One of the things the South is most known for is its Barbecue (BBQ) sauces that are used on just about any kind of beef, pork, chicken or wild game. The ingredients usually consist of a common tomato and vinegar base, but the flavorings are varied by location and the types of applications–marinades, rubs, dips or mop (basting) sauces. Consistency differs also, ranging from watery to a thick paste dependent on how it will be used. EVERYONE has their opinion on what goes into making the best sauces.
Though the base recipe uses certain common ingredients, there are some regions and countries that have their own unique ingredients like mayonnaise, citrus fruits, soy sauce or salsa. While I can’t post all the differences, some of the more popular and widely known flavor profiles from the USA and their uses are:
- Carolina style – a tangy all-around sauce used for both mopping and dipping. Its heavy on the vinegar with very little sweetness.
- Kansas City style – What most people think of when it comes to BBQ sauce. It contains a good balance of vinegar and sugary flavors and is very thick. Generally used as a finishing glaze or dipping sauce.
- Memphis style – Another well-balanced sauce but uses molasses as its sweetening agent.
- Texas style – A sauce known for being tangy, smoky and spicy with the addition of onion and some type of red or green peppers. Its thin consistency makes it perfect for pulled-meat sandwiches.
- South Carolina style – A thin to medium thickness yellow sauce due to a heavy mustard and oil flavoring. Most often used as a mop or dip.
Every family usually has a recipe that’s passed down through the generations. My dad loved his BBQ but he was pretty simple in sauce preference–in my family, it was just a bottle of Kraft original flavor BBQ sauce passed down. So, I pretty much had to start from scratch to find my sauce.
I started with a basic Kansas City style recipe and added ingredients to taste over the years. This resulted in a very good general purpose sauce with layers of flavor. Its thin to medium consistency is perfect for basting, dipping or my favorite, pulled pork sandwiches. The most important thing to note about this sauce is when taste-testing, you’ll get a very tangy vinegar flavor, BUT when its added to the pork, it becomes sweet. Be cautious when adapting it to your preference that you don’t add too much sugar before testing it on your protein (let it soak in good before tasting).
I like to make a double sauce recipe, that way I can store the extra in a mason jar in the fridge to use for dipping or basting over the following 2 or 3 weeks.
Sunny’s Bourbon BBQ Sauce
1/2 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the onion, garlic, and whiskey. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Mix in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and hot pepper sauce.
2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Run sauce through a strainer or food processor if you prefer a smooth sauce.