Okay, so I have an extreme love of barbecue sauce. Anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, knows this. One of the best gifts I ever got (for Valentine’s Day no less) was a barbecue sauce of the month club (which technically wasn’t every month, but two bottles of sauce every three months, I wasn’t complaining, no siree). Technically speaking barbecue sauce is not that difficult to make. It often has a mustard, ketchup, or vinegar base – this frequently reflecting the area of the country from which the recipe originates. But really, you just throw a bunch of ingredients together in a pot on the stove and boil it for a little while, sometimes you need to puree it, but it’s as easy or easier than making soup (though perhaps a bit less healthy and let’s hope that you eat slightly less – this may not be the case if you like it as much as I do). Maybe I need to start keeping track of my soup to barbecue sauce ratio as a measure of general overall health, an interesting proposition now that I think of it. ☺
Several years ago now I bought a barbecue cookbook at Reading Terminal Market here in Philadelphia called Peace, Love and Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe. It’s a great book which has a little on everything you might want to know re barbecue from the history in different parts of the country, to stories about specific barbecue joints, to barbecue competition teams, to recipes for sauces and rubs, meat, sides, and desserts – all you’ll require for a complete barbecue meal. Last winter I fully intended to test out several of the barbecue sauce recipes in the cookbook to keep my fridge stocked with a variety of sauce yumminess, but never quite got around to it. I was recently reminded of said project and reinvigorated with the enthusiasm for trying out several options. I marked out four recipes to try and began compiling all the necessary ingredients (e.g. I have actually, not until this project, purchased a bottle of ketchup since moving to Philadelphia five and a half years ago – barbecue sauce is my ketchup, what can I say?).
Over the last two weeks I’ve managed to find the time to make three out of the four of these recipes (still looking for an ingredient or two on the fourth) and now my fridge is literally bursting with sauce. This last batch was what really put me over the edge. It just goes to show you that it’s best to pay attention to the details when you’re reading through a recipe. I didn’t even stop to consider how much output there’d be for each of these sauces, and the last one I threw together made three quarts! Three quarts, that translates to between four and five bottles of sauce. I mean I love sauce and all, but that is serious loot! Even when I’m really blowing through the stuff because I’m having a particularly barbecue sauce-centric phase, there’s just no way I’d eat that much in less than a one-bottle-a-month sort of rate, and that’s when I really like the sauce. I’m not going to tell you what my current favorite sauce is, since I don’t want to turn into an advertisement here, but I do have strong preferences, and when I buy a new kind I’ve never had before I almost always end up mixing several together or adding in other ingredients to try to create the kind of taste I’m looking for. All of which is to say, “everyone I know is getting barbecue sauce for the holidays” because it is am almost literally leaking it out of my apartment. It’s taking over my refrigerator and I have too many other cooking projects that I will want to use that space for, sorry sauce, I love you an’ all, but…
So, if you’re in my circle of friends, let this be a forewarning to you, prepare yourself, get all of your favorite barbecue recipes together, arm yourself with a litany of options, so when a bottle of the sauce arrives in your house or apartment, you’ll be ready to roll.