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In California, with our year round favorable weather, it’s never too late to barbecue. Most weekends the fall weather remains warm and outside dining is extremely enjoyable.
Barbecue sauces are invariably popular. Many cooks and backyard chefs like to devise their own. Barbecue sauces impart assertive flavors and give meat a delightful color, which are two excellent reasons to add barbecue sauces to your repertoire.
I have followed recipes in books but have yet to create my own distinctive blend of ingredients.
Recently, I read an informative article and feel ready to tackle the challenge of making my own. Here are some of the tips I learned that might help you get started if you also want to experiment.
First, decide the type of flavor you want to predominate in your sauce. Don’t overload your sauce with too many flavors. Select only one or two flavors from the following categories: tart, sweet, salty, spicy or tomato.
If you want to feature a sour or tart flavor use lemon juice, lime juice, plain vinegar or flavored vinegar.
For a sweet tasting sauce use brown sugar, honey, hoisin sauce, corn syrup, molasses, fruit pieces or a fruit purée.
If you want a salty flavor use flavored salts.
For a hot and spicy flavor there are numerous choices. Add ground chipotle pepper, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder and cumin.
Or use paprika, fennel seeds, onion powder, ginger, white pepper, coriander seeds, cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, basil or oregano to add a zing.
For a tomato flavored base use ketchup, tomato paste, tomato juice or chili sauce.
Basic barbecue sauce by my brother-in-law Dave: 1 cup ketchup, ½ cup finely chopped onion, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup margarine or butter, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
Heat everything except lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce to boiling. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. This is the basic sauce to which you can add the variations that you would like. Since it has lemon juice and ketchup you don’t want to add anything from those categories, but you could experiment by adding from the other categories.
My brother-in-law has added the seasonings of sage, garlic, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning and the accent of vinegar to vary the basic sauce. He has used the sauce on both pork ribs and chicken with success.
Another way I use to know what flavors I might like in a marinade I’m creating, is to check the label of a sauce I know I like. Experiment with those ingredients. You aren’t going to know the exact amounts of the ingredients that you will need, but at least by checking the order of ingredients in a barbecue sauce you like, you’ll know the order from the greatest to the smallest amount.
Here’s the chance for you to be creative. Just follow the basic sauce. Add that one favorite ingredient that you absolutely can’t live without and know it will accent the food that you are going to barbecue.
Some last-minute tips. Give your sauce plenty of time to simmer and stir frequently. Some sauces need as much as two hours for flavors to marry.
Need I say, barbecue sauces are messy. To help with that problem and the problem of sticking, spray your grate with vegetable cooking spray before heating. The food won’t stick as much and the gunk will scrape off easier. If you keep a water bottle handy, it will help with flare-ups.
Sauces that contain a lot of sweetness will burn quickly. Apply these sauces within the last few minutes of cooking and you will avoid excessive burning.
Here are some possible add-ins to bottled barbecue sauces Kraft suggests that can improve a store-bought variety. These additions can make the sauce distinct and homemade. Try one of these additions to bottled barbecue sauce: 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder; 4 ounces chopped green chilies, drained; 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons mustard and 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes.