May 22, 2009

Simple Sweet-Sour Slaw Recipe

In the South there are two kinds of slaw and the rivalry is as savage as Clemson vs. South Carolina: Sweet-sour and creamy. This sweet-sour is so simple and quick. And delish. Proceed to this page if you prefer creamy.
Recipe

Yield. 10 small servings
Prep time. 20 minutes
Let it sit. At least 1 hour in the fridge if possible

Ingredients for the slaw
1 pound green cabbage (about half a medium cabbage)
1 large carrot, peeled
1 small white onion
1/2 bell pepper, any color

Optional. 3 radishes, red or white, hot if you like
Optional. 1 small jalapeño if you like it hot

Ingredients for the dressing
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds (not celery salt)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (corn oil or salad oil mix are good choices)
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (not cider vinegar)

Do this
1) In a bowl large enough for the whole shootin' match, whisk together everything else. Don't skip the mustard. It's the secret ingredient that gives it life. And make sure all the lumps are whisked out.

2) Now, read my article on The Zen of Slawsome Slaw. Decide how you want to cut the cabbage, carrots, and onions: Chopped, grated, or hashed and have at it. I like this recipe best when chopped or grated. now that you've decided, do it.

3) Add the cabbage, carrots, and onions to the bowl with the dressing. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour if possible to extract the flavors from the celery seeds and the vegetables. Mix it up occasionally so the dressing doesn't pool at the bottom and taste. You can now add more of the seasonings to your preference.

4) When you serve it, mix thoroughly and scoop from the bottom so the veggies have dressing on them.

Hoisinful Nine Dragon Ribs Recipe

Hoisinful Nine Dragon RibsIn August 1972, I was 23 and a senior at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Don't ask why it took me so long to get to be a senior. My best friend, Kurt Westfall and I had just opened our first exhibit of photography, a two-man show, in Cedar Key, Florida. After the opening I felt like a rock star. I decided to go to the big city and make my fortune as an artist.

On the way back to Gainesville I picked up two hitchikers who told me that they were making an unbelievable $3.75 an hour working on the assembly line at Ford's Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan. I made a quick stop at my apartment, tossed my clothes and camera gear into the car, and drove them all the way to Detroit.

When we got to Dearborn, wouldn't you know it, the factories were all shut down to re-tool from one model year to the next, as was customary in August. They knew, but conveniently forgot to tell me.

After a few months I went to Chicago to see an exhibit of photography at the Art Institute of Chicago by my mentor and inspiration, Jerry Uelsmann. After one look at Chicago I decided not to go back to Detroit. Chicago was so much more beautiful and the arts and food communities were so much more vital (OK, Detroiters, send me your hatemail). I got a job at Foremost Liquors in Skokie and rented a room upstairs in a woman's home.

A few days after I started work I stopped at a Chinese restaurant, the Nine Dragon Inn. It was opening night and I was their first customer. Over the next few months I ate there often. I even kept a case of white wine in their walk-in cooler because they had no liquor license, and I hung around the kitchen watching them cook. I took friends, customers, and even my future wife there on our first date. The owners two young girls, Jean and Ada, found endless fascination in my beard, and played under the table while I ate. They called me something like toy-ya-ya, which I thought was a term of endearment, but I later found out meant something like "smelly feet".

I loved everything they made, but I especially loved their ribs. I have tried Chinese ribs many times since, but never found a restaurant that made them the same as Nine Dragon Ribs. The owners later moved to the west coast, and I have lost track of them. So I was forced to replicate the recipe, and I’ve come pretty close. I have never come close to the affection I had for Jean and Ada. Hopefully some day they will Google Nine Dragon Inn and find this article, and me.

The dominant flavor in this recipe is hoisin sauce. Called Chinese barbecue sauce or Chinese ketchup, hoisin sauce bears no resemblance to either, other than Chinese cooks use it a lot. This most excellent condiment is made from soybeans, vinegar, rice, salt, flour, garlic, and chili peppers. Wonderful, hoisinful stiff.
Recipe

Yield: Makes two cups, enough marinade for two slabs of baby backs.
Preparation time: Making the marinade takes about 30 minutes, and marinating takes 3-12 hours
Cooking time: About 2 hours

The marinade
1 cup or a 9 ounce jar of hoisin sauce
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine or white wine
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons sriracha hot chili sauce or another hot sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 teaspoon five spice powder

The glaze
1/4 cup honey

Optional but excellent garnishes
2 finely chopped scallion whites
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

About the Chinese ingredients. If you have trouble finding them in your grocery store, try AsianFoodGrocer.com

Do this
1) Mix all the marinade ingredients together and marinate the meat in a large plastic zipper bag (you may have to cut the slabs in half) for a minimum of 3 hours or better still, all day or overnight.

Cooking option 1: Indoor method
2) Line a baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, enough to wrap the ribs completely later, but just use it as a pan liner for now. Place the ribs in the pan and bake in an indoor oven at 250F for 2 hours.

3) Pour a little marinade over the top of the meat, and seal the ribs in a foil pouch using the pan liner. Turn the oven up to 350F and bake another hour.

4) Open the foil pouch carefully so you don't get burned by the steam. Peel back the foil and place under the broiler for 15-30 minutes, until it browns and sizzles. Watch it so it does not burn. A lot of fat will render out at this stage.

5) Remove from the oven and pour the honey lightly over the meat side and spread it around with a brush or spoon. Put it back under the broiler for five minutes or until it bubbles.

6) Garnish with the scallions, orange zest, and sesame seeds. Cut into individual ribs and serve.

Cooking option 2: Outdoor method
2) Bake the ribs in an outdoor oven, preferably a gas grill, using indirect heat or over a pan of water, at 250F for two hours. Skip the smoke.

3) Wrap each slab in aluminum foil meat side up, pour a little marinade over the meat, and seal the ribs in a foil pouch. Turn the oven up to 350F and bake another hour.

4) Open the foil pouch carefully so you don't get burned by the steam. Remove the slab from the foil and place it meat side down until it browns and sizzles. Watch it so it does not burn.

5) Remove from the grill and pour the honey lightly over the meat side and spread it around with a brush or spoon. Put it back on the grill, honey side down, five minutes or until it bubbles. Don't let it burn.

5) Garnish with the scallions, orange zest, and sesame seeds. Cut into individual ribs and serve.

Big Bob Gibson's Bama Birds with White BBQ Sauce Recipe

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que, in upstate Decatur, Alabama, has been a popular local hangout since 1925. In the past decade the place has achieved national fame on the coattails of the acclaim slathered on Chef Chris Lilly and his Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que competition team. That's him in the red shirt at right, with his father-in-law, Don McLemore, owner of Big Bob Gibson's and son-in-law of Big Bob himself.

Their team has won practically every major competition on the circuit. Lilly can be seen doing TV commercials for Kingsford charcoal, and he has been featured on the Today Show, USA Today, in the Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living and numerous other publications. You can even sit at the foot of the master and learn how to make championship barbecue by watching his DVD series.

Big Bob's red sauce has been named "Best on the Planet" at the American Royal Open in Kansas City, but their signature white barbecue sauce for chicken is their most famous because it is unique, although it now has several imitators. Here is my interpretation of the secret recipe, reverse engineered from the original and from the bottled version they sell.

Just a note of caution: This is not what everyone thinks of when they think of barbecue sauce. It is white, first of all. And it is not sweet. Not everyone likes it. But it's a classic and worth a try if you love barbecue. If you don't like it on chicken, it's just fine on coleslaw.
Recipe

Yield. 1 1/2 cups
Preparation time. 10 minutes

Ingredients
1/4 cup hardwood chips or pellets, or 2 golfball-sized chunks
1 large chicken or 2 Cornish game hens
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon powdered garlic
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground cayenne pepper

Do this
1) Whisk together all the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate in a jar overnight if possible to allow the flavors to meld.

2) Spatchcock or butterfly the bird by cutting the backbone out with heavy scissors and butterflying it by spreading it out flat. To get it really flat, cut out the keel bone in between the breasts. Run a skewer through the both drumsticks and thighs to keep them from flopping around. Fold the wing tips under the wings for the same reason. If you prefer, you can just cut the bird into two halves. Rinse and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper or with a spice mix.

3) Crank up your smoker or prepare the grill for indirect heating. If you are using a charcoal grill, bank the coals to one side. If you are using a multi-burner gas grill turn off all burners except one. If you are using a gas grill with only one burner put a pan on one side of the grill and fill it with water. Place the chicken skin side down on the cooler side of the grill. Put the wood on the heat source. Use a foil packet with wood on a gas grill. Don't overdo the smoke. Nothing will ruin chicken faster than too much smoke.

4) When the skin is golden, flip the bird. Cook until the internal temp of the breast is 165F or until the juices between the thigh and the body are clear. Remove the birds and paint them on all sides generously with the sauce. Let them rest for 5 minutes and serve with a bowl of sauce on the side for dipping.

Tennessee Hollerin' Whiskey BBQ Sauce Recipe

The best aged Kentucky Bourbons and Tennessee Whiskeys are the Cognacs of the country.

Bourbon is named for Bourbon County, Kentucky, and, although law requires Bourbon to be 51% corn, the best are 75% or more corn, with the balance wheat, rye, or barley. Although they are not called Bourbon, Tennessee whiskeys such as Jack Daniel's are made pretty much the same way as Bourbon and are comparable in taste.

The fermentation is induced by the introduction of "sour mash", some of the fermenting mash from previous batches, a process similar to the way sourdough bread is made. The mash ferments and is distilled to 80% alcohol (160 proof), which is aged in oak barrels for two years or more. Most are aged four years, and the best are aged eight years or more. They are blended with water and bottled from 80-90 proof.

In recent years Bourbon has grown in popularity, in part because some producers have begun bottling single barrels, aging for longer periods, and using fancy bottles.

The Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue is considered by many to be the most prestigious competition in the world. It is held in the holler just behind the distillery's home, Lynchburg, Tennessee. A few years back they added a sauce competition, but all sauces had to have Jack Daniel's in them. Inventive chefs cooked up some mighty nice sauces, and many of them have found their way into bottles.

Aged corn whiskeys have a wonderful sweet vanilla flavor that is great in barbecue sauces, but it is easily lost among the bold flavors of the alcohol and the other ingredients of a barbecue sauce. To showcase the whiskey flavors, my sauce does not have many ingredients, but it still is very complex. The secret is that we begin by gathering the essence of Bourbon by reducing a cup to a few tablespoons of magical elixir.

I named my sauce after the holler in which it was invented. It has a kick, and after one taste you'll be bending over and hollerin' "Kick me!"
Recipe

Makes. About 2 cups of sauce. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation time. 45 minutes.

Ingredients
2 cups Jack Daniel's Black Label or Bourbon
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
4 tablespoons dark molasses

Do this
1) Taste the whiskey to make sure it is up to your standards. Pour 1 cup of whiskey into a saucepan and set aside the remaining whiskey. Bring the saucepan to a boil and reduce the liquid to about 2 tablespoons. Don't let the alcohol flame. Taste the unused whiskey to make sure it hasn't gone bad.

2) Add 1/2 cup of the whiskey and the other ingredients. Simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Use it immediately or bottle it and keep it in the refrigerator. Drink the remaining whiskey.

Lexington Dip BBQ Sauce Recipe

Inland from the coast in North and South Carolina, in the west Carolina, the area called Piedmont or hill country, they call the sauce "dip". Small amounts of ketchup and sugar are added to the simple Low Country Mop-Sauce. The result is still thin and penetrating, never thick like Kansas City Sauce.

The debate over whether ketchup belongs in barbecue sauce has caused many a shouting match and even stirred a raucous debate in the North Carolina legislature. Some recipes omit the sugar, but I think it rounds out the flavor. The apple juice I use in mine is not standard, but I stole the idea from my favorite East Carolina sauce, George's, made in Nashville, NC. It really adds depth.

Since it is mostly vinegar, it keeps a long time in the fridge.
Recipe

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.

Ingredients
1 cup distilled vinegar (do not use cider vinegar)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

North Carolina Barbecue TrailDo this
1) Whisk together all the ingredients and let them sit for at least three hours to allow the flavors to meld. Overnight is better. A week is best. Mop it on the meat with a basting brush once every hour while cooking. A good silicon brush is best. It holds lots of fluid and is easy to clean. A lot of places still use mini string mops, but I think these are to hard to clean and potential sources of food poisoning.

2) Before serving, take the remaining mop and boil it to sterilize it. With a clean brush, to prevent contamination by a brush used on uncooked meat, mop the meat one last time. Serve the sauce in a cruet on the side so your guests can drizzle on more if they wish

Texas Barbecue Mop-Sauce Recipe

Brisket with Texas barbecue sauceTexas barbecue ranges from ribs to goat to sausage, but beef brisket is king. A dark clod of beef breast, brisket, when it is cooked, is usually sliced about 1/4" thick across the grain, and served on brown butcher paper or in white bread sandwich.

Old timey Texans take their brisket nekked. They don't don't cotton to sloppy, sticky, ketchup-based sauces like they make up north in Kansas City. That's because cattle don't need sweetened ketchup any more than they need wolves. Some pitstops have relented to public demand and now serve sauces. Some serve gloppy red sauces, but the best serve a thin brown sauce, almost a gravy that works both as a mop during the cook, and as a simple finishing sauce.

These mop-sauces feature local flavors: Chili powder, ancho powder, hot sauce, cumin, beer, onion, beef drippings, and maybe even coffee grounds. Thin as it is, it adds a richness and depth to the meat because it doesn't just sit on the surface, it penetrates. The cooks make up a batch and use it on everything: Brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage (a.k.a. hot links), mutton, goat, and even chicken.

Barbecue sauce in a vat at Cooper's in Llano TexasThey are used as mops during the cook because in Texas commercial pits often cook the meat 2-3' directly above coals. They can run hot, and they are opened often to add and remove meat. So a mop splashed on the meat during cooking replenishes moisture and cools the meat. But if you are cooking at home you are better served by keeping the lid closed, keeping the temp and humidity constant in your cooker, and skipping the mop.

Still, many folks like a sauce, especially if the meat is dry, and that can happen with brisket. So here's a very tasty formula inspired by the sauce at legendary Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano, TX, pictured here. They have a dozen pits to cook in, and one pit that is a holding pit. It has hunks of each of their meats and a big bucket of sauce. Customers come up and point at the meat they want and if they want sauce, the meat is dunked in the bucket, flavoring both. Trimmings and leftovers are also tossed in the bucket. So if you go to Cooper's, and if you want sauce, don't tell the pitmaster you'll use the bottled sauce on the picnic tables inside. Tell him to dip it.
Recipe

Yield. About 5 cups. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation time. 30 minutes

Customers at Cooper's select their meatIngredients
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon of butter *
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup Lone Star beer (or any other lager). Drink any that is left over.
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons steak sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Hot sauce to taste (start with 2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce for mild heat)
2 cups beef, veal, or chicken stock

Note about the oil. Butter or margarine work fine, but to make it authentic, use rendered beef fat from the fatback of a brisket or use bacon fat.

Do this
1) Mix the paprika, black pepper, chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl.

2) In a one quart saucepan, melt the butter or bacon fat and gently cook the onion over medium heat until translucent.

3) Add the garlic, bell pepper, and the spice mix you made in step (1). Stir, and cook for two minutes to extract the flavors.

4) Add the stock and the rest of the ingredients. Stir until well blended. Simmer on medium for 15 minutes.

Grownup Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

South Carolina is known for its barbecue sauces based on mustard (see South Carolina Yellow Mustard Sauce), especially in the belt between Columbia and Charleston. Most contain yellow mustard, cider vinegar, hot peppers, and sugar. Others are variations on the honey-mustard theme. I love the classic South Carolina sauces, but I wanted something a bit more interesting and complex.

Savory herb flavors are great with pork, so I started with a classic SC mustard recipe and added layers of complexity by adding rosemary and other more subtle flavors. If the classic SC mustard sauces are trumpet solos, this is a full orchestra. There's a lotta of stuff in this recipe, but try not to leave anything out.

When I served it to Keith Miller, a good friend who has reviewed many of my recipes, he said "Wow, this is a mustard sauce for grownups!" And it had a name. Alas, it does not have the sheen of a typical tomato-based sauce, but it sure does taste good! It also works great on chops or even a loin.
Recipe

Yield. Makes about one quart. Click here to calculate how much you need and for tips on saucing strategies.
Preparation time. About 30 minutes.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup onions, finely minced
6 tablespoons sweet red pepper, finely minced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground celery seed
2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes for mild sauce
1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups prepared Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules or 2 cubes dissolved in 1 ounce of water

About the hot pepper flakes: Double the amount for medium heat, and triple it for hot.

Optional: Garnish with minced fresh sweet red bell peppers or, if you like the heat, minced red jalapeño. In the picture above the ribs are also garnished with caramelized onions.

Do this
1) Put the oil into a two quart sauce pan, and warm it on a medium-low heat. Add the onion and sweet red peppers and sweat them until the onions are limp. Add the garlic and cook it for about a minute.

2) Add the dry ingredients except the sugar. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes in order to develop and extract their flavors.

3) Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Bring to a low boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the sugar from burning or sticking to the bottom. Simmer on low for another 15 minutes.

4) Cook the ribs, preferably outdoors with smoke. Add sauce near the end.

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.
Recipe

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.

Ingredients
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.

South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

Bottle of mustardIn a swath of Mid-South Carolina, from around Columbia to the coast around Charleston, barbecue sauce is yellow, not red. Here’s a quick and easy classic South Carolina mustard sauce. Tangy. One of my favorites. Also great on pulled pork.
Recipe

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

Ingredients
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules or 1 cube crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1 teaspoon powdered onion
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper flakes for mild sauce, 1/2 teaspoon for medium, 1 teaspoon for hot
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups prepared yellow mustard
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar

Do this
1) Dissolve the bouillon in an ounce of water. Set aside.

2) Crush the rosemary leaves in a mortar and pestle and add to a nonreactive one quart bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix.

3) Add the bouillon and the rest of the ingredients and whisk until they are mixed together thoroughly. Let it sit for a an hour in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld. No cooking necessary.

4) Do not use a rub. Mop with Carolina Mop-sauce if you wish. Cook them until ready. Add sauce. Serve extra sauce on the side.

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.
Recipe

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

Ingredients
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.