New twists on blueberries

Published 12:00am Saturday, July 5, 2014

Blueberries are native to North America.

They once grew so profusely that there was no need to cultivate them, and they were not domesticated until the early 20th century. Most southern blueberries are now harvested from carefully tended wild strands or from cultivated varieties descended from the original wild ones.

Plentiful berries were sustenance food for the Native Americans, the earliest explorers and colonists. Native Americans knew how to dry blueberries in the sun and used them in pemmican. Pemmican (for those of us who do not know the term) is a food made chiefly from beef, dried fruit and suet, used in emergency rations. Later, they sold dried fruit to English settlers, who used them in place of currants in their recipes. For decades blueberries as well as huckleberries retained their association with wildness, exploration and pioneering. In fact, some people think that’s why Mark Twain gave the name of Huckleberry to his spirited, adventure-seeking character. I guess it does sound better than Blueberry!

Our blueberries are plentiful (more than plentiful, actually) and I do enjoy eating them, primarily fresh from a bowl. Knowing how good they are for you also helps me enjoy them more. Southern Living had a whole section on blueberry recipes and I could not help but try the one with blueberry-peach salsa over a grilled pork chop. Blueberries are being used in salads more and more and there is a recipe pairing it with kale in this issue also. So while blueberries are at their peak, use them in this recipe. It was delicious. You will not be disappointed.

 

Taken from July 2014, Southern Living magazine.

Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry-Peach Salsa

Serves 4

4 (1 ½-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops (about 3 ¼ lb.)

All-Purpose Pork Brine (recipe below)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Blueberry-Peach Salsa (recipe below)

Place pork and brine in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place bag in a shallow baking dish, and chill 8 hours.

Remove pork chops from brine; discard brine. Let pork stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Light one side of grill, heating to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat; leave other side unlit. Brush pork with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper.

Place pork over lit side, and grill, covered with grill lid, four minutes on each side. Transfer pork to unlit side, and grill, covered with grill lid, eight to 10 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 150°. Let stand five minutes. Arrange pork on a serving platter, and top with Blueberry-Peach Salsa. (We grill on a simple grill with hardwood charcoal with no lighter fluid, etc. used to start. We build a fire to get the charcoal started. Not fancy.)

 

All-Purpose Pork Brine

1 ½ qt. water

3 Tbsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 bay leaves

½ large lemon, sliced

Stir together all ingredients in a large stockpot until salt and sugar dissolve. Let stand 1 hour.

 

Blueberry-Peach Salsa

1 ½ cups blueberries

Zest and juice one 1 lime

1 large peach, peeled and finely diced

1 small shallot, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

2 Tbsp. hot pepper jelly

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Coarsely chop half of blueberries.

Toss chopped blueberries with whole blueberries and remaining ingredients.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 24 hours. Makes 3 cups.

 

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