Of course blackberry season means tasty desserts like pies, cobblers, dumplings, ice cream, and tarts, but that isn’t all you can do with this versatile fruit. Fresh blackberries make a fantastic BBQ sauce that is perfect for grilled venison, pork, turkey, or bear meat. Here, we drizzled it over grilled elk backstrap.
We like to add another layer of flavor to our sweet and tangy blackberry sauce by smoking the berries on our Traeger Grill before adding them to the finished product. To keep your berries from drying out, add a bit of bourbon (water also works) before smoking.
Wild blackberries have seeds. Seeds in or seeds out of your finished sauce is up to you. If you want to remove them, simply run the smoked berries through the blender until smooth, then push the pulp through a wire mesh or cheesecloth strainer. I did one batch with seeds left in and one with them strained out. I preferred the seedless version.
4 cups fresh wild blackberries, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Start by smoking the blackberries. Add all 4 cups to a disposable 9-by-12-inch aluminum pan. Add the bourbon. Place the pan directly onto the grate of your Traeger Grill set at 225 degrees with the Super Smoke feature turned on. Smoke for 45 minutes.
Remove the berries from the smoker and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the berries and any accumulated juice into a blender and process until smooth. If desired, pour the blended fruit through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Push the pulp through with a spatula until only seeds remain.
In a large saucepan or small pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the diced shallot and minced garlic. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until the shallots are clear and soft. Add the blackberry pulp and juice, along with all remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to stick to meat.
Allow the sauce to cool, then pour it into a quart jar. Store in the refrigerator up to 7 to 14 days. Brush on or pour over any grilled meat.
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