Go-To Barbecue Sauce

Summer 2016 will forever be known as the year of the egg.  Since the delivery of my Big Green Egg at the beginning of June, I have somewhat obsessively cooked at least some aspect of our weekly meals on it.  I have baked sourdough and crumbles, smoked meats, hot smoked fish, roasted four chickens at a time, cooked endless varieties of grilled vegetables and of course made many a traditional barbecue.

On the whole the clan has not been disappointed (apart from one rib debacle), however there are concerns about our sudden increased red meat consumption and subsequent fear of elevated cholesterol levels.

The new episode of outdoor cooking has also provided me with the perfect excuse for another sub category of cookbooks, which I have added to at a ferocious rate over the past few months.  So much so that the one of the cake plate shelves in the kitchen has been completely replaced with books (right up there at the top of the list of First World Problems).

This barbecue sauce is adapted from one of my favourites.  The Fette Sau book, Feeeding the Fire, from theBrooklyn eateryis in my top three of the new acquisitions, and a gift thanks to CD from Tennessee (he obviously knows best).  Joe Carroll has talked me through how to smoke and cook outside with confidence, and thanks to his dry rub, I need not try any other again.

Vast quantities of a variation of his Sweet Barbecue Sauce have been made throughout the summer.  It was first used to make brisket burnt ends, and was such a success, I made more to keep on hand and smother on top burgers, as the finishing touch on grilled chicken and even as the sauce for oven roast chickens on a rainy evening when we were all craving barbecue flavour.

I spent many years making Ina's recipe (which is delicious but a bit of a faff in comparison) but this is much easier, quicker, and made with items readily available in my overstocked larder.  My adaptations to the original Fette Sau recipe came somewhat by accident - mainly in an attempt to use up some classic condiments leftover from earlier in the year when, in a fit of nostalgia, I spent a few weeks frantically making my grandmothers pot roast recipe (coming soon).  Maybe I love this sauce so much as it has all the flavours of childhood Americana, or perhaps it is just that I have an excuse to keep stock of all those sauces whose packaging I love so much (despite the fact they contain all those ingredients we are constantly reminded to never ingest).

If you cannot get your hands on Heinz Chili Sauce, just use Ketchup like Joe Carroll tells us to.  And if you don't have molasses hanging around the house, again, just like Joe, use brown sugar.  The original recipe calls for both hard cider and beer (what is hard cider?) and there is always a few bottles of beer lurking in the back of the fridge.  Finally, when I need this to be vegan, I replace the Worcestershire Sauce with soy sauce (but a lot less soy or it is too salty).

 Barbecue Brislet burnt ends in a bun with spicy slaw. Photo Emma Parlons

Barbecue Brislet burnt ends in a bun with spicy slaw. Photo Emma Parlons

Sweet Barbecue Sauce Adapted from Feeding the Fire by Joe Carroll

500g (2 cups) Heinz Chili Sauce (or ketchup) 3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (or 1tbsp soy sauce for a vegan version) 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 4 tbsp beer (preferably Pilsner) 2 tbsp molases (or dark brown sugar) 2 tsp Colman’s mustard powder 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste) 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy bottom non reactive saucepan and stir together.  Simmer for about 45 minutes, whisking occasionally.  The sauce will thicken and go from a crimson ketchup colour to a rich mahogany as it cooks.

Allow to cool and transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate.  It will keep for up to a month if it lasts that long.