Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

blueberry barbecue sauce thirsty radish

Of all the destinations on the Eastern Seaboard, the rugged shores of Maine have a particular allure. Rocky beaches, lobster in the rough, and the heavy scent of nearby forest meant vacation to me, while most of my childhood friends traveled south. My father and I climbed the jagged rocks by day, and the sunburned shoulders I had earned were covered by night, when there was a chill to the salty air.

With the abundance of wild blueberries, breakfasts were sure to include pancakes dotted with them and syrups made from bursting the tiny fruits. Since cultivated blueberries are more widely available, I rely on them at home to make pancakes, pies, and barbecue sauce, but the flavor still reminds me of Maine summers. Make this recipe when you are in the mood for vinegar-rich flavor in the style of Carolina barbecue. I consider it an incredible way to celebrate flavors from along the East Coast.


2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle (from chipotles in adobo)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Short Ribs with Blueberry Barbecue SauceBegin by rinsing the blueberries and setting them aside. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat and add the onions. Caramelize, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary, so that they turn a deep golden color. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or until it becomes fragrant. Next add the chipotle and brown sugar and stir to combine. Raise the heat, add the cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and mustard. Bring to a simmer, add the blueberries, and cook for 30 minutes, until the berries burst and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. The vinegar will mellow as it cools.

With the addition of blueberries and chipotle, a vinegar-rich sauce becomes slightly sweet and smoky. Use it with grilled and barbecued meats, chicken, and fish with a high fat content such as salmon. For indoor cooking, consider braising pork or short ribs low and slow in the oven and finishing them with blueberry barbecue sauce.

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