 3 to 5 minutes).

Cook the sauce
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add the garlic and turn down the heat to low. Cook, stirring until the garlic is golden brown.

Turn up the heat to medium-low and add the chopped onion and cook, stirring continuously, just until they begin to brown (about 7 minutes).

Stir in the tomato paste and cook until glossy (about 2 minutes). Add the blackberries, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, chipotles, dijon mustard, and cumin.

Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn down the heat so that it simmers. Continue cooking the sauce, stirring frequently, until it is slightly thickened and the berries are very tender (about 20 minutes).

Puree the sauce
Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool slightly. Transfer it to the canister of a blender when it is cool enough to handle. Puree until smooth.

Strain the sauce
Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids.

Season the sauce
Sample the sauce and season it with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sauce to cool completely.

Add the onion
Spoon 1 cup of the sauce into a bowl and stir in the minced onion, olive oil and the 2 tablespoons of oregano. Reserve the remaining sauce for a future BBQ!

To grill the pork spareribs
Light the grill again and oil the grate.

Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brush them with the blackberry sauce.

Place the ribs on a grill over high heat, turning once, until nicely charred (about 3 minutes). Continue to grill for 2 minutes more, turning and basting with more sauce, until glazed.

The ribs can be garnished with sliced radishes and chopped oregano.

Serve hot.


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