Wild Berry BBQ Sauce.
Everything in life is better when it’s slathered. I think there’s just something so reassuring about your food covered in sauce that it just soothes you of an evening. I attribute this to the succour that a sauce would perhaps provide me on the plates of my youth. There is something typically juvenile about a sauce, isn’t there? I think we all have table top memories of absolutely soaking food in a condiment (mine was tomato ketchup and it had to be Heinz – kids CAN tell the difference) and stabbing everything with a fork and no knife.
I believe the comfort of this is something that truly stays with you throughout your life. We always lean towards the recreation of memories in order to salute our past but also take pride in our present, so the recreation of childhood memories or even attempting situations that mimic the motion is a natural default of humans. Even if this does come in glorifying a meal’s accompanying sauce, it still has a natural root into the celebration of youth.
The celebration in my case is a really full bodied and smoky twist on a slathery sauce that can be used in any occasion. I always like to make sauces in big batches and have them nestled in jars in my pantry, usually shoving them in my mother’s handbag when she visits. This sauce here has a really bitter tang that can enliven all meats however, the curved smokiness really does partner will with some breaded and fried chicken for days when cutlery seems like a waste of energy.
In a food processor, blitz a red onion and some garlic cloves into a shredded mess of cloudy pink mush. In a deep pan, melt some butter and add the mush and season liberally with salt. Stir this until the onions and garlic have softened and lost their tang. In the food processor, blitz up roughly 200g (or just a bowlful) of frozen berry mix until they have created a rough slush before adding this to the pan.
Now add a good dose of soft brown sugar and drop the heat a little, cooking for about 5-10 minutes until everything has begun to cook down slightly. Add a little pinch of mustard powder – don’t substitute jarred runny mustard, it’s not the same as well as a good sprinkle of smoky paprika. Now add your more liquid based ingredients. This includes a cup of red ketchup – yes, ketchup. Seems bizarre adding ketchup to a sauce recipe, but trust when I say this is what gives it the sweet but syrupy note.
Finally, add a lovely splash of apple cider vinegar (no one will throw tomatoes at you if you use white vinegar, though) followed by a quick shot of Worcestershire sauce. Give everything a quick turn with a spoon, bring to a boil, drop to a simmer, clamp a lid on and allow to bubble quietly on the stove top for about 45 minutes. Knock the heat off and allow to cool. When you’re ready, pour it back into the food processor for a final blitz to bring everything to that silky saucy consistency you desire – but I’m not going to lie, I do love a thick sauce to put in a burger so sometimes I don’t even bother with the final process.
SPECIAL NOTE: I was in Miami recently and managed to pick up a bottle of Liquid Smoke. This was perfect to add to this recipe in place of some paprika that really does give it that charcoal spikiness. I know that’s a very specific ingredient, hence why I suggest the easily found paprika instead, however if you are lucky enough to see some Liquid Smoke in a speciality store, do snatch some up because it does come in so handy!
So there you have it. A sauce you can lock away in cupboards and drawers to whip out when such a time calls for it. The last time I used this prior to writing this was for a friend who popped over. I fried up some rough cuts of steak I had left in butter, added this sauce to the pan so that everything came together and served the saucy steak between some slider buns. It was absolutely delicious – not exactly graceful – but if I can’t have a slider that doesn’t leave juices running down my forearm and a face full of sauce, then I don’t want one.