My Secret Cherry Sauce

Post Cherry Sauce

My favorite Barbecue Sauce Recipe

I state that in the complex and sometimes singular genome that composes my taste buds, there is probably a “Nordic” component that plays a role if not prominent at least present, relevant, significant. Among the many influences that this brings to my culinary expression, today I wanted to bore you with my passion for red fruits. I like everyone of them, so different one from each other and yet linked by the same thread. I like the sour, sweet contrast of the Ribes with the furry game meat. I like the contrast between the balanced sweetness of the blueberry, even in the Cranberry version, with sour ingredients or with alcohol (I really love the Cosmopolitan, although many consider it a feminine cocktail, perhaps because they often hear it in Sex and the City). I love the strong sweetness of raspberry on desserts, especially those with a base of buttery shortcrust pastry. I love the austere and deep tones of blackberry in the roux in accompaniment to red meats, perhaps with the addition of a smooth wine like Merlot. But above all, I love cherries. But not those ferrari-red outside and white inside, fresh and with light taste. I speak precisely of the black cherries. I adore that constant match on the thread between an important sweetness and a voluptuous and complex character that seems to succeed everything easy, a taste that fills the mouth but never get tired of bothering, a bit ‘like James Bond that manages to get away in any situation without even creasing his tuxedo. I find it an extremely elegant ingredient and one of the most effective Umami expressions in the “sweet” world, with a virtually infinite range of possible applications. Perhaps now you will see a little less unusual that my first “serious” barbecue sauce was a Cherry Sauce.

This sauce, developed and improved over the years, had indeed a strange history. Born in the beginning as a sauce intended for use in the competitive circuit, it then reached its own maturity and ended up taking it on different paths, and perhaps more consistent with its nature. My Cherry Sauce was formulated in conjunction with my earliest competitions with the goal of creating a glaze sauce destined for the chicken category but without ever having the courage to experiment it in the field. I have always preferred to play defensively, take out the confident shots of the repertoire and raise the odds to go to points. When I decided to create a my own team, the one that bears the logo you see at the top left, I made the courageous choice to overturn all the recipes previously used in communion with my old mates and try new techniques that I had kept in the drawer until then. In that drawer there was also my Cherry Sauce. And here are the first contradictions: anyone who tasted it was definitely impressed, it is certainly not a sauce that don’t leave indifferent. The feedback received was all extremely flattering and yet in the competition world it was a little slow. Not that has ever caused damage but all the changes made both in terms of recipe and use in cooking, matured basing on score sheet data, they did not seem to produce tangible results. Its use seemed to have no influence on the result. During the event in Camargue of our first year I decided to ask an opinion to my friends Miss Piggy’s, a team that knows hot to win. What they told me was: “It’s good! I do not know if it’s very suitable for competitions, you’d have to try”. They leave and come back after 5 minutes with a questioning look and the index finger resting on their lips “Mh! I loved that sauce …”. I had the first signs of the fact that the future I had designed for it was perhaps not the right one: people liked the sauce but maybe the competitive context did not belong to it.

In the meantime, someone who had tasted it began to ask me the recipe and here I must admit that I was a bit ‘fun to play the mysterious, as if it were my secret weapon (secret weapon for what then? Bah!) while in reality I had already over time replaced cherry sauce with a  more easy to understand one. The fact is that over time it has undeservedly become my “secret sauce”. Needless to say that there is nothing secret about it and that I am pleased to be able to share it with you.

Cherry Sauce IngredientiMy Cherry Sauce has undergone changes over time, even under the technical profile: it was even born as a cold made sauce, as a simple integration of ingredients to the union of two existing commercial sauces and marketed, and then turn into time in this “cooked” version starting completely from scratch. It is a Cherry Sauce and the flavor of the black cherry is therefore prevalent but it is not the only red fruit present and finds a very valid shoulder in the raspberry. The imprint of the first is given through a product in my opinion exceptional. It is the Ponthier, a fresh cherry puree used for cocktails and pastry but also perfect for our purpose. Years ago when I was still able to brass at home, I used yet this product brewing an intense, flooring and spicy cherry-flavored Christmas Beer, which I had called Cherry Xmas. The raspberry side instead we will try it through the use of a good quality unsweet raspberry jam and raspberry vinegar.

My Cherry Sauce


800 ml. Heinz Ketchup
200 ml. Raspeberry Vinegar
350 gr. Raspberry Jam
500 ml. Black Cherry puree
250 gr. Muscobado Sugar
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
5 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 tablespoon Black Cherry Syrup
1 tablespoon Chestnut Honey
6 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Mustard Powder
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Pimenton (Smoked Paprika)
2 teaspoons Chili Pepper
1 teaspoon Cayenna Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper (I use Tellycherry)
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Powder
1 teaspoon Hickory Liquid Smoke
200 ml. cleary Apple Juice
1 tablespoon Glucose

Preparation: Add all the ingredients but apple juice and glucose in a saucepan, stir and bring to a boil over medium heat. With the help of immersion blender finely blended all  and lower the flame to the minimum. Continuing to stir, proceed with the cooking until the sugar component has not reached a good caramelization and the sauce will not have become quite thick, of a density comparable to a classic Kansas City Style Sauce, perhaps even more. On the palate it must become sweet but at the same time aromatic and complex. Pay particular attention to this phase, otherwise you will have a simple flat and untiring amarena syrup. It will take about 30-60 minutes depending on the size of the fire crown of your stove and the pot used. Mix the last two ingredients separately until complete dissolving glucose in apple juice. Turn off the heat and gradually add the mixture to the sauce, stirring continuously until the desired viscosity is obtained. My ideal Cherry Sauce is quite fluid. Making the classic test of the back of the spoon, the sauce clings it with a very thin but firm layer of an intense bright and shiny red. Let the sauce cool down by covering the saucepan with its lid or pouring it directly into the jars and sealing them (do not let the sauce evaporate further)

Cherry Sauce Bollitura
Lucentezza a Fine Bollitura

Cherry Sauce Bollitura
Densità a fine bollitura

Cherry Sauce Finita
Lucentezza finale

Cherry Sauce Finita
Densità finale

I doubt that my secret Cherry Sauce, now no longer secret, can help you in competition more than it did with me, but if you want you are free to try. For those who are my competition preparation targets, it fit very well with both chicken and ribs. I’m much more certain that it can turn out to be a faithful companion of your backyard barbecue, territory in which it do not miss a shot. I think that among all the barbecue sauces created by me, this is the one that has had the highest percentage of positive feedback: really everyone likes it! It fits a little ‘to any context where you can use a barbecue sauce but I must confess that I think it creates a perfect marriage with the ribs: it is sweet enough to ruffianate children but has a personality and a complexity to satisfy even the most austere among the adults, with that light final kick that does not leave indifferent. In glaze it then integrates perfectly with the meat, polishing and embellishing the taste but without creating the classic “coat”.

If you like cherries and barbecues like me, a Cherry Sauce can not miss in your pantry and maybe from today that sauce could be this one. But do not tell anyone, it’s a secret. Or maybe not…

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