Sunday, April 3, 2011

Barbecue sauce by halves

It's a glorious Spring day today.  After being surprised by snow a couple of weeks ago, 10C with the odd peek of sun is most welcome.  It wasn't that I was surprised that we got snow in mid-March; this is Southern Ontario after all.  It was how long it stuck around that surprised me.  There are still a few small patches of it in the yard!

Now that (I've declared) Spring is here, my thoughts turn naturally to... grilling and barbecue.  Of course.  Not that we don't use the grill in the winter, but now we start using it way more often.  It's right off the kitchen, just outside the back door, for maximum convenience.  And what has fired my flame kissed cooking fever today?  Burgers?  Not this time.  Steak?  Always, but not today.  Today it's ribs.  I found some on sale yesterday.  Big, meaty side ribs.  I bought two racks, had them split in two between the bones, seasoned them with an all purpose rub that I had made a while back for another pork application and popped them into the fridge overnight.

The rub is a simple blend of Kosher salt, brown sugar and various spices.  For pork I almost always use allspice.  Then there's garlic, onion, smoked paprika, a little ancho powder, fresh ground black pepper, dry mustard and cumin.  And maybe chili powder.  I forget.  It's balanced, flavourful, but not too complex or spicy (Little Mister doesn't care for spicy food yet).  I don't know that I ever make it the same way twice, as I tend to not really measure.

What I did measure was the ingredients for the sauce.  I took a look at a book by barbecue guru Steven Raichlen and found a simple ketchup based recipe for a Jack Daniel's sauce.  I don't have any J.D right now, but I do have dark rum.  So I used that, substituted molasses for the dark brown sugar, omitted the Worcestershire sauce (because I'm out of it), and of course, added allspice and a few other things to echo the flavours in the rub.  And the halves of this blog title?  Take a look at the recipe... 

1/2 C dark rum
1/2 C cider vinegar
1/2 C ketchup
1/2 C molasses
1/2 T dried onion flakes
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t granulated garlic
1/2 t liquid smoke (optional)
salt to taste

Combine everything in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by... you guessed it - HALF.  It will keep for a few months in the fridge.

It's not bad.  If I had the time and ingredients I would have maybe tried something a bit more complex, but for a simple sauce I quite like it.  It's not too sweet, not too tangy and not overwhelmingly tomatoey either (is that a word?)  It's not as spicy as I'd like, but again, deferring to the palates of the children it's just fine.  I think I'll be playing with it as the year goes on, changing the alcohol or the sweetener (whiskey maple maybe, or a nice strong beer and local honey) and the spices.  I love how versatile barbecue sauces are.  A little change here, a tweak there and suddenly you've got a whole new creation.

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