Saucy Summer

by TRH on July 15, 2013

in Cooking & Recipes

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I freaking LOVE barbecue sauce. Personally there’s very rarely an instance where I wouldn’t rather have barbecue sauce over ketchup. Let’s be honest though… what can be called a barbecue sauce varies across a pretty massive spectrum of flavours & consistencies. A friend once told me that he thinks bbq sauce varies more than the sauces of French cooking. While I wouldn’t go that far there’s definitely a delicious gamut to be run. Whether your taste runs more to the thick and sweet Kansas City style end of the spectrum or you’re a Carolina vinegar fan there’s something for pretty much everyone. The question is, why aren’t you making your own?

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Any barbecue sauce you buy in a store is likely to be ridiculously oversweet and underflavoured. Homemade barbecue sauce is easy to make, keeps reasonably well and you can make yourself a whole variety of flavours for the price of a couple bottles of Bullseye. Just make sure you store them in clean containers with tight fitting lids.

Here’s a quick and (I hope) mostly accurate guide to some of the sauce styles out there:
Kansas City Style:

Thick ketchup sauces that are tomato based and rich in flavour, usually there is at a fair bit of sugar (often from molasses in traditional recipes) to balance out the vinegar. Depending on the flavour you’re going for this kind of sauce works with most meat and generally serves as a coating. Careful though, if you’re basting on the grill you should follow the rules of saucing and save it for the end as the sugar can easily burn.

Carolina Style:

The Carolina variety of sauces tend to be heavier on the vinegar and as a result are quite tangy. Within the region you see pure vinegar and pepper types in the east, hints of tomato in the north and west and mustard based sauces in the south. Needless to say, all are delicious. Personally I prefer the tomato for pork and the mustard for chicken.

Texas Style:

I’ve seen lots of different sauces labelled texas style. In general they are thinner in consistency than their KC counterparts and often contain some more southwest/Mexican touches (cumin/chilli.) Texas Barbecue tends to be beef and the sauces are tailored to match. Apparently when you’re eating in texas proper the sauces are often mixed with beef drippings and/or your meat is just dunked in the sauce prior to serving.

Alabama Style:

Alabama white is an odd mayonnaise and vinegar sauce that tends to be mostly for chicken. While I enjoy it I can’t say I prefer it to some of the others so it rarely gets made at my house.

These four are just vague generalities to boot. Various sub-regions and even cities have other recipes and this is yet another of those food areas where you can start a fight by claiming one is best. My advice? Have a backyard get together, make a bunch of different sauces, use it an excuse to lapse into a meat coma.

 

Recipes:

The below are personal recipes that I’ve collected over the years and adjusted to fit my personal tastes. Things are pretty flexible ingredient wise unless otherwise noted.

Simple Carolina Red Sauce:
• 1.5 cups Ketchup
• 1.5 cups Apple Cider Vinegar (You can use white for a sharper flavour)
• ½ TBSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
• 1 tsp Cayenne Powder
• Pinch of Kosher Salt

-Mix all ingredients well and throw in a squeeze bottle.

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This is a sharp and runny red sauce that is pretty amazing on shredded chicken or pulled pork. Easily soaks and permeates the meat. The sharpness can be cut by adding some more ketchup or some brown sugar. You can pretty easily adjust to your personal taste.

Note: According to Meathead at amazingribs.com and others this can make a nice richer sauce if you mix it with melted butter just before serving. Note that any unused mixed sauce should be tossed after a while as animal fat spoils much faster.

Kansas/Texas Sweet:
• 1 cup Ketchup
• ½ cup Honey Mustard (I prefer something with a little texture at least)
• ¾ cup Brown Sugar (I simply never remember to buy molasses, feel free to do so though)
• ¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
• 2 TBSP Orange Juice (you can use lemon or lime here too)
• 3 TBSP Worchestershire Sauce
• 1 TBSP good chilli powder (make your own, even if you have to order dried peppers, trust me)
• 1/2 TBSP chipotle powder
• 1/2 TBSP Cumin
• 1 TBSP coarsely ground Black Pepper corns)
• 1 tsp Kosher Salt
• Minced Garlic to taste (I used about half of a medium sized head)
• Minced Onion to taste
• One small minced pepper from the garden if ripe (Jalapeno)
-Ideally you have a mortar and pestle and you’re cracking your pepper then grinding the other spices in, either way mix all the spices.
-Saute your onion until it’s nice and sweaty then add your garlic and pepper. Once that’s heated up toss your spices into the oil and let the aroma fill the kitchen (and probably have your vent hood turned on.) Don’t let them burn.
-As that cooks mix the rest of your ingredients then toss them into the saucepan and cook on medium/low until it thickens to the consistency you want (up to about 20 minutes.)

This is a rich flavourful sauce that adds a reasonable amount of sweetness. Don’t overcook it on the grill or it WILL burn. I’m a particular fan of it on ribs but it’s also a worthy addition to grilled chicken, especially when served on a bun.
Alabama White
• ¾ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
• 1 ½ cups Mayonnaise
• 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
• 2 TBSP Coarse ground Black Pepper
• 1 TBSP Chili Powder
• 1 TBSP Cayenne
• 2 TBSP Mustard Powder

-Whisk together all the ingredients thoroughly then let stand in the fridge overnight to allow flavours to blend.

This is a sauce that is REALLY different. I recommend against having it as your only sauce for a get-together as some people simply won’t like it. That said I think it’s great on a shredded chicken sandwich and makes for a nice change from the same old same old. While some people say it works for pork I personally think the mayo aspect is a bit cloying with the silkier mouthfeel of pulled pork and I don’t really like it.

 

Whisky Peach Habanero
• 1 (or to taste) Habanero Pepper (for most, I use 2)
• 1 cup of finely chopped Onion (white or Vidalia)
• ~1 lb of peaches pitted and chopped
• 2 TBSP Brown Sugar
• 1 TBSP Cayenne
• Pinch of Salt
• ¼ Cup Jack Daniels Whiskey (or bourbon)
• ¼ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
• 2 tsp dry mustard
• 1 TBSP minced garlic

-Saute the onions in a splash of vegetable oil until softened then add your chopped pepper(s) NOTE: HAVE YOUR VENT HOOD ON IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO CHILI
-Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer them over medium heat for 20-30 minutes until the peaches have semi liquefied.
-Puree using an immersion blender (or cool and transfer to an upright blender) to desired consistency.

 

This one has a really interesting taste though it can overpower some of the flavour of the meat if you’re going for a delicate smokiness. That said I love it on saucy pulled pork and barbecued chicken.

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