Strawberry season is so worth waiting for. A couple weeks ago, I made an orange-spiked sabayon to drizzle on the first berries, and since then I’ve been buying flats and flats and making strawberry jam, strawberry ice cream, and, my favorite so far, strawberry bourbon sauce.
I got mine from Seedling Fruit, which is just four miles from me in Michigan. Peter Klein sells at a number of Chicago-area markets, but I stopped by the farm and bought them from Fruitslinger, Peter’s blogging colleague who was loading up the truck for market day. But whether you buy your berries from a farmers market or a you-pick operation, remember that strawberries grow close to the ground and will need a little washing. First, wash them just before using — they have a natural protective coating that will begin to deteriorate once rinsed and if you go home and rinse all your berries right away, in a day or two they’ll be mushy. Rather than rinsing in a colander, I fill a big bowl with water, slosh the berries around, then gently lift them out. I do this twice. This way no little gritty pieces will land on the lower berries. Then I pour them on to a fresh towel to absorb as much water as possible to keep the recipe flavor intense.
The way to an intense sauce is to keep liquid to a minimum, particularly since strawberries have a high natural water level. Sugar helps the strawberries release their juices, and the bourbon lends a lovely flavor. Note that I add some bourbon at the beginning, and then again at the end to keep the flavor fresh and vibrant.
Strawberry bourbon sauce
2 quarts strawberries, hulled
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bourbon, divided
vanilla ice cream
Pour berries into a large saucepan and pour sugar over the top. Allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour to let the berries macerate and release their juices. Add salt and two tablespoons bourbon and cook over medium high heat until bubbly and the strawberries easily mash with a potato masher or large slotted spoon. Mash until you achieve desired consistency — I like my berries almost whole
but you might prefer a smaller, more scoopable texture. Remove from heat, stir in remaining two tablespoons bourbon. Cool slightly and serve warm over ice cream. Makes about four cups, which you can store covered in the fridge.