This lip-smacking Blackberry Barbecue Sauce was served to my dinner guests for the 4th of July celebration this year. It is more versatile than a commercial blackberry barbecue sauce that commonly tend to be overwhelming with way too many ordinary components.
A cardinal rule for barbecue is that the star is the entree and the sauce is part of the supporting cast. What makes this blackberry barbecue sauce memorable for me is that it triggers a desire for a glass of white or red wines and acts as a catalyst between the flavors from the grill to the experience on the palate. This barbecue sauce is a sensation that should manifest when the magic is just right.
Celebrating the Red, White and Blue – Wine, Friendship and Barbecue:
Americans seem born to celebrate. The author of the Declaration of Independence was also our first celebrity host. During the nation’s infancy, Thomas Jefferson entertained guests from Paris and Madrid to New York and Boston at his Monticello dinner table beginning the tradition of the American wine dinner. Between dinner events and tending to his impressive wine cellar and vegetable garden, he took time to compose the now immortal statement of human rights that launched the American Revolution and directly led to the founding of the United States.
Wine, farm-fresh food, and friendship – A mighty powerful combination
Wine has evolved in this country as an extension of the farming and wine making traditions of Europe. Spain played a bigger part in the beginning of wine in this country than popularly believed. Franciscan monks and conquistadors brought in wines from Spain into America and stored them in their Florida cellars in St. Augustine and Mission San Luis (in today’s Tallahassee). The gifted writer Julie Bettinger is a descendant of Emile Du bois, a native of France who over a century ago, owned and managed a successful vineyard and winery on the grounds of Mission San Luis, garnering critical acclaim nationally for his vintages until, according to Ms. Bettinger, disease destroyed the vinifera grapes.
We are, of course, adaptable people and a disease-resistant hybrid white grape was developed by the University of Florida and Lakeridge Vineyards near Orlando. Named Blanc du Bois, honoring Emile’s domestic wine pioneering, wine from this grape is now produced in New York, Texas, Louisiana and many other states. I have enjoyed Blanc du Bois from Louisiana’s Ponchartrain Winery in French Quarter gourmet restaurants. Similar to a dry Alsatian, this is a wine for grilled seafood, particularly lime-marinated shrimp wrapped in smoked bacon, grilled to a gentle crust. Assuming a bottle of Blanc Du Bois will not be readily available, a crisp, clean, fruit forward West Coast-style Sauvignon Blanc serves as the perfect counter balance for the tangy, smoky and slightly spicy flavors.
This month is the unofficial launch of America’s barbecue celebration starting with the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Wine is now quintessentially part of the American lifestyle and if you dare pair the delights from your grill with a wine that serves as a hot weather refreshment, chances are very good that everything will be even more delicious.
Toasts are important. Before the summer feast, propose one as a salute to Mr. Jefferson and his enlightened, brave colleagues who long ago signed our sacred document. We begin our dinner as they created our country: daring and visionary. Each glass and every bite is a symbolic affirmation that we are truly here to enjoy life, liberty and happiness.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 sweet onion (Vidalia), chopped
- 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 pints blackberries, fresh
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sweat the onions and garlic.
Sweat: Sweating is the process of releasing flavors with moisture and low temperatures. Fat, in this case, is used just to hold the non-volatile flavors as they are released from the onion. No browning takes place. The pan is covered so the lid traps steam, which condenses and drips back on to the onions.
When onions and garlic are translucent, stir in the chipotle chile pepper and chili powder. When the chili powder just begins to release their aroma, stir and add the blackberries, molasses, honey, cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and water. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper and remove from stove.
NOTE: Blackberry Barbecue Sauce can be stored in air tight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Yields 3 cups sauce.
Doc Lawrence is a veteran food and wine journalist based in Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale. Doc Lawrence writes and lectures regularly about subjects in which he is a recognized and acknowledged expert – wine and food, theater, travel and cultural tourism, visual art and music.
Sources: Recipe by Chef Yann Chupin, a native of France, heads the gourmet kitchen at Linger Longer Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Lodge in bucolic Reynolds Plantation, a lovely resort on Georgia’s Lake Oconee.
Categories:Backyard Barbecue Beef Sauces Blackberries Chile Peppers Condiments - Sauces - Butters - Relishes - Jam and Jelly Recipes Fourth of July Pacific Northwest