Seasoned cooks all agree that barbecue is an all-American experience, stemming from the South, of turning raw meat into delectable dishes through marinating in a sauce of spices and grilling over charcoal, outdoors. That is the basics of a good barbecue, and truthfully, that is all that there is to it.
The sauce, which makes the meat moist and tender, is primarily made of three ingredients — vinegar, tomato puree, and/or ketchup. With these as staples, a seasoned cook can simply add or subtract as per taste and create a whole array of dishes differing in flavour.
Having said all that, it would be wrong to assume that the grilling experience is all but for the seasoned chef. Even for the rookies, there is much to explore and reap.
As alluded to earlier, the secret to a great BBQ lies in the sauce, and every seasoned cook has his/her own favourite concoction. That does not mean you need to exclude that easy store-bought BBQ sauce from the grocery list. The primary problem with store-bought sauce is in the sweetness of it, due to the high-fructose corn syrup. To override, add vinegar — apple cider vinegar is most commonly used, but you can even choose rice vinegar. You can look to citrus fruit for the desired acidity as well.
Every region of the United States has an answer to what constitutes the right BBQ sauce, but if left to us, we would suggest that the best blend is made that hits all the high notes, and is a harmonious combination of smoky, spicy, and sweet with a dash of vinegar to balance out the flavours.
Do you have ketchup, mustard and honey? Then try this.
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves.
To make this homemade BBQ sauce recipe, you will need the following ingredients —
Tomato sauce: Just puréed tomatoes, no extra ingredients.
Apple cider vinegar: To add some tang to the sauce.
Honey: We really prefer the taste of honey, but you could also substitute with brown sugar.
Tomato paste: To intensify the rich tomato flavour in this sauce.
Molasses: A must in Kansas City bbq sauce!
Spices: A combo of smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder and salt.
Combine the ingredients. Stir everything together in a saucepan, and bring the sauce to a simmer, then let it continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
This mustard BBQ sauce is a wonderful mix of sweet and tangy, and spicy. You get a level of tang from the mix of apple cider vinegar along with yellow mustard, which has a respectable level of tang on its own.
¾ cup yellow mustard
½ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
Pinch or more of cayenne
½ tsp salt
Dash of hot sauce
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add to a small pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Pour into a jar and cover. Refrigerate at least one day to let the flavours settle. To serve, warm it up in a small pot and get at it!
For the advanced
As for advanced, there is no boundaries. Never fear to experiment. The beauty of a sauce base is that you can change it if you are in the mood. There are many ways to vary the base, and then you get to add other ingredients to deepen it more, things like Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, garlic powder, or smoked paprika, or all of the above!
Grilling outdoors is an essential part of the barbecue, but not a necessary one. One can easily opt for doing it on a much smaller scale, indoors. However, it is quite understandable that the smoky, charred taste will be compromised to a great degree, but for the newbies, this is a start.
A grilling pan can serve the same purpose as a charcoal grill, sans the elaborate setting. In addition, a gentle nudge into the world of BBQ is all that is needed. With the right kind of sauce and meat, one is just steps away in turning out great dishes from basic raw ingredients.
— Recipes compiled by Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Food Styling: RBR