Use Freshly Picked Blueberries to Pep Up Your Palate
by CAROL CORLEY
Blueberries are one of the foods where you start your dining enjoyment with your eyes. The delicate fruit is best when its color is at its deepest beautiful blue — almost purple to black.
The berries can have a bloom — a light blue to silver coating — but if there is any hint of red, white, or green, the fruit isn’t fully ripened and will be tart. If you are picking — leave them on the bush. If you are buying, don’t choose that box as they will not ripen.
To find out if they are sweet enough, taste is the best option. When selecting berries, you want those that are uniform in size and color, dry, plump, and firm. These will give you the best results in the kitchen.
When cooking with blueberries, there are some problems that you can encounter, like having them all clump at the bottom of the dish. To prevent that, you can coat the berries with cornstarch. Also, you can spread half the batter, then half the berries, more batter, and finally more berries.
Blueberries pair well with basil, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, lemon, thyme, nutmeg, rosemary, and mint, according to blueberry.org. You can also include blueberries with cheeses as part of a charcuterie board.
The berries can enhance dishes from a meat entrée to salads to desserts and smoothies. When using the berries in a smoothie, choose frozen berries to avoid the need for ice. Blueberry sauces can also enhance entrées including pork, chicken, and salmon. So let us start with the entrée.
Blueberry Barbecue Pulled Pork
(Adapted from blueberry.org/recipes)
Blueberries, 1-1/4 cup frozen, rinsed
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Brown sugar, 3 tablespoons packed
Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon
Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon
Apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup
Oregano, 1 teaspoon dried
Butter, 2 tablespoons
Onion, 1 medium, diced
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon if desired, or to taste
Pork shoulder, 3-1/2 pounds boneless
Olive oil, 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons divided
Onions, 1 large, chopped roughly
Garlic, 6 cloves smashed
Chicken broth, 4 cups
Oregano, 1 tablespoon dried
Garlic powder, 2 teaspoons
Black pepper, 2 teaspoons
Salt, 1-1/2 tablespoons
Chili powder, 2 teaspoons if desired, or to taste
Thyme sprigs, 1 small bunch fresh
Starting with the sauce, cook onion and garlic over medium heat in butter until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and oregano, adding chili powder if desired. Cook a minute or two before stirring in blueberries and cooking another minute or two until softened. Mash mix with potato masher to crush blueberries. Now add vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Finally add salt and pepper to taste and cook over medium-low heat for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture should thicken. Place in a blender and puree until smooth.
For pulled pork, drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto pork shoulder and rub to coat, then rub spice mixture over pork — oregano, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder if desired. Now place pork mixture in batches in a Dutch oven, add remaining oil, and cook each batch for 12-18 minutes in an oven preheated to 325 F, turning frequently. Remove from the Dutch oven and set aside. Then in a Dutch oven place onions, thyme, and smashed garlic and cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes until softened.
Place pork mixture back in Dutch oven, adding chicken broth, and return to oven to cook for 3-4 hours, flipping pork midway. Once pork is tender, remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
In a large bowl, shred pork using 2 forks, and season with a bit more salt. Set aside.
Heat Dutch oven with cooking liquid to medium, cooking for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Liquid should be reduced by half. Now add 2/3 of cooking liquid to pulled pork. Remaining liquid can be retained for a future project.
Serve pulled pork with coleslaw in toasted burger buns and top with blueberry barbecue sauce.
(Adapted from Food & Wine)
Blueberries, 1 cup plus 1/4 cup for garnish
Cream cheese, 8 oz softened
Heavy cream, 1 cup chilled
Sour cream, 1 cup
Sugar, 1/2 cup
Salt, 3/4 teaspoon
Pistachios, or nuts of choice, chopped for garnish
First mash then cook blueberries with sugar and salt, simmering over moderate heat, about 10 minutes or until the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and scrape into a food processor, allowing to cool completely.
Now add sour cream and cream cheese to the food processor and purée with the jam until smooth. In a large bowl beat heavy cream to soft peaks, fold in the blended berry-jam mixture until blended. Spoon the final product into fluted glasses and top with pistachio or other nuts and a few blueberries.