A few years back, I decided it would be fun to have a barbecue sauce contest at the family gathering for Father's Day. My eldest son was really into the barbecue thing so having everyone bring their own concoction of sauce to go with the meat has made for a lot of fun. I'll be the Pit Mistress and each participant must bring their homemade sauce in a jar, secretly marked A,B C etc. Then my Dad is the judge, tasting and grading each sauce on a variety of merits. I guess I got the idea from watching all those barbecue competitions on TV. My talented daughter-in-law is the reigning champion.
Putting a sauce together isn't as complicated as smoking the meat; sauce has endless variations. Ketchup and vinegar seem to be the most common ingredients, but as you know, mustard and brown sugar are popular too. The religion of barbecue has many denominations and there are quite a few published "bibles". There's ketchup base, mustard base, vinegar base, bourbon, coffee, sweet, hot, chili, molasses, brown sugar, Asian, Hawaiian, Korean, Brazilian, Texas, Memphis, Carolina and Kansas to name just a few. Everybody seems to get into the creative aspect and it can get pretty experimental with weird ingredients thrown in. So 'n so's "original" sauce has a new meaning but the main ingredient is fun. There's something new out of Alabama called "the white sauce". It's mayo based and my son says it's quite good. I'm thinking I'll do some homework on that one for the contest. Somebody send me a recipe if you've got it.
The history of barbecue is as various as the types, but it comes down to meat cooked slowly over low fire (fuel varies) and barbecues have always been social events, remember Scarlett and Rhett first met at a barbecue. The historical image I prefer, is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Pigs where plentiful and low maintenance animals that where slowly cooked with the only condiments available; vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard. Mustard based sauce is native to the Carolina's but the recipes vary county to county. Barbecue shacks are tucked away on back roads and there have been quite a few magazine articles recently on the "barbecue trails" in the South. Sounds like a fun road trip to me.
I just wish I had one of those fancy automatic smokers. I'll be sweating it out with the best of the Pit Masters next weekend.
- Recipes & Random Thoughts
- I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.