In Texas, there’s a 13th commandment: Thou shalt not smother a well cooked piece of meat in sauce. For a majority of my life, I fell victim to believing this rule of thumb. If you cook a filet or a chicken breast or maybe even a thick ‘chop, and if you cook it RIGHT, you won’t need steak sauce or barbecue sauce. The natural juices should provide all the flavor you’ll ever need or want. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, either. I mean, don’t tell me that I was the only person giving the side eye to the guy or gal drowning their steak in A1 sauce (Lea And Perrins was my personal favorite). The only time you would catch me even contemplating putting sauce on meat was if it was an overcooked steak that had no seasoning and tasted like cardboard. And even then, I might just tough it out like a real mountain man. But, contrary to popular (close minded) belief, sauce is not for the weak.
But barbecue, my friend…that’s a whole ‘nother world. When it comes to barbecue, sauce is a vehicle for possibility.
The basics of barbecue sauce
Barbecue sauce is just as much a part of barbecue as barbecue itself. I mean, the main styles of barbecue in the States are generally categorized by the type of sauce associated with that region (Texas, the Carolinas, Memphis, Kansas City). I won’t bore you with details, but I can assure you that Texas is the best out of those mentioned. Some sauces rely on tomatoes, vinegar, some with mustard while some heavily depend of molasses. I mean, you’ll definitely see a lot of sauces down here, some that their main purpose is to serve as a wetting agent while others provide additional flavor. Down here, the focus is directed on the meat itself. The rub and seasoning is the main vehicle for flavor.
You know those chocolate fountains the people have at weddings and baby showers? Yeah, I want one of those, but with barbecue sauce. I’ll have an assortment of different meats laid out for you to choose from. Some smoked chicken legs and wings. Oh, and some baby back ribs. Maybe some thick cut slabs of brisket. Hot links on a stick! Haha man, that’d be glorious. I’m going to have to figure out to make this happen for my birthday cookout or for the Super Bowl. All y’all are invited. You too. Just don’t bring that weird friend of yours. He creeps me out, man. But I digress…
You can’t go wrong with a good sauce to accompany your ‘cue. Luckily for y’all, I’m going to hook you up with a quick and simple recipe to help get you in the game. And the best part about it is that it’s easy. Like, dumb easy to make. It’s, what…six? Seven base ingredients? And most of it is stuff you probably already have in your pantry. Most of my barbecue sauces consist of: ketchup or tomato paste, sugar, onion and garlic powder, and apple cider vinegar.
Why make your own sauce?
You need a good sauce to accompany your ‘cue. A lot of the store-bought stuff is garbage (except for Deadeye BBQ Sauce). Having bleached hair and a flame shirt doesn’t necessarily mean you have what it takes to make a good sauce for some 8-hour ribs. I’m here to hook you up with a quick and simple recipe to get you in the game. And the best part about it is that it’s easy. Like, dumb easy to make.
For the more detail oriented bunch…
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
4-5 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Congratulations, you’ve made a sauce.
Make it your own
The best part about this recipe (or any great recipe), is that it’s open to interpretation. Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Coke or Dr. Pepper are some ingredients folks use to take their sauce up a notch. Instead of brown sugar, you can substitute white sugar, or even honey or maple syrup. You can add cayenne pepper or chipotle peppers to bring in some heat. Or, if you’re like me, you can booze it up a little with some nice craft beer or whiskey. If you add hooch to your sauce, throw it on the stove on a slow simmer to cut some of the punch out of it.
So there you go, comrades. A little bit of sauce talk to add to your resume. Real quick, let’s go back over the details: barbecue sauce is good, make your own when you can or use store bought in a bind, barbecue sauce fountains, and Dallas is full of egotistical pricks. Now, go forth and baptize yourself in the sauce, my friends.