May 22, 2009

Kansas City Classic BBQ Sauce Recipe

"I've been in more laps than a napkin." Mae West

Kansas City Classic SauceClassic Kansas City sauces are brass bands with multiple layers of flavors, sweets, and heats. Because they are thick, they sit on top of the meat, not penetrating very much. A KC sauce can afford to have big bold flavors because the meat flavors will not be masked unless you use too much. Click here for saucing strategies.

There are a lot of ingredients, but they are easy to assemble and each contributes complexity. There are multiple sources of sweetness (brown sugar, molasses, honey, and onion, which gets sweet when it is cooked); multiple sources of tartness (vinegar, lemon juice, hot sauce, and steak sauce); multiple sources of heat (chili powder, black pepper, mustard, and hot sauce); and it gets layers of flavor from all the above as well as ketchup, Worcestershire, garlic, and salt. It's not a KC Masterpiece, but it is a KC Classic. Try it and you'll never use the bottled stuff again.

Yield: 6 cups. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup yellow ballpark-style mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup steak sauce
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons cooking oil or butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
1 cup dark brown sugar (you can use light brown sugar if that's all you have)

Optional. If you are cooking your ribs indoors, or if your meat does not have a lot of smoke flavor, or if you just want more, you can add 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke.

About the chili powder. Not all chili powders are created equal. Many of the common grocery store chili powders are lifeless and dumbed down for the Anglo consumer. Buy your chili powder from a Mexican grocer or online.

Secret ingredient. Add 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste. This exotic ingredient isn't really that exotic. It shows up on the ingredient lists of a lot of great BBQ sauces. It has a sweet citrusy flavor and really amps up a sauce. If you can't find it in an Asian grocery, it is available online. Worth looking for.

Do this
1) In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, black pepper, and salt. In a large bowl, mix the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, lemon juice, steak sauce, molasses, honey, and hot sauce.

2) Over medium heat, warm the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and saute until limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Crush the garlic, add it, and cook for another minute. Add the dry spices and stir for about 2 minutes to extract their oil-soluble flavors. Add the remaining wet ingredients and then the brown sugar. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes with the lid on.

2) Taste and adjust. Add more of anything that you want a little bit at a time. It may taste a bit vinegary at first, but that will be less obvious when you use it. Strain it if you don't want the chunks of onion and garlic. I prefer leaving them in. They give the sauce a home-made texture. You can use it immediately, but I think it's better when aged overnight. You can store it into clean bottles in the refrigerator for a month or two.

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