May 22, 2009

East Carolina BBQ Mop-Sauce Recipe: Kiss & Vinegar

Ribs ChefRibs are rich and fatty, and the best way to balance and cut the silky fatty mouthfeel is with acid. Along the coasts of North and South Carolina, "East" Carolina or the "Low Country", where barbecue probably began in the US, the locals figgered this out a long time ago. They developed a simple vinegar based sauce, probably the oldest BBQ sauce in the nation, to cut the fat and enhance the flavor. The original was probably just a kiss of hot peppers and vinegar, and some cooks use only those two ingredients to this day.

Low Country vinegar sauce is used on naked meat, without a rub, and it does double duty as both a mop and a sauce. A mop is brushed on the meat while it cooks to cool it and flavor it. Because it is so thin, it penetrates deep.

For people like me who love vinegar and a bit of heat, this simple sauce is all you need on a properly smoked slab. Many of you will find it a bit severe and will want to use it as a mop in place of a rub, finishing the slab with a thicker, sweeter, more conventional sauce.

Best of all, this stuff keeps forever in the fridge, so make a gallon.

Yield. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation time. About 30 minutes.

1 1/2 cups of distilled vinegar (do not use cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons sugar (white, light brown, or dark brown)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper

Do this
1) Pour all the ingredients into a jar and shake. Let it sit for at least 12 hours to allow the flavors to meld. A week is better. Mop it on the meat with this sauce with basting brush once every hour while cooking.

2) Take the remaining mop and boil it to sterilize it and give the meat one last splash before serving. To prevent contamination by uncooked meat, make sure to use a clean brush. Serve the sauce in a cruet on the side so your guests can drizzle more on if they wish.

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