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Blackberry-Sage Grilling/Barbecue Sauce

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 September 2018 at 11:59
Blackberry-Sage Grilling/Barbecue Sauce

A few years ago, my youngest son, Roger, took a trip to the Oregon coast with my mother, sister and niece. When he came home, he brought me a jar of sauce from an establishment called Pig Feathers, which was located in Toledo, Oregon. It was a blueberry-sage sauce, meant for grilling or barbecue, and was pretty good. I wrote a little about it here, if you'd like to know more:

http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/mothers-day-ribs-are-on-the-mes_topic4630.html



Recently, Roger, The Beautiful Mrs. Tas and I went on a trip through much of the same area; Roger wanted to stop in at Pig Feathers again, but for varying reasons (including one we didn't know at the time), we weren't able to do so. I did, however, promise to order another jar of the sauce that we both enjoyed so much once we returned home.

However, that task proved to be a bridge too far; since Roger's visit, Pig Feathers has closed its place in Toledo, and now appears to do some catering work in Reno, Nevada. Along with that, their blueberry-sage sauce is no longer available, and after a conversation with the proprietor, it doesn't look like it will be back in production anytime soon. Desperate, I asked him if he might be inclined to give me some direction on re-creating this sauce, as it was a family favourite. To my delight and surprise, he was happy to share the ingredients:

Blueberry preserves
Soy sauce
"More sage than you think you will need"
Cayenne pepper

Looking at the list, I thought to myself, That's it? Well heck, I can probably figure something out....

So began my journey.

Last week, I decided to give this a shot, and assembled my components. One obstacle was that no grocery in the area had blueberry preserves on hand at the time, so I opted instead for blackberry, a reminder of the great time that we had picking blackberries alongside the road when we were in Washington and Oregon so recently. For the soy sauce, I chose the low-sodium variety of Aloha brand Hawaiian soy sauce, another souvenir from our voyage to the Pacific Northwest:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Aloha-Shoyu-Lower-Salt-Soy-Sauce-24-OZ/381423975

(Note - please click on these links in order to check out these products; doing so helps this forum pay for itself! ( )

(Another note: at the time of this writing, the price shown on that link (15.99$) cannot be correct; we paid a quarter of that for the same bottle that we purchased in Washington state. I have notified the company and asked them to look into this and correct it.)

Instead of getting rubbed sage at the grocery store, I opted for some fresh sage from my herb garden. Keeping in mind that I would apparently need quite a bit, I picked all of the sage I had, which wasn't much; no worries, we are on the cusp of our first frost any day now, so it was time to pick it anyway. I did have some left over, which is currently drying and waiting to be used in some future project.



Finally, in deference to The Beautiful Mrs. Tas, I abandoned the cayenne pepper in favour of chili powder, which in my thinking would provide a bit of nice depth in any case due to the cumin and other spices that were in it.

The jar of blackberry preserves was 18 ounces, so I based everything that I did on that. With a narrow rubber spatula, I transferred the preserves to a quart-sized mason jar, then considered the amount of soy sauce to add. I knew from my experience with the Pig Feathers sauce that it is intended to be on the thin side, so I added soy sauce by the tablespoon, stirring each addition in until the sauce reached the consistency that I remembered. This took a total of 6 tablespoons of sauce, and I am confident in that amount. Noteworthy is that my use of low-sodium soy sauce kept the mixture less salty than the original at the same consistency; this is a good thing, because my single criticism of the original sauce was that it seemed a bit too salty.

Next, I chopped up all the sage that I had:



After that, I began adding it by the tablespoon until the sauce tasted about the way that I remembered the original to be. Keeping in mind that I was instructed to use "more than I think I would need," I did my best not to be shy with this, and tried to embrace a bold attitude about it, which is somewhat against my nature when entering uncharted waters. By the time I reached 6 tablespoons, I was happy to discover that it seemed very close to just about right to me, compared to my recollection of the original; I figured that the flavor would intensify a little after sitting over-night, so I left it at that.

For the chili powder (which was substituting for the cayenne), I added 1 tablespoon, period. The beautiful Mrs. Tas is very sensitive to heat from peppers, but seems to be able to do okay with chili powder; even so, I wanted to keep it modest, for her sake.

I gave everything a good, final stirring in order to be sure that I had incorporated the ingredients thoroughly, then gave it a final taste; to my surprise, it tasted great! The sweetness and slight tartness of the blackberries was absolutely wonderful with the bright, fresh sage, and the chili powder gave it an earthy balance that added a true layer of sophistication, in my opinion. Even more, the sauce looked pretty good, to boot:



Before calling it good, I considered everything one more time. From everything I could perceive, the sauce that I made was very close in appearance and consistency to the original that I was trying to emulate; it also tasted very close to what I remembered, with the obvious exception of the blackberry substitution. The soy sauce was right on point, giving a savory balance to the sweet, along with the correct consistency. The amount of sage seemed very close to correct; prominent, but not overpowering. The chili powder seemed right - to me - a nice, warm zing with a bit of earthy depth, as I predicted; however, I was concerned that it might be a bit much for The Beautiful Mrs. Tas, and made a mental note to get her thoughts on that.

In any case, it's what I had made, so it was what I had, and I really liked it. I could easily see it with just about any meat, including beef, poultry, pork, many varieties of fish and especially venison. I stuck it in the refrigerator so that the flavours could meld over-night, and pondered what I could use it on as a test project.

On Sunday, we were slated to barbecue some country-style ribs; this would have been a good test for the sauce, except my son - who was helping me expressed a desire to go with a Caribbean/Yucatan theme. So, we employed some naranja agria and achiote paste, and had a really nice barbecue that would have been quite welcome on several islands and a prominent Meso-American peninsula.

Last evening, we roasted a locally-grown pork loin in my enameled cast iron Dutch oven, and I decided then and there to give my sauce a try with it. We seasoned the roast very simply; some salt and pepper, a chopped onion, some garlic...and a few shakes of this "Bohemian Forest" spice mix, from Savory Spice:



https://www.savoryspiceshop.com/spice-blends/european-dry-rub-seasoning.html

(Note - please click on these links in order to check out these products; doing so helps this forum pay for itself! ( )

Savory Spice describes this seasoning blend:

Quote With this...salt-free [blend], the scent that permeates the kitchen is worth it alone, but the flavor matches it in every way.... Use 1 to 2 teaspoons per pound of meat, but a little extra won’t hurt.


The spice blend, according to Savory Spice, contains crushed brown mustard seed, garlic, rosemary, black pepper, Mediterranean thyme, savory, parsley, lavender and sage. I could almost certainly make it myself, but it was included as a free sample on a recent order, so there was no need to. I like it quite a bit, and it was a nice way to season the pork loin; I am guessing it that would be really nice on poultry, as well.

Anyway, once the pork loin was roasted and had rested, we sliced it and served it with a light drizzle of the sauce. I told everyone that I wanted to hear any feedback, good or bad.

Success! Well, mostly....

Everyone really liked the basic idea, and felt that the sauce was great with the pork. My older son said he wouldn't change a thing, while Roger said he would back off on the sage, just a bit. The Beautiful Mrs. Tas agreed with Roger about the sage; surprisingly, though, she thought that the amount of chili powder was just fine.

For myself, I liked it just the way it was; but I figured that I might be letting some personal bias into my thoughts, so I weighed the suggestions carefully. Based on those, here is my final "recipe" for the sauce, with the caveat that the sage and chili powder can be tweaked according to taste:

1 18-ounce jar of blackberry preserves (reduced sugar might be good, but is not necessary)
6 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
5 tablespoons of finely-chopped, fresh sage (try 2.5 tablespoons if dry or rubbed sage)
1 tablespoon of chili powder

That's it - I would recommend not messing with it beyond that, other than playing with the sage and chili powder as described above.

This project was a bit out of my comfort zone; I was given ingredients, but no amounts. I was willfully substituting one ingredient, and was forced by necessity to substitute another. On top of it all, I was playing with very unfamiliar flavor profiles and combinations. I did the best I could, based on memory and what seemed to make sense, and came up with something very, very good that I would not hesitate to serve to my guests or anyone else. All-in-all, I am very happy with this, and I think that you would be very happy with it as well, if you try it.

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2018 at 19:59
Sounds delicious Ron!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 September 2018 at 08:58
Way to go, Ron!  

Boy, oh, boy. Can I see that with duck!
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 September 2018 at 14:29
Hi, guys, and thanks for the feedback on this. It really is a good sauce and - in my opinion - is also very versatile.

I might experiment with some ponzu, which I believe is even lower in sodium than low-sodium soy sauce; it also has the added benefit of adding some citrus, which might bring the balance even more into focus.

If I do give this a try, I'll report back here on the forum as to the results.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 September 2018 at 10:22
i definitely would prepare chicken or porc ribs in oven with this .. & Roast Duckling would be amazing too  ..   

Love the flavor profile as I am a big Berry fan ..

2 POSTS ABOVE:  You wrote BlackBerry preserves - no sugar added.

I believe you meant BLUEBERRY PRESERVES NOT BLACK BERRIES ..  

And your photo is BlackBerry preserves ..

So original is blueberry  ?   I LOVE BLACKBERRIES ..  

BLUE BERRIES ARE AN ODDITY HERE AND EXPENSIVE .. 

Thanks for récipe  !!!! 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 September 2018 at 22:02
Margi, read his introductory comments a little closer. Ron talks about the original being blueberry preserves. But, because none were available to him, he substituted blackberry.

Personally, given the flavor profile, I think blackberries a better choice. Especially if it's going to be used with duck. Or pork products.  

Others may think differently. 
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 October 2018 at 12:56
Hi, Margi -

Yes, the original sauce that my son had brought home used blueberry. I had originally intended to try making this sauce with preserved blueberries, but none were available. I chose blackberries as a substitute, reminiscent of our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest, and found them to be an outstanding choice - possibly, as Brook suggests, better than the original.
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