Friday, November 5, 2010

More Than You Ever Wanted to Hear One Man Talk About BBQ Sauce.

Before I got going with last night's cooking, I was talking with a friend of mine about, what else, food. He happened to bring up two things that wedged themselves in that part of your brain that makes the "Mmmmmmmm" sound happen: potatoes and BBQ sauce.

It's Friday, it's been a long week blogging, so I gotta be honest, I'm not really in the mood to cook this evening. But dammit, potatoes and BBQ sauce. Mmmmmm. This evening is gonna be BBQ'ed seitan sandwiches and french fries.

One thing I learned a while ago was that different people have very different ideas about what a good BBQ sauce is. I'm from the Midwest, the home of the delicate palate, we make BBQ sauce that most the rest of the country would call ketchup. Other folks like their BBQ sauce sour, like lip-puckeringly so. Others like it spicy, and, well, I think you get the idea.

Rather than really trying to learn a good BBQ sauce recipe, I learned how to make kind of a proto-BBQ sauce. It's just kind of a rough sketch that hints at BBQ; you get to fill in the details with whatever you want depending on your mood that day.

I think this is the first recipe I'm going to share during the Month of Food, so this is your first opportunity to learn about what happens when a guy that doesn't follow recipes tries to make a recipe. So now you've been forwarned and we can continue.

For starters, you're going to need some onions. 1/2 a large onion will probably do you nicely. Chop those and a whole lot of garlic. We love garlic in this house so we tend to overdue it, but I don't think you can legally call it BBQ sauce if it doesn't have at least some garlic, so be sure that you put at least a clove in a sauce pan and sauté with some oil until it looks about right to you.

Next, you take one large can of crushed tomatoes, about 1/4 cup of molasses, and about 1/3 cup of vinegar and dump 'em in the sauce pan with some salt, to taste.

Next? Do whatever you're heart says is the right thing. You're probably going to need a pinch or two of sweetener. I've gotten good results with maple sugar, straight up maple syrup, or any kind of unbleached sugar. Beyond that, really, you should feel free to go wild. I've tried hot peppers (dried and fresh), nutritional yeast, lime juice, freshly ground black pepper; whatever sounds good can work.

Heat things up 'til it starts to simmer, then simmer the snot out of it. Here's the secret: the fact that it needs to simmer for a while gives you plenty of time to taste what you've got and adjust things as you go along. I try to let it simmer for as long as possible, but I usually cave after about an hour or so because it smells so good. If you like your BBQ sauce chunky, you're done. I like to put it in the food processor and smooth things out a bit.

So, what does the Wife think? Fresh BBQ sauce is easily better than anything you can buy at the store. It was a little on the thin side, consistency-wise, but it was definitely really good. Ooh, and there's more left for later? Great!

By the way, the recipe above is going to make a lot of sauce, so be sure to have some friends over to help you!

1 comment: