Bold & Brawny Barbecue Sauce

Ah, barbecue. Was there ever a word in the culinary realm that had so many meanings, not to mention cause for so passionate of debates?

While most of us throw the word around as a verb, adjective and noun – as a cooking method, type of food eaten and the apparatus with which to cook said food, respectively – to others it’s cause for fiery remarks as to what is “real” barbecue when it comes style of both recipe and cooking method.

I’m not going to step into that hornet’s nest today. Instead I’m here to share a sauce. A barbecue sauce. A sauce that, no matter what position you take on all things barbecue, I think you’ll enjoy.

Of course, even the sauce used in food that is said to have been “barbecued” – the term so often used for grilling or charbroiling – is a candidate for debate. Many of us are familiar with a tomato-based sauce that is sweet, sour and spicy. Other parts of the U.S. of A enjoy theirs with a foundation of mustard, vinegar and even mayonnaise.

In my book, they’re all tasty. What follows here, though, is a tomato-based version (ketchup, actually, which is of course based on tomatoes). It’s so easy to make that gathering ingredients might just take longer than actually cooking it.

All it takes is some measuring, stirring, pouring and heat. Ten minutes after that, you will have a sauce that is so ridiculously good you won’t believe how easy it was to make in the first place.

This version is more sour than sweet, but I’ve noted a way to make it less so if you like a sweeter sauce. In addition to it tasting better than any barbecue sauce you’ve ever had from a bottle, this stuff is a lot cheaper, too. While a 14-ounce bottle of premium sauce can easily cost $5 or more, the few dollars it takes to make this version will make an entire quart.

So light those grills, grab some meat, and put on your chef’s apron: We’re gonna ‘cue up some serious sauce.

Bold & Brawny Barbecue Sauce
(Makes 32 ounces)

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (use 1.5 if you want a sweeter sauce)
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plain yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic granules or powder
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onions (optional)
  • Music to make it by: A bold sauce calls for bold tunes: Metallica’s self-titled rocker from 1991.

Step 1: Phew: Who knew it took so many ingredients to make a sauce? Good news is, getting them all together was the hardest part. I like to use finely diced onions since it adds flavor and texture. If you go for them, cut them as small as possible.

Step 2: Dump everything into a saucepan that’s 2 quarts or bigger. The heavier the pot, the better. Turn the heat to medium and whisk or stir everything together really well. Stir about every minute as the sauce comes to a simmer – where small bubbles just penetrate the surface – and then turn the heat to low.

Step 3: Now all you have to do is simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes with a wooden or plastic spoon (so as not to mar your pot), and be sure to scrape the bottom.

Congratulations: You’ve just made a barbecue sauce that would make a cowboy cry in joy. Wasn’t that a snap? This sauce is incredible served hot or cold. It is also wonderful basted on meat as it grills. If you do so, baste when there are only a few minutes left on the grill, and remember to never use sauce on cooked meat that earlier came into contact with uncooked meat. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, but I doubt it will last that long.

Did you try this recipe? Write about your experience, ask questions or share advice in the comments area below.

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1 Comment »

  1. krissi said,

    June 17, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

    Mmmmmm! This sauce is INCREDIBLE! The batch we made had just kept going and going: we’ve had it on ribs in the crock pot, chicken on the grill and used it for hamburgers and hotdogs. I’ve had plenty of bbq both meat and sauce in my life, in ‘authentic’ places like KS, TX, and Grandpa’s backyard (the most authentic of all), but I have to say this sauce totally beats them ALL!

    I love the sourness of it, and was surprised, since usually I go for the sweeter versions!

    WOW! You knocked it outta the park on this one!


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