BY MARK BLY
The season of the hunt is here. The crisp fall nights and the warm afternoons spent on the side of a mountain are some of my best memories in Alaska.
Those idle hours spent waiting for the wind to change provide a great opportunity to pick some delicious berries. From my first hunt camp at the age of 7 to the quest I will soon be on leads me to a fine northern delicacy: the blueberry.
Nothing beats eating the fruit straight from the bush, or fresh at camp in some pancakes. Keep filling those empty water bottles and bring home a bushel. Even if you do not bag an animal you will have something to show besides the raccoon tan for your efforts.
Blueberries are a bit more versatile than one might think. From the simple jam to an elegant salmon feast, push your limits to how you approach your bounty.
This month, I share two recipes – and yes, these go beyond the basic blueberry jam – for enjoying blueberries with a twist. I hope you enjoy.
BLUEBERRY-BALSAMIC ROSEMARY CHICKEN
2 pounds of chicken thighs
2 cups of blueberries
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1\2 cup balsamic vinegar
1\3 cup agave
1\4 cup thinly sliced shallots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Season chicken with half the salt and pepper.
In a large heavy saucepan heat half the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and brown chicken about 1 minute a side. Once browned, set aside.
In the pan add remaining olive oil, and butter.
Add shallots and cook until caramelized. This should take about 5 minutes.
To the pan add the blueberries and cook for one minute.
Now stir in the balsamic vinegar, agave, rosemary and the rest of the salt and pepper. Simmer and gently stir for about 10 minutes or until the blueberries collapse.
Place chicken in a baking dish and pour the berry mixture over the top.
Bake on the upper rack for about 35 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees.
GRILLED WILD ALASKA SALMON WITH BLUEBERRIES
Half a red or king salmon fillet
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of pepper
4 sprigs of thyme
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups of blueberries
2 cups of white wine
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 stick of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter
In a small saucepan add shallots, wine, vinegar, thyme, cinnamon and a small pinch of salt. Reduce until the liquid has all but evaporated.
This should take 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
When reduced, add blueberries, half the butter, and honey, cook until the berries are soft and the sauce turns pink.
Fire up your grill to medium high and make a foil boat (a square of tin foil with the edges folded up).
Place foil on grill and add butter. When melted, put salmon in boat and spoon the blueberry mixture over the salmon. Reserve just a tad of the sauce for the presentation. Grill for about 10 minutes or until the salmon flakes up.
Plate salmon and drizzle with just a bit of the sauce.
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