Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blackberry Red Wine Sauce

Although fresh berries are a delightful, healthy snack to pop here and there throughout the day, and find themselves even more at home when baked up in a beautiful crisp tart, sometimes you have a little bit of an abundance on your hands, and can utilize something both sweet and tart as a decadent sauce to a medium rare, fatty piece of meat, or a tender and juicy pork loin. In our case, we had about a cup of fresh blackberries left over from our berry picking excursion at Russell Orchards and two lovely bone in smoked pork chops, purchased from Karl's Sausage Kitchen.
Smoked Bone In Pork Chops
First for a little background information on this sweet meat. The pork chops we bought at Karl's were both salt cured and smoked in house at their little store. However, they were still raw. Smoked pork chops, largely due to their salty, sweet, somewhat hammy flavor are often used in a dish known as choucroute garnie, an Alsacian recipe in which sausages and salted meats are cooked altogether with sauerkraut and potatoes. For our purposes tonight, these pork chops would be prepared just as you would regular pork chops, and if you decide to cook this pork as we did, the meat should have all the characteristics of a wonderful piece of ham. It'll be juicy due to the salt cure, and there will be the sweetness of the pork, and the extra little smokey flavor produced from the meat's time at Karl's Sausage Kitchen's smoker. Truth be told, they're delicious. They're a plussed version of a regular pork chop, but they are a little bit salty, and therefore, they need something sweet and tart to really cut through that burst of intense flavor. The blackberries are exactly the solution.
So I set out to create a blackberry red wine reduction to complement the juicy smoked pork chop. It was very easy to make. Start with about 3/4 of a cup of dry red wine, like a Shiraz. You'll need a cup of blackberries. Then, there is salt and about three peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, a dash of ground cloves, and maybe a quarter cup of sugar to sweeten everything. 
First, throw your red wine into a sauce pan, and turn heat to medium. When simmering, throw in your blackberries, and give them a little bit of a crush with a potato masher to get the whole thing stewing. After the liquid returns to a simmer, turn to low, and add the rest of your ingredients. Let everything bubble for about fifteen to twenty minutes on the low simmer, and then break out your potato masher again to smoosh all of the blackberries. Check for sweetness and flavor, and when it's reduced to a somewhat thin syrup consistency (lightly coating the back of a spoon), go ahead and cut your heat. Serve in individual ramekins so that everyone has their own little dipping sauce.
The salty, smokey pork, and sweet, tart blackberry wine sauce to really make the meat dance on your tongue. This is a very rich flavor, but sort of harmonizes the whole thing: think of cranberry sauce on your Thanksgiving dinner plate - gotta have something sweet/tart to cut all that gravy, stuffing, and turkey. Just a few extra minutes and your dinner has it's own fresh, delicious sauce. 

1 cup fresh blackberries
3/4 of a cup of red wine (Shiraz)
1/4 cup sugar
3 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
Dash of salt
Dash of ground cloves

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