I was at the grocery store the other day, hey hey, I usually do the grocery shopping!! Anyway, I saw a bag of cherries. Mmmmmmmm, I wonder if get that bag, could I eat all the cherries before I got to the other end of the store and had to check out? I ran the scenario of shopping and spitting cherry pits in each aisle through my head, well, my ADD had me in the potato aisle by then anyways, but this had me thinking on the way to work a few days later. I do what little thinking I do when driving to work. Okay okay and if I am not playing video games when I am in the porcelain office (you don’t do this? uh huh) I do some thinking there as well. I don’t cook from there. Anyways, I was thinking what a cherry tastes like smoked. LOL I don’t know, why not try it right? I
googled searched the idea of smoked cherries on the world-wide web. Relatively speaking of course. Since Google uses a super complicated algorithm that tries to learn me (my poor family members can’t even figure me out after 41 years), I don’t make it past the first search page results anyway. Not much on the topic of smoking cherries anyway and I ultimately decided, let’s make a BBQ sauce out of smoke cherries because I want to.
I am very very young (FINALLY, young again!) and undisciplined in the world of cooking, especially sauces. Besides obviously knowing what to throw in a sauce, the real trick with sauces, in my opinion, is everything you put in them, everything, plays a role in taste and as such there is no going back on a decision. Problem with that is, you can’t tell if that added spice or part did anything positive right away. Sauces are like a good chili to me. Don’t judge them today, judge them tomorrow. Let them develop. Which is really hard with a sauce because how do you know what the next ingredient is going to do? Well, experience and being a good cook would surely help. But I don’t have either. So, let the adventure begin I say, Smoked Cherry BBQ Sauce.
The cherries in this recipe were organic. Which I am sure meant, “Hey add the word organic on the package and slap an extra 3 dollars on them!”. By the way, USDA’s organic definition is HERE.
- So pitted, stemmed, and cut cherries in half. Oh my this was a pain in the butt. Took forever! Neck starting getting kinks in it. At one point little people in green jackets came running into the kitchen and started punching me in the back of the leg. Little mean Golf Masters or something. So, cutting the cherries in half gives the smoke an easy entrance point. Hey , Rated G show here. PG13 at least. List of ratings for frankenspam.com content can be found HERE.
- Put cherries cut side up in an electric smoker at 225* for a little under an hour. For the wood I used Cherry Wood. Uh, what else besides the cherries and the tree that birthed them coming together one last time? I figured the cherry wood was lighter in smoke flavor. Like pecan wood. Use whatever you want to do the smoking, charcoal, gas, I don’t care but 225* is about as hot as you want the temp. About 55 minutes is how long I did the cherries. I should have went for somewhere in the 45 minute range. I just wanted them to “cook a little” which is why I waited so long. I ate one and it tasted like smoke (in a good way). Texture was a warm cherry but all I tasted was sweet smoky juiciness. Okay, I guess that wasn’t so bad. But it got me thinking, there really isn’t any cherry taste, I need other fruit to join the party. I happen to have plenty of blueberries from Frog Eye Farm that my wife and youngest handpicked. Awesome family and farm by the way. They don’t use any chemicals or pesticides. NONE! Check their website out! And I thought plums would go good with this sauce. So I got some Black Plums. It’s a wrecked recipe after all, add what fruit you think would work. You could even lose the fruit and go for an extract I suppose. Like cherry extract.
- In the blender I threw the now smoked cherries (3 cups total), 1 cup of blueberries, and 2 black plums (diced up). I didn’t blend yet. Set off to side.
- In a, uhm, what do you call it, OH, in a sauce pan I put a tablespoon of butter, five diced up garlic cloves (I LOVE GARLIC), and a third of a large Vidalia onion, diced up of course (I think a half onion would have been better AND yellow onion instead). Medium heat and stir them around until the onions are translucent and the garlic is starting to turn dark yellow, close to brown. Don’t burn the garlic to quick, it will go bitter on you. If you want, you could skip this step and just throw a tablespoon of butter in later and 2 tablespoons each of dehydrated garlic and onion bits in the sauce. But to make a nice textured sauce you will definitely want to blend or emulsify later.
- Pour a cup of your choice, chicken or vegetable broth (I prefer vegetable but only had chicken at the time of this delicate procedure) into the onions and garlic. Stir around and then pour this yumminess into the blender.
- For heat, take two jalapeño’s cut the stem tops off and dice the jalapeno’s up and throw them into the blender party as well. (Throw the stems away) Rinds, seeds and all go into the blender. The rinds and the seeds contain most of the heat in a jalapeno. You could de-rind and de-seed them first. Your call. When you test the sauce in the beginning it will be VERY spicy but this settles down and the extra sugars that we add in a little bit will mask the “front heat”. Ever eat something sweet and spicy? Sweet at first then the heat hits in the back of your mouth? That’s this sauce.
- Hit “chop” on the blender until all items are mixed together, then onto purée for about 15 seconds to get a good mix, and then food processor speed for about a minute. The plum skins are what we are trying to cut up with all this blending.
- Once you are happy with the blend, you are going to need the big pot, pour the mixture into this pot and get the stove temp on medium. 5 for me. 5 is between 1 and 10 so my 8-year-old tells me. I tried to disagree saying that 1 thru 5 is 5 and 6 thru 10 is 5 so there is not an in-between so to say. We settled for 5.5 on the stove. This is actually a high temp for a sauce, so bubbling is going to happen. You can dial back to 4 if you need to. 6 way to high, 4 might not be high enough. Got it? Okay.
- So the sauce’s stars are in the pot. Should be a very loose mixture. Loose defined as watery. It’s okay. That’ll cook down later.
- Now let’s add the spices and give the sauce some depth.
- 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.
- 2 Cups of Ketchup.
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- 1 tablespoon of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 cup of brown sugar (next time I make this, I might try white sugar. The dark molasses flavor from brown sugar I think, not sure, but I think made this sauce to “deep”)
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (you can omit if ya want)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin (I might not use this next time I make this)
- 1 teaspoon of roasted ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of crushed (I use a mortar and pestle) celery seed
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger (I know, crazy huh?)
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (I’d put 3 in but I do want others to like the sauce)
- Stir. Stir. I like to use a whisk to stir. I am looking for a non-metal whisk. Any ideas? But a wooden spoon is just fine. Slotted is better.
- Okay, ready? 1 cup of honey, put that in now. Stir. Make sure none of that brown sugar lumped up on you.
- This sauce is crazy purple in color.
- Keep on 4-5 on the stove for a good bit of 30 minutes. Stir often.
- From here on out, leave the sauce uncovered and on about 3 on the stove. Leave it for about an hour and coming back to stir it every so often. Maybe every 10 minutes. After the hour it should have cooked down to the consistency of a good sauce. If not, go longer. Just don’t turn it up on high and burn it. It takes time!!!! Turn off heat and go about your business if you are okay with the consistency. Leave it on the same stove eye, just turn off. These times varies of course. The important thing here is to cook the sauce down without burning it. It takes time. Don’t boil it. Steam needs to come off of it with a few bubbles here and there. Boiling = bad. The steam is good because that is the moisture you are removing.
At this point, your call. This makes about 6 pints of sauce. I know right? I always put my sauce (once cooled down some) back in the blender for one more blending. It helps add air and really get things mixed up and even makes it a tad thicker. The smell of the sauce at this put in my opinion is weird. Not bad, but, weird. I think it is the cumin with all the sweetness. It tastes nothing like it smells. The fruits don’t really come out in the taste as far as I can tell when you taste JUST the sauce. But put this sauce on something, pork, chicken, turkey, beef roast, or whatever, and you can taste the fruits. They come out big time! Nice spicy finish too. It actually is impossible to eat this sauce and not think of BBQ sauce. That’s the beauty of Worcestershire and ketchup. But the coriander, celery seed, and lemon juice help keep the sauce from being to “deep”. I like it. I give it a 3 out of 5 stars in taste. You can obviously choose to not smoke the cherries. I am sure it would be very good, maybe even sweeter and obviously more cherry tasting. Again, if I had to change anything (which as always, I never make the same thing again) I’d go with white sugar, possibly lose the cumin, and go with a yellow onion. Maybe even cut the sugar back to half a cup and increase the honey to a cup and a half.
On another note, if you removed the fruits and used any other fruit, you still have a star in my opinion. I made a killer mango sauce last week with this same “concept” of a recipe and it was freaking delicious. So again, when you make a sauce that is, eh, okay, I promise you there is a small change that could make the sauce better.
I am not an expert “canner” as the site’s TOS mentions. I use a pressure cooker, but I am getting better at it. So anyway, I am doing one jar at a time. Last jar out and I am using tongs to get the lids out of the pressure cooker. Water just under a boil, I am focusing on getting the lid, just can’t get the tong to grab it. I keep pushing the lid around. ARGHGHG Keep trying, in the mean time my hand keeps getting closer and closer to the water. Then, dip, right into the water my middle finger. OUOOUOUOUOUOUOOUCH!!!! SON OF….HOLY…..it’s a labor of love. Yeh, labor of love. By the way, I have a couple of jars left. Promise I didn’t use any of the water that burnt me to make these. 😛
Recipe minus the long winded story Click HERE
Remember, don’t judge this sauce until the next day and it is actually used on something.