It’s berry time again and with my neighbors front yard full of fresh wild blueberries I’m ready to do some recipe testing and tasting from books I’ve been scratching to try. Last week I was experimenting with a blueberry energy bar idea. Blueberry and banana actually. It was tasty. But definitely not appealing as a grab n’ go energy bar kinda thing. My boyfriend loved the bars and told me to share the recipe…hmmmm..maybe another day. lol
I have several (understatement) cookbooks and last year I purchased Vivian Howard’s book “Deep Run Roots.” I was a fan of her food by way of her show “A Chef’s Life” on PBS. I watched an episode where her dad got a great deal on fresh blueberries for Vivian’s restaurant but left out the part of actually HOW many blueberries he actually purchased. She had a bit of a freak out moment trying to decide what to do with all those blueberries but it only sparked her creative juices. She ended up creating a blueberry barbecue sauce that the people in her small town in North Carolina fell in love with. I’ve wanted to try this recipe since then but haven’t gotten the opportunity…til now. The time has come to get the sauce uh stewing and get the grill fired up for some blueberry barbecue grilled chicken!
The following recipe is written from Saveur Magazine
For the sauce:
- 3 cups blueberries
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar, divided
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1⁄4 tsp. chile flakes
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
For the chicken:
- One 3-lb. chicken (ask your butcher to butterfly or spatchcock the bird by cutting out the backbone and sternum and flattening the bird)
- 3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Make the sauce: Put the blueberries and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar in a food processor. Pulse the berries just to break them up and get some juices flowing.
In a medium saucepan, combine the pulverized berries with the remaining vinegar, sugar, chile flakes, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and then cover the pot. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Carefully transfer the hot sauce to a blender. Remove the knob from the top of the blender lid and cover with a dish towel to prevent an explosion.
Blend the sauce to get it as smooth as possible, then pass it through a fine mesh strainer, directly back into the pan. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced by about one-third of its original volume (25–30 minutes). It should coat the back of a spoon and have the viscosity of maple syrup. Let the sauce rest, at least overnight, before using. Blue Q will keep for months, covered, in the refrigerator.
Make the chicken: Light your grill and heat it to roughly 350°. Thirty minutes before you plan to grill, bring the chicken to room temperature and season with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the black pepper.
Place chicken, skin side up, on the grill and close the lid. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Baste with blueberry sauce every 5 minutes for an additional 20 minutes, keeping the lid closed between basting activity. After a total of 40 minutes, flip chicken over to caramelize the skin, and baste the other side for 10 minutes more. Using a probe thermometer, check the internal temperature of the meaty part of a thigh. When it reaches 165°, remove chicken from the grill.
Off the grill, douse the chicken in 1⁄2 cup of blueberry sauce and let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve into 6 or 8 pieces and toss once more in another 1⁄2 cup sauce. Serve the chicken warm or at room temperature.
Here’s a short little video I did so you can see how the sauce should look when it’s ready:
I decided to grill some chicken thighs up and baste them frequently as Chef Howard explained in the above directions. The thighs cooked in approximately the same time estimated for a whole spatchcocked chicken. The chicken browned beautifully and the icing on the cake was the blue sauce drizzled on the top of the chicken after it came off the grill. It added such a tangy sweetness that paired great with the poultry. I also love that I have enough sauce left over to fill a mason jar and keep in the fridge for future use!
As chef mentions above, let the sauce hang out in the fridge overnight. It really makes a world of difference in the taste and acidity level. I woke up the next day after making this, gave it a taste….and was just like “wwwwoooooow!”
While the chicken was grilling I threw on some fresh corn in the husk (after taking the silk out and soaking it for an hour in salted water) on the grill. When the corn was done I rolled it in a cilantro queso fresco butter and made a small side salad. Talk about summer meal!
Who do you turn to for culinary inspiration? What’s your favorite summertime meal to prepare..or just partake in? Hit me up below!