Monday, July 06, 2009

Please Don't Buy BBQ Sauce

OK, let's be fair. There are some pretty awesome commercial barbecue sauces for sale. Arthur Bryant's comes to mind. And that special Alabama blend given to me by a good old boy.
But you're not going to find them at Safeway. Megamarkets carry sugary glop, and the sugar is high-fructose corn shit. (Shut my mouth!) They are oddly flavored with artificial smoke, bourbon, peaches, and all manner of stuff that doesn't belong in there.
Don't even get me started on ketchup.
I've always liked brewing my own barbecue sauce, and as recently as the most recent decade ago, I squirted ketchup into the mess for a sweet, tomatoey tang.
Ugh. All you taste is oil of clove.
I don't even have ketchup in my house anymore. I have homemade tomato sauce, frozen in little plastic bags.
So. How I do it: Marinate your pork spareribs in a good home-concocted marinade. (We are talking about ribs, right?) Then save the marinade, boil it down (to eliminate possible pathogens, to concentrate it, and to let the scum rise to be skimmed). At this point you should add tomato sauce or even tomato paste (I use both). A spoonful of honey. Tinker with the flavors. No mustard. I don't even bother with garlic. Let it cook into a beautiful, soupy slop.
You will love it.
Do not apply the barbecue sauce to the ribs until after they're cooked. You don't want blackened, bitter flakes. Ew. Just cook the meat lovingly, and then pass the sauce at the table.
Here's a rough approximation of my marinade: Equal portions of distilled white vinegar (hey, we're going the hick route, aren't we?) and — ohgod, I'm embarrassing myself here — vermouth. I used a highly botanical vermouth, and it adds tons of flavor. A little tomato sauce, but not too much because the sugars will burn in the grill (but meat loves to be tenderized in tomato). A terrific sploosh of Tapatío hot sauce (which reminds me of the Arthur Bryant's sauce). A drizzle of Worcestershire sauce, and an equal drizzle of soy sauce. Put this in a sealable plastic bag with the ribs, overnight in the fridge.
Next day, pull out the meat, save the juice, and follow the above guidelines.
It's good.

UPDATE: There is some discussion in the comments about whether this is a safe method for making sauce. I stand by my recipe, but I totally understand the concern. Use your discretion.


kudzu said...

Totally behind your crusade, but have one very big question. Can you back up the assertion that boiling the marinade makes it safe to use as sauce?

In the last couple of weeks I have been hearing a lot (a LOT) of buzz about this sort of thing -- like the flavored olive oil controversy with Bittman's recipe in NYT.

I'm on deadline and haven't the time for checking out the latest authoritative info on the marinade/sauce deal but would appreciate knowing!

PS The ribs are gorgeous.

Kailyn said...

Sorry but over the last week I have been enjoying a bottled sauce that is based upon the recipe that one of my dad's friends uses in his bbq place in Sacto.

Sam said...

I love June Taylor's Tomato Ketchup. Love is adore. But I don't think you would - it is clovier than anything.

As for BBQ sauce - that's not in my repertory - but I'll be sure to remember your words if it ever does make it there.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Oh, dear. No! I have no proof. I've just always given the marinade a good boil... Ain't dead yet.
(Is the controversy over Bittman's oil about garlic? I've heard that's a problem.)
Phooey. I hope I'm not poisoning anyone, and I don't have the scientific backup. I figure if you cook the meat you marinated, and don't die... you can cook the marinade.

Kailyn: Tell! What is the brand of this sauce?

cookiecrumb said...

Sam: I've been wanting to taste June Taylor's ketchup ever since you extolled it. I still might.
But what I really want to do is replicate your fantastic tomato chutney! (We bought a pressure canner.)

kudzu said...

Cookie: the Bittman controversy was over his not telling people to keep flavored oil refrigerated, and to use it within a week. Food safety folks also suggested not leaving flavored oil at room temp for more than 2 hours.

Simple solution to the marinade prob: just make a lot!! Then use non-meat-contaminated for sauce.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: You know what? Bingo! That is a perfect solution.

kudzu said...

I'll bet you KNEW I couldn't let this along (being Nancy Drew, and all). So I did a quick surfing and it appears that while many safety sources (university food safety departments, food licensers) say to definitely avoid re-using marinade as sauce, the FDA (often treated like Food Police) says that IF YOU BOIL THE MARINADE FOR A FULL MINUTE, you can use it as sauce. I'm still in favor of making more -- sometimes boiling those ingredients can have a neg effect on flavors.

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: Wait, I thought you were Brenda Starr!
I have to say --- Eeee! Thank you for the affirmation. I still like your idea of making extra marinade, though. Win-win.

Kailyn said...

The sauce is MacQue's -- the name of the bbq place in Sacto. It's been available for a few years at Sam's Club. As of a couple of weeks ago or so, it is now also available at the Nugget grocery store chain in Sacto. The promotion for this was that about two weeks ago, Mac grilled up something like 200 slabs of ribs for sale at one of the stores as well.

Chilebrown said...

Ah yes, home made barbeque sauce. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Kudzu has the right solution for sauce contamination.

The one thing that makes your barbeque, oh so special, is the Biggles Pit in your yard.

Lannae said...

BBQ, we are serious about our slow smoked BBQ around my part of the country. Dry rub, low and slow smoke, and enjoy. That is our recipe. :)

peter said...

Maybe you should make your sauce in an autoclave, just to be safe. Oh, and wear a straitjacket in case your arms flail and you poke your eye out.

That BBQ sauce is a baaaaad motha...

I can dig it.

Ilva said...

Genial! (that was French but forget where the accent is supposed to be!) You and Pat rock! xx

dancingmorganmouse said...

Cookie, I stand by your calculation re safety, if it hasn't killed you it's just fine and dandy.
I'm fussy about sauce, almost sandwich-level fussy!

Anna Haight said...

Sauce is important! Even more so if you are bringing flavor to something like seitan!

The Spiteful Chef said...

I know you already addressed this in your update, but if salmonella bacteria get heated higher than 170 F, they die instantly. So by BOILING, even for 15 seconds, you've killed the hardest to kill of the lot.

Plus, if you get killed by boiled barbecue sauce in your own home, nature is trying to tell you something.

I use ketchup in my BBQ sauce, but only as a backup ingredient. I use a lot of molasses, dry mustard, brown sugar, Frank's Red Hot, cider vinegar, and garlic powder. And it's pretty fantabulous.

Kevin said...

You're right. Boiling the sauce makes it completely safe because pathogens are killed after just a couple of minutes at 160 degrees F. You're not only cooking at a higher temp (212) but for a longer time. The sauce is actually safer than the meat you slather it on.

cookiecrumb said...

Kailyn: OK! Thank you. If I'm out that way, I'll look for some. I bet Chilebrown would like to taste it, too.

Chilebrown: I was gazing at that very spot in the yard as we ate our ribs. It is holy. (It *was* holey.)

Lannae: I realize there's no messin' with perfection. I like a slow smoke, too, but since we're living in tighter quarters, we tend to do a quick smoke in a covered Weber, and then finish them in the oven. So as not to smoke out the neighbors.

Peter: Shut your mouth!
It was safe. I was wearing a cup.

Ilva: We aren't fighting! I appreciate Pat's vast experience in the world of food. I'm just floating on the surface, so whenever she brings new knowledge to me, I like it.

Mouse: ::sigh:: Now I'm going to have to find out what "sandwich-level fussy" is. :D

Anna: Seitan? {Hey, who let Anna in here? She's talking about seitan.}

Spiteful: I really dig the backup from you cooking school grads. Thanks for the science.
Your sauce sounds great. But I'm just going after something less sweet.

Kevin: Thanks! I actually thought about that -- the sauce is safer than the meat. Ha ha! (Yeah, it was boiled for a "while.")

Greg said...

It looks like barbecue sauce is like religion and politics in conversation.

Kailyn said...

I just read the label on the sauce out of curiosity. It contains some high fructose corn syrup because that is one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce. The sauce is sweetened with molasses and brown sugar though.

I may be heading to Sacto this weekend. Mild for you? I think Chilebrown would want the stuff that is carried at the restaurant that Mac calls his 5150 sauce.

Zoomie said...

I'm hard to kill - bring on the meaty marinade and damn the consequences!

kudzu said...

Wow, I feel like I opened such a can of worms. At least we've had a summery heated discussion!

Peter: bite your tongue, you sassy man.

Zoomie: you've the right attitude.

Ilva said...

Oh but I never thought you and Pat were fighting CC, I love you two because you came up with such good solutions! as if I would like when people fight and disagree...

Cherie said...

Im with you- store bought BBQ sauce is bunk. Your concoction sounds and looks fantastic. Nice work dear...Ill have to try whipping up some of that marinade myself.


Rev. Biggles said...

No garlic? Awwwww.

I love ketchup. I need it for fries and hotdogs.

I don't wash my raw chicken.

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: And we haven't even gotten to the sex yet!

Kailyn: I'm not afraid of a little heat. :)

Zoomie: Amen, sister.

Kudzu: I love it. I get a lot of comments when you and I squabble. XXX!

Ilva: All the credit goes to Pat, who is indeed genial. Merci.

Cherie: I'm known for my "sour tooth," so I like the vinegar from the marinade to go into the sauce.

Biggles: Don't wash your chicken! You'll get germs in your sink!!

Rev. Biggles said...

MmMmmMmM germs.

Sam said...

woah. Worcestershire Sauce has HFCS in it. I would never have thunk it. I just checked in the fridge. It's horribly true.

Sweet Bird said...

I love vermouth.

Also, I had an interesting conversation with the produce guy at the commissary today about how they will no longer carry any alfalfa sprouts because of the risk of salmonella.

My response? "We all get sick somehow." He agreed.

If I'm going to keel over and die from some kind of food borne pathogen, I at least want it to be from something tasty and fresh. Not friggin' tainted peanut butter in some nasty-ass processed cookie product.

cookiecrumb said...

Biggles: I dare you to lick your refrigerator handle.

Sam: It is so horribly true; Kailyn was right. BUT I have a recipe for homemade Worcestershire sauce that uses sugar. I haven't tried it yet but you know I will.

Sweet Bird: Try Vya extra dry vermouth if you're into extreme botanicals. It's made by Quady Winery in Madera, so it's local (as long as *you're* local).
Also, have you grown your own sprouts? Dead easy, pardon the dead joke.

Rev. Biggles said...

Done. Next!

cookiecrumb said...

Biggles: Next? Howzabout a germy kiss?

cook eat FRET said...

friends don't let friends buy bbq sauce

cookiecrumb said...

Fret: Yup. And it's fun to be creative and make your own!