[From my Cooking from Scratch column.]
As we were finishing dinner the other night, I heard a knock at the front door. Grateful to escape the job of scrubbing the baby's beet-stained face, I quickly slipped out past the dog to find a neighbor standing on my front porch with a bowl of fat, dark blackberries cupped up in an offering. “Thanks for the eggs,” she smiled, as she pressed the bowl into my hands and slipped away.
My husband and I keep talking about moving. We've been happy in our cozy, starter home, but―with the arrival of child number two―we're starting to get overly snug. Almost every time we talk about leaving East Lawrence, however, the conversation ends with me trailing off wistfully, “But I'll miss the neighborhood....”
It's really the best. It's live and let live enough to accommodate my mild introversion, but something interesting or nice is always happening. One time I had a chicken get loose and it ended in a fish fry. We have the best seats in town for the horse drawn Christmas parade. I keep coming home to a mysteriously freshly mowed front lawn. And the only time we have ever been looked upon with disfavor was when we re-homed our―loud and smelly, but completely endearing―trio of ducks.
It's not for everyone, to be sure, but―if we do move away―I'm really going to miss those spontaneous interactions and neighborly exchanges.
For now, though, I'm going to try not to worry about the future and instead enjoy my blackberries.
The following sauce “concentrate” is one of my favorite uses for fresh blackberries when they're in season. The concentrate will keep in the fridge for about a month, and even longer in the freezer. It's delicious over chicken or beef, but my favorite way to serve it is spooned over a grilled pork tenderloin, as described below.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce (Serves 4-6)
For the Blackberry Sauce Concentrate
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- about 3 cups blackberries
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
For the Pork Tenderloin
- 1-2 pound Pork Tenderloin
- 3 tablespoons mustard
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons blackberry sauce concentrate
- 2/3 cup water
While you can get away with just marinating this pork for a few hours, it's better if you can let it sit overnight. For the marinade, mix together the mustard, lemon juice, thyme and salt. Rub it into the meat well, pop the whole thing into a plastic, zip-top bag and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Likewise, while it's not imperative, the blackberry sauce concentrate can also be made ahead of time.
To make it, pour the ½ cup water and the brown sugar in a large saucepan and heat over medium until the brown sugar melts. Add the berries and bring the mixture to a gentle boil for about 10 minutes.
Then, using a fine, mesh strainer, strain off the berries, squeezing them well so that you get all of the juice. Discard the berries and gently boil the remaining juice and sugar mixture for about 8 minutes more.
Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil one last time, stirring frequently to keep the sauce from scorching. When the bubbles change from foamy to shiny looking―about 5 minutes―remove the sauce from the heat and pour it into a lidded container. Kept in the fridge, this sauce concentrate will last for at least a month and it will keep even longer in the freezer.
The next day, cook the pork tenderloin on a hot grill―turning frequently to assure even cooking―until the internal temperature is at least 145 degrees. Wrap the tenderloin in foil and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes to allow it to finish cooking with carry over heat.
Meanwhile, add the butter and flour to a large skillet and whisk together over medium heat until the flour turns caramel colored. Lower the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the blackberry sauce concentrate and 2/3 cup of water, continuing to whisk until the sauce is thick and bubbly. (If it gets too thick, you can always thin it down with a little extra hot water.)
Slice the pork tenderloin against the grain and spoon the blackberry sauce generously over the top just before serving.