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Thursday, June 16, 2022

What is BBQ sauce made of?

Another food post? You betcha! I have been craving some BBQ sauce, normally I'd just grab a bottle from the condiments section at the store, I don't eat it enough to warrant keeping a supply at the SkyCastle, it just goes bad before I can finish it... So as I was saying, I normally just grab a bottle from the store and run with it. And by running, I mean I soup it up. I add my own touches to it, adding extra honey is my go-to touch up. 

Since I'm striving to eat healthier, one of the things I'm working to cut out of my "diet" is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I just watched a mini-documentary on YouTube about what a minefield that substance is for your body. Wellllll, no matter what bottle of BBQ sauce I pick up in the store, everyone of them have HFCS as one of the top ingredients, if not the number one ingredient.  Why oh why do the food companies do that to us??? 

I could have gone over to the healthfood store, I'm sure I would have found a healthier bottle of BBQ sauce, I'm also sure it would have been a pricy little bottle, and no guarantees I would have liked it, or worse, if I did really like it, I would have been stuck liking something harder to find and expensive. 
So my next thought, I wonder what BBQ sauce is made from, I'm a pretty good cook, I even make my own mayonnaise (commercial mayo smells like rancid oil to me now), surely I could make BBQ sauce, how hard could it be? 

Sidestory, I didn't tell you before, but I grew up in a family BBQ joint. My uncle Marvin and my dad had the business, I did my tour of duty working there, got pretty good at trimming brisket, I still have the scar on my thumb to prove it. 

I learned a lot about making great smoked meats, but the BBQ sauce, well that was my uncle's secret, I don't know if he ever shared the recipe, he always made it himself. That combined with the fact that we were BBQ snobs, we always said properly cooked meat doesn't need a sauce, you only needed sauce to cover up medeocre BBQ... But if you felt that you wanted a sauce, my uncles BBQ sauce was top notch. 

Back to yesterday, I'm standing in the condiments section of the store, picking up, reading the label, and putting back bottle after bottle of BBQ sauce, I'm sure I picked each bottle twice, hoping the HFCS would vanish from the ingredient list... No such luck. 

I decided to consult chef Google, doing a quick search for homemade BBQ sauce. I didn't need a full recipe, I just needed a guideline, the basics of what goes into BBQ sauce. I read a couple of recipes and had all the information I needed. Turns out BBQ sauce is pretty simple, it's basically a sweetened smoky flavored ketchup, the main ingredient is a can of plain tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce), the plainer, the better, then tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, a few spices, a quick simmer on the stove and voila, almost instant BBQ sauce. 

I was missing liquid smoke, paprika, and a couple of other spices,  but for me, that's part of the fun, the challenge is to make something from what I have on hand or can get now where I am... and one of my challenges is the fact that I'm shopping in a dollar store (the company I work for services dollar stores) and I just don't want to go over to the grocery store. I did find a spice blend that had most of the flavors I needed so I grabbed that too. McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning

Once I got home, I told PB about my idea to make my own BBQ sauce and he couldn't wait to try it. I don't have a recipe for this that I can exactly write down for you, I tend to cook by the seat of my pants, adjusting as I go. I'll do my best to explain my process. 

It started out with a 15oz can of tomato sauce, half a can of tomato paste, I poured in some apple cider vinegar, it was probably around 3/4 of a cup, I think next time I'll add less, it was a tad too vinegery for my tastes, if you like the Kansas City style, you'd love it! I dumped in around a half cup of brown sugar, I wish I had some honey to add, I really love that flavor in BBQ sauce. Next came a generous few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 3-4 tablespoons at least, next a few tablespoons of the powdered spice mix. I mixed this with a whisk in a heavy sauce pan, I brought it to a boil, then let it slow simmer, stirring often for about 20-30 minutes. 

Like a lot of things, the longer you simmer it, especially low and slow, the better it tastes, the raw vinegar taste mellowed out, and everything else had a chance to get friendly with each other. 

By then the breaded chicken strips in the oven were done, I know I mentioned eating healthier, no judging ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚...  The BBQ sauce turned out very tasty. We have eaten it on several occasions now (several days later), on both chicken strips and smoked sausage. It made enough to mostly fill 2 one quart canning jars, one of which has already been fully consumed. I purchased another can of tomato sauce with the intention of making another batch. 

What will I do differently next time? I'll go easier on the vinegar, perhaps a half cup, I might even measure it LOL, I'll look around to see if I have any honey, I might need to buy another jar, that's something that I don't mind cheaping out on since it's not medicinal or anything like that, it's just for flavor in a sauce that will be consumed in short order. 

Everything else about the BBQ sauce came out great, I'm very happy with my first attempt, and I know it will just get better and better each time I make it, and the best part, no HFCS! 

Have you ever tried making your own BBQ sauce? If so, what is your recipe? Let me know if you try this or already do it, bon Appรฉtit! 

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