Barbecue (And a Sauce Recipe)

BBQ RibsMy sister-in-law, Tough Yankee Broad, spent the last week visiting a girlfriend and her husband who have moved to Missouri.  They took her out to eat several times, mostly to eat barbecue (the husband is big on barbecue apparently).  Our conversation (via Yahoo IM) went like something this:

TYB:  They sure are big on BBQ out there, and so is M – personally I don’t care if I see anymore BBQ sauce till Labor Day – and that might just be too soon.

Me:  ROFLMAO – I miss barbecue!

TYB:  For me, a little BBQ sauce goes a long way and the places we went to seemed determined that the chicken had to drown in the stuff before it was cooked and then eaten!  It was like it had simmered in in a gallon of sauce.

At that point I went, well, ballistic.  If you think I’m picky about chili, you haven’t seen anything until I go off on a tangent about barbecue.  I once wrote an email to a restaurant that claimed to have “authentic Texas barbecue” (because, excuse me, it wasn’t) that was apparently so scathing they took the claim off of their menu.

Just to be perfectly clear, barbecue is not a sauce; it’s a method of cooking. The sauce is almost incidental.  To whit, the definition of barbecue that is accepted by most authorities is “meat or other foods, cooked in close proximity to a fire of coals or wood, usually with a sauce applied.”   Note that it does not say “always” (to say nothing of “drowned in sauce”); in fact, I’ve had some damn fine barbecue meat only dressed with a dry rub or even just plain, with a little sauce served on the side if you want it.  Even then, the sauce is usually not applied until the last 15 minutes or so of cooking – any good barbecue sauce is going to contain sugar (but not too much) and/or tomatoes.  The sugar will burn and tomato can become bitter with long cooking.

Barbecue purist say you can’t call it barbecue unless it’s slow-cooked in a pit all day, but most of us are not quite that stringent (who wants to have to dig a pit in their back yard?) – a barbecue grill is certainly sufficient.  Having said that, if you have a gas grill you’re stretching it – real barbecue should be cooked over a wood embers or charcoal.

As I mentioned earlier, unless you’re a Kansas City Barbecue fan (and I won’t hold it against you if you are…you poor thing), barbecue sauce isn’t supposed to be real sweet.  It should have a good tang to it, and if you’re a hot head it’s perfectly okay for it to have a some kick.  If you’re going for a bottled sauce, the original Sweet Baby Ray barbecue sauce is pretty good, although a tad on the sweet side (they also make some damn fine marinades/mopping sauces that the barbecue  sauce compliments wonderfully), but if you want to make your own, this one is pretty damn good.  It lends itself well to modification, too, and makes a ton.  The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, but I tend to object to mint in barbecue sauce.  But give it a whirl, if you want.

Barbecue Sauce

3 cups chopped onion

1/4 cup honey

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup chopped, fresh parsley

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 cups ketchup

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, at lowest simmer, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Slow cooking is the secret of this sauce. If your sauce should become too thick, thin it with a little white wine.

14 thoughts on “Barbecue (And a Sauce Recipe)”

  1. My husband will want to try making this recipe since he loves stuff like this. I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

    You’re more than welcome, ma’am! If he tries it, let me know what he thinks.

    Loris last blog post..Fresh Eye’s

  2. I HAVE A WITNESS! Jeez, I don’t come from particularly stringent BBQ territory, but even a numbskull like me knows its a method not a sauce! Well played, Jan.

    It needed to be said. A little sauce can be fine, but too much or inappropriately applied usually means compensating for inferior meat or cooking.

    Pork or beef?
    Dry or wet?

    Or is it all good if done right? 🙂

    It’s pretty much all good if done right. As for meat, any kind will do (I know people who barbecue whole turkeys), and in south Texas, kid – baby goat, not human children – is popular (I’ve eaten it; it’s quite tasty). The exception to that rule is boneless, skinless chicken breasts – I have yet to barbecue one that doesn’t come out like shoe leather. Barbecue chicken really should have the skin and bones.

    Irish Gumbos last blog post..A Friendly Interrogation, cIII Style – Part Deux

  3. I’m not really a fan of barbeque, but John loves the stuff. I may have to horn in on one of his meals soon to see what all the fuss is about.

    Horn in, horn in! There’s nothing quite so good as real Texas barbecue, but then I have something of a prejudice about it. If you couldn’t tell.

    Sprite’s Keepers last blog post..Onslaught

  4. MHS loves BBQ and chili. Making either is not my strong suite. I’m a purist at heart when it comes to cooking and feel that if I’m going to do it, I have to do it right. I don’t know how to do these “right”. *sigh* I need a real Texan to come to Florida to show me how to make these delicacies. Any ideas where I might find someone like that? *wink*

    I know a real Texan who would LOVE to come to Florida and cook for you. Especially at this time of year.

    Damn you mortgage and bills, that keep me chained to this employment thing!

    Smart Mouth Broads last blog post..A LOVE STORY……The Second Time Around

  5. This is an ongoing discussion at my house. In the South barbeque is a METHOD OF COOKING. In California it is something you do. You HAVE A BARBEQUE (not a “cook out”). In some parts of the country it’s anything w/the sauce on it. We BARBEQUE at least once a week year round here and much, much more in the nonwinter months.

    Duly noted! (Of course, the South is where barbecue originated, so we’re right 😛 ) We never “cook out” either, but have a barbecue. And it’s been too damn long since we’ve had one, if you ask me.

  6. I second the motion that its been far too long since there’s been a cookout there, at least, one I attended. Of course, Im quite excited at the fact that I’ll get to barbecue at our house now. Time to get the grill ready.

    I also agree, a smoker is definitely in order. You MUST get one.

    Hey, kiddo – you have the barbecue (or cookout, you Ohioan you LOL) and I’ll bring the sweet potato salad and apple pie (you can have a small piece).

    I think you’ve attended every cookout/barbecue we’ve ever had, though. It’s been a long time.

  7. All y’all, the secret’s in the sauce!

    LOL – not really it is a method not a sauce and not an appropriate verb if you are grilling burgers and franks! But I do remember that anomaly from Cali.

    TC- YES it has been too long, but next time it’s at your house – I’ll even bring the Ta-Kill-Ya and a house warming gift! Hint Hint! 😉

  8. I’m a barbecue purist. NO sauce for me, thank you. I prefer to let the meat do the talking. I prefer that as it pertains to food too. *wink*

    LMAO – you are a piece of work, girl. But yes, I certainly understand what you’re saying here. 😉

    Midlife Slicess last blog post..May I Please Buy A Vowel?

  9. I could use a little slow cooking today, this sounds fabulous for this Yankee girl transplanted to the south.

    Oh, how I envy you your southern transplant…ation? (Is that a word?) Is it warm enough there in Georgia to fire up the grill?

    Tricias last blog post..Looking for Treasure

  10. In hawaii, barbeque refers to the method of cooking and is usually Korean food. Or hulihuli chicken. What we haoles think of with sauce, they call “country style bbq.”

    I’m a big fan of bbq with sauce myself. Growing up, on my birthday, I always asked for my mom’s ribs. I would love to go to Texas and do a diner roadtrip and eat BBQ, chili, and TexMex.

    I make ribs and make a differnet sauce everytime. I’m going to try yours next time Jan. Everything I have made from your recipes was delicious.

    Oh, I LOVE Korean food and hulihuli chicken (Beloved and I kid around all the time about selling the business and just chucking it all so we can move to Hawaii and be beach bums). I’m so thrilled you try my recipes and like them! I have a recipe for blackened, seared ahi with a mango salsa I plan posting once the weather warms up a bit and I have more access to the necessary ingredients that you may like. But try the barbecue sauce – it’s nice and tangy!

    Pseudos last blog post..Spin Cycle: Change

  11. Well SIL – I’m very late in getting here but better late than never! I rolled when I “re-read our conversation” until my tummy turned at the thought of the chicken swimming in a gallon of sauce.

    I’m convinced – next time I go to Texas….. oh and I’m taking you with me!

    And this summer (if it EVER gets here) I’ll get brave and try your sauce…..SPARINGLY as suggested and as I like!

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