Monday, February 18, 2008

Condiment of the Week: BBQ Sauce

Nothing makes a grown man's eyes light up like the mention of something barbequed, but most often BBQ sauce is very lacking. Too many BBQ sauces are bland, too thick, or too liquid. While many different styles exist (Kansas City, Memphis, Texas etc.) they all have some things in common. A little bit of heat, a tangy citrus sweetness, and usually a little bit of smokiness. Many people have a recipe that has been handed down for years, but I want to first concentrate on the store bought kind because for many, actually creating home made BBQ sauce is a bit much to ask. Amazingly, many people buy the awful Kraft and supermarket brand BBQ that generally consists of a single flavor (honey, smoke, garlic) and are the consistency of too thick ketchup. I would only use these strictly for a marinade to get BBQ flavor, but never as a dipping sauce or a bas While there are some lesser-known brands, my three favorites include Stubb's, Bulls Eye and KC Masterpiece. Of the three, I actually like KC Masterpiece the best. It's easy to find in most stores, and has a nice sweet and smoky flavor with just a touch of heat. Stubb's is a little more spicy and vinegary, but I find it better for marinating and basting than actually using it like a sauce.

The best BBQ sauce usually is the one you make yourself. I remember watching Bobby Flay blind taste test a number of different sauces and could pick out his own home made version without flinching, which I still to this day find very impressive. While Bobby's recipe had a lot more heat and depth of flavor than your standard BBQ, most home made versions include the basics - vinegar, ketchup, water, onion, mustard (in some form) and brown sugar. Depending on how you like your BBQ, sometimes you will also find chipotle, honey and garlic. Personally, the best home made, and probably the best period, BBQ sauce is my friends’ mom's family recipe. Every time I go over for dinner I ask if BBQ sauce will be served, even if it is totally unrelated to the dish. If I could I'd put the sauce on her lasagna and salads, it's just that good. A thinner consistency than store bought, with small lumps of what I think is onion, it has an amazing combo of sweet, spicy and something else that I just can never put my finger on. The vinegar is very subdued, but you catch hints of it depending on what you eat it with. If she could bottle the stuff, I'd invest in that business in a second.

B-B-Q = Heaven

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