Marionberries: Sweet, Savory, and Marvelously Drinkable

In our minds (and mouths), Oregon’s most distinguished berry is the marion. Here are three ways to tap into its soul.

By Benjamin Tepler June 15, 2016 Published in the July 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Michael Novak

Chef Doug Adams’s Pork Chops with Poblano Aioli & Marionberry Salad

Fatty, porcine goodness with creamy-spicy sauce and a sweet berry counterpunch.

(Serves 4–6)

  • 4 “belly on” pork chops (available at Tails & Trotters)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 asparagus stalks (Adams shaves his into ribbons with a peeler.)
  • 1 pint marionberries
  • 8 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • ½ lemon
  • Poblano aioli*

BRINE THE PORK CHOPS Combine ½ cup sugar, 1 cup salt, 1 orange (halved), 1 lemon (halved), 2 sprigs sage, 3 sprigs rosemary, and 1 gallon water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let cool completely, pour over pork chops, cover, and refrigerate for 24–48 hours.

MAKE THE SALAD Combine asparagus, marionberries, basil, and cilantro in a bowl, and toss with olive oil and juice from lemon.

GRILL THE CHOPS Drizzle pork chops with olive oil and season generously with salt, pepper, and paprika. Light a grill over medium-high heat and cook for 8 minutes, flip, and cook for another 8 minutes. Let chops rest for 10 minutes, and serve with salad and poblano aioli.

*Poblano Aioli

Combine and purée 2 egg yolks, 1 clove garlic, and ¼ bunch cilantro in a food processor. Add 1 tbsp lime juice, salt to taste, and 3 poblano peppers, roasted on the grill, peeled, and seeded. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, gradually adding more until the consistency of loose mayonnaise. Season with salt.

Milk Glass Mrkt’s Marionberry–Fennel Seed Coffee Cake

Rich crumb cake pocked with tart fruit and a spiced sugar crunch.

(Makes one 10-inch cake)

  • cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sticks butter, plus more for the pan
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups fresh marionberries
  • Almond fennel oat crumb*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch tube pan. In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, pour in the buttermilk and add the vanilla. Melt the butter in a small saucepan until just starting to brown and slowly whisk into the bowl with the buttermilk. Whisk in eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold until fully incorporated. Fold in the marionberries. Pour batter into pan and top with almond fennel oat crumb. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, around 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes before serving, and top with a dollop of crème fraîche.

*Almond Fennel Oat Crumb

Melt 6 tbsp butter in a skillet, remove from heat, add 1 tsp fennel seed (crushed) and 1 tsp vanilla extract, and let sit 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup sliced almonds, ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, and 1 tsp flake salt. Add butter mix, spread out onto a baking tray, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Farm Spirit’s Marionberry Shrub

Mouth-puckering, super sweet, and perfect in both boozy and nonalcoholic summer coolers.

(Makes 1 quart)

Combine 2 cups marionberries with ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup white sugar in a glass quart container, and cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature for 24–48 hours, stirring a few times a day. Add 1 cup champagne vinegar, 7 peppercorns, 3 juniper berries, and 1 pinch red pepper flakes, and mix well. Cover again and let sit at room temperature, away from sunlight, for 7–10 days, stirring twice a day. Pour the shrub through a strainer, pushing the berries through with the back of a spoon, and serve simply on ice with soda water. (Start with 1 part shrub to 4 parts water.) For a kick, mix with gin or vodka, like Aviation or Crater Lake, topped with torn mint leaves. Marionberry shrub will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator.

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