Last week at the farmer’s market I found something extra special – huckleberries. These tiny tasty berries are my idea of wonderful. Their dark rich flavor is related to, but a little more intense and tart than, the generous juicy sweetness of my favorite summer blueberries.
Reading about huckleberries I learned that there has been a bumper crop this season growing along trails at upper elevations in the Cascade mountains. If you have the opportunity to collect or buy huckleberries don’t miss out. They are a sumptuous treat that slip easily into early fall menus.
I used some of the huckleberries I bought at the market last week in a wonderful huckleberry sauce. This sauce is quite similar to the Summer Berry Basil Sauce I use in a variety of simple desserts. Where it varies is that instead of basil I pair the wild tartness of the huckleberries with the earthy notes of thyme and nutmeg while adding a little balsamic vinegar and red wine.
As an accompaniment to an entree, like Herb Roasted Chicken, Huckleberry Thyme Sauce adds complexity and interest to an ordinary fall dinner. As a topping for meringue cookies, maple walnut ice cream or fresh ripe fruit it adds earthy sweetness and dramatic fall color to a simple light dessert.
A perfectly ripe peach half topped with Huckleberry Thyme Sauce, sweetened whipped cream, a sprinkle of maple sugar and a sprig of fresh thyme
Huckleberry Thyme Sauce
approximately 2 cups huckleberries
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 four-inch sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tablespoons red wine
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
In a small saucepan stir together half of the huckleberries, honey, lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme sprigs, red wine and vinegar.
Cook gently, over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes, or until berries have softened and released their juice. With the back of a spoon squash some of the berries against the side of the pan while cooking.
Remove from heat. With a spoon, remove the thyme sprigs and discard.
Stir in the rest of the fresh huckleberries.
Serve with roast chicken or pork, or spooned over fresh peaches, pears, meringue cookies or ice cream.