Here’s a secret . . . ready? Here goes: I look forward to the changing seasons mostly because of the food. Am I weird? (most likely) Food obsessed? (definitely) Anyone else out there like me? (Food obsessed weirdos unite!)
Seriously, though . . . summer?! Can we talk about summer for a minute? I know it is technically still spring, but school’s out, it’s past Memorial Day, and it. is. hot. out. there! So, I’m declaring it to be “summer.” Plus, some of my favorite things are happening- we’ve been grilling, dining outside a lot, the sun has been shining into the evening hours, and cherries have appeared at the store. Yes, I know! CHERRIES!!!
My favorite fruits are summer fruits. All kinds of berries and stone-fruits have a special place in my heart. Cherries are just one of those delights. I love them in everything…pies, ice cream, jam, and just plain by the handful. Cherries are also wonderful paired with savory food.
A few years ago, we had some friends over for dinner. I butterflied a whole chicken and grilled it long and slow, under a brick. (Future post, maybe?) I came up with a sauce using cherries, that had all the elements of a good barbecue sauce: spicy, sweet, tart, thick, and rich. This sauce was different, though, because I seasoned it with Chinese five-spice. The flavors from anise, clove, cinnamon, star anise, and ginger paired so well with the cherries, and with the smoky chicken. It was delicious, and has been one that I have made over and over since. This sauce is equally delicious on pork, turkey, or duck.
Here’s another secret . . . (wow, I am really trusting you with so much, here) I totally cheat when I make this sauce. Huh? Cheat? Yep, because I use frozen cherries.
Well, have you ever pitted cherries? It’s messy, takes a while, and who wants to do that for sauce? Not me. Pie, yes. Jam, okay. Sauce, no. Besides, with frozen cherries you can make this sauce any ol’ time you want! That’s right! No need to cry when cherry season is over! You can be saucy all year long! (Grins.)
Grill up your favorite meat and give this sauce a whirl!
Five-Spice Cherry Barbecue Sauce (click on title for printable recipe)
1 medium shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
½ Tablespoon butter, or ghee for dairy free
1 bag (12 oz.) frozen dark, sweet cherries
½ cup water
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
pinch of cayenne pepper (. . .or to taste. I like a bit of heat, so I do a couple of pinches)
Melt butter in medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and saute until translucent and tender, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add cherries and remaining ingredients. Once cherries are thawed, mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon until fine. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until thickened and jammy, about 20-30 minutes. Optional: Blend in a blender or food processor for a smoother sauce. Allow room for expansion from heat.
Serve as an accompaniment to grilled poultry or pork. Serves 6.