Barbecue Sauces come in many different size, shapes and colors, our primer can assist you in understanding their use ages.

Barbecue Sauces come in many different size, shapes and colors, our primer can assist you in understanding their use ages.

BARBECUE SAUCE BROKEN DOWN

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Barbecue is a cooking method that includes smoke vapor for flavoring.  This is my pure definition.  I won’t go into the controversy over whether grilling is part of barbecue or not.  Just know that some type of plant material must combust to produce smoke that produces flavor to what is being cooked.

The resulting food whether an animal protein or some other item,  can be finished with various methods.  By far, the most popular finish is with a sauce, more commonly known as barbecue sauce.

Let’s dive into what comprises a sauce used for barbecue and how regions are influenced by the ingredients chosen for the sauce.

I’m Talking Sauce Not Mop!

For those that aren’t familiar with the difference, we are talking only about sauces today and not mops.  A mop is a thinner liquid that is applied while meats are cooking to keep the protein moist during the cooking process.  These are commonly used for open pit barbecue and grilling and are applied while the meat is raw all the way through the cooking process.  Like a marinade, once a mop is used for a cooking event, any leftovers need to be discarded to prevent cross contamination of bacteria.  The tool used to apply the mop looks like a miniature floor mop.

Sauce is a glazing liquid that is much thicker than a mop and usually contains ingredients that provide a balance of sweet, salty, savory, and spicy.  Generally, a sauce is either applied near the end of the cooking or left as a side to be applied by the guest enjoying the barbecue meats.

There are a lot of variations to a sauce which are generally based on regional ingredients and cuisine.

Carolina Sauces

The Carolina states revolve around mustard and vinegar-based sauces.  Since pork ribs, whole hog, and pork butt dominate in these regions, the acidity of these ingredients blends perfectly to bring the meats to perfection.

South Carolina: the sauce is yellow, sweet with a tartness commonly found in central South Carolina to the coast of Charleston.  The sweetness comes from cane or standard sugar and the tartness from standard yellow mustard paired with a little dried mustard powder.

The western portion of South Carolina tends to lean toward ketchup-based sauces while northwest you’ll find tomato sauce added.

North Carolina: Although commonly associated with North Carolina, vinegar-based sauces are really a central to eastern North Carolina preference.  These locations often use the vinegar sauce as both a mop and sauce, starting with naked meat; no rub.  Commonly white distilled vinegar is the choice rather than the apple cider variety and this is paired with a little sugar, salt, red pepper flakes or crushed Chipotle, black pepper and hot sauce.

The western portion of the state is more prone to a tomato-based sauce or “dip” as it is called.  Like their eastern counterparts, they apply this as a mop and sauce to naked meat.  Ingredients generally include distilled white vinegar, ketchup, sugar, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and a bit of juice, usually apple.

Alabama White

Used for chicken, this is a mayonnaise-based sauce that has no sweetness at all.  Other ingredients include apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, apple juice, garlic powder, horseradish, dry mustard, cayenne pepper.

Kansas City Red

This is likely what most of the sauces sold in grocery stores can be compared to.  It is very thick, very sweet, and ketchup or tomato based.  Its common ingredients include onion, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, chili powder, spicy mustard, molasses, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, and ketchup.

Texas Style

 With beef being king in the state of Texas, their sauce also tends to serve as a mop as well.  This sauce tends to be very dark and similar in consistency to gravy.  Due to their proximity to the Mexican border, chiles are common in the sauce.  As beef takes a long cooking time, this sauce/mop penetrates deep into the meat making it seem less like a sauce.

Kentucky Black

Known to include vinegar and Worcestershire, this is often referred to as Western Kentucky-Style Barbecue Sauce.  It is quite thin due to the amount of water added with only a little bit of ketchup and seasonings that include paprika, dry mustard, onion and garlic powder, and red pepper.

Memphis Style

When in Memphis, learn how to order your ribs.  They serve them two ways – dry and wet.  Dry is just that – dry rubbed only.  Wet will give you a saucy rib.  Oh, yes, Memphis is all about ribs.

The sauce tends to be a balance of sweet and spicy as they use both vinegar and ketchup in most recipes.  Other ingredients include: onion, garlic, Worcestershire, butter, molasses, mustard, paprika, brown sugar, oregano, thyme.

Keep in mind, most natives only like dry ribs but are known to indulge in sauce on their pulled pork and chicken.

Other Finds

Certainly, you will find other sauces available during your travels in North America.  Some will be soy sauce based like Hawaiians use while others are fruit rich.  I love smoking various fruits while in season and then using their rendered juices in a sauce.  Strawberry, raspberry, peach, and cherry work great for this purpose.

To me, a sauce should compliment the protein your serving and not cover it up.  It should not be the only flavor you taste.  If you can’t decipher the meat under the sauce, then the balance of ingredients is not there.

If you step into the arena of sauce making, here’s some additional information to keep in mind.  Always include some level of vinegar, salt, sugar and spice as these have preservative properties that will allow your sauce to stay fresh for a while.  Use glass jars for storing your sauce and try to get the sauce in the jars while still hot.  Get them to the refrigerator quickly after jarring.

Unopened sauce will last many months while open jars should be used within a month.

Keep in mind that when cooking with hardwood as in traditional hot smoking, it is the ingredients, cut of meat, age of the wood that all factor in to how the wood flavonoids reveal themselves.  Don’t let anyone tell you that a fruitwood will always produce a sweet flavor to smoked meats.  That is for you to determine through the additional ingredients you use in the meat’s preparation.

SmokinLicious® products related to this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to barbecue Sauce broken down and other grilling tips

For more reading related to barbecue Sauce #bbqsauce broken down and other grilling tips

Additional reading:

-SALT-FREE DRY RUBBED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

-SMOKED STRAWBERRY MARINADE

-SMOKED MAPLE SYRUP MARINADE

Dr. Smoke- Barbecue sauce broken down, we hope this is helpful in understanding the sauces you use

Dr. Smoke- Barbecue sauce broken down, we hope this is helpful in understanding the sauces you use

Our smoked strawberries work perfectly to make a smoked strawberry marinade for our pork or any other meat!

Our smoked strawberries work perfectly to make a smoked strawberry marinade for our pork or any other meat!

 

SMOKED STRAWBERRY MARINADE

Summary:

Smoking on a Gas Grill or Charcoal Grill and using smoking wood chunks brings out the power of strawberries for this special smoked strawberry marinade. Smoked fruit by using Single filet® and a mild hardwood species like ash, alder, maple or cherry will have you adding this to your smoked strawberries marinade recipes.

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If you’re like me, you love strawberries for the incredible juice they contain.  One of my favorite ways to capture the essence of that juice is to smoke the strawberries on a grill.  Not only do you end up with phenomenal smoked strawberries but the juice the grilling/smoking process renders is a must-have ingredient for so many recipes.  I took a batch of the smoked juices and made a fabulous marinade for fish, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and goat.

The Simple Grilling Method

Whether you elect to use a standard gas grill or a charcoal grill, you’ll want to use wood chunks from SmokinLicious® to bring clean smoke flavors to the strawberries.  You can visit our previous articles on smoking on a gas or charcoal grill in Dr. Smoke’s Tips and Technique.

For me, I’m using a gas grill equipped with single filet wood chunks.  I prefer to use more mild hardwoods when smoking fruits like Ash, Alder, Cherry, and Maple.

Strawberries on the gas grill with the double filet on the lite burner

Strawberries on the gas grill with the double filet on the lite burner

I simply lay out my fresh strawberries on a sheet pan or disposable foil tray after cleaning and trimming the stems.  I place the pan on the unlit side of my grill using a medium heat setting on the burners that are on the opposite side.  It will take less than 30 minutes to bring the strawberries to the smoky side.  After the strawberries are tenderly smoked and the juices have rendered, I carefully remove the tray and all the strawberries to cool slightly.  I then transfer the juice to a bowl to be used in my marinade.

The Smoked Strawberry Marinade Recipe

This marinade is so simple yet really packs great flavor.  Of course, the longer you marinate your protein, the better the outcome.  For one cup of marinade you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of smoked strawberry juice
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons blueberry balsamic vinegar or similar fruity flavor
  • ¼ cup Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Select your protein: I recommend chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, or goat.  Place the protein in the bowl and coat completely with marinade.  Place the marinated protein in a resealable food storage bag, pouring the remaining marinade into the bag, and seal tightly.  Refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours but preferably overnight

Our pork roast and smoked strawberry marinade

Our pork roast and smoked strawberry marinade

Now you can choose the cooking method to bring all the flavors together.  Grill, oven roasting or even smoking.  Once you’ve selected your cooking method, remove the marinated meat from the bag and cook until done.  Remember, the marinade has been used on raw meat so you cannot reuse it as it will contain some bacteria.

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Additional reading:

-SMOKED MAPLE SYRUP MARINADE

-STRAWBERRIES GET SMOKY FOR AN AQUA FRESCA COCKTAIL

-SMOKED STRAWBERRIES WITH HAND HELD SMOKER

-Smoked Strawberry Napoleon

 

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke flavor! Bring out the smoky flavor in the strawberries when you use as a marinade!

 

Smoke trapped in the bottle infusing the Smoked Maple Syrup Marinade

Smoke trapped in the bottle infusing the Smoked Maple Syrup Marinade

 SMOKED MAPLE SYRUP MARINADE

PERFECT FOR YOUR FAVORITE PROTEIN

SUMMARY:

Using the Gourmia™ Mini Smoker with Minuto® cooking wood chips, we infused wood smoke flavor into Maple Syrup for a smoked maple syrup! Use this smoked maple syrup marinade, as glaze recipes for pork roasts or boneless pork roast. Add to your marinade recipes, maple syrup glaze recipes, and handheld food smokers.

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A point that I regularly try to drive home is that when it comes to smoking foods and ingredients, it doesn’t have to be the traditional items thought of.  A great example of this is our Dijon Maple Marinade recipe that is especially good with pork.

When you don’t want to smoke the actual protein, think about smoking another ingredient that will be married to the pork.  For me, that was the maple syrup I use in my marinade recipe.  I’ll review for you the cold smoking technique for this and then provide my recipe for this great marinade that can be used on fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and goat.

The Simple Cold Smoke Method

I’m sure you’ve read or seen some type of information for cold smoking cocktails, cheese, salt, and spices.  This technique is easiest when you use one of the many types of handheld food smokers on the market today.

For my method of smoking maple syrup, I’ve selected the Gourmia® Mini Smoker which works best with a very clean, dust-free micro wood chip to produce the smoke for infusion.  This is easily available from SmokinLicious®, offering a variety of sizing to fit your need in 8 hardwood species.  I’ll be using the Minuto® Wood Chip Size #8 for this smoking infusion.

I’ve found the easiest method of smoking and maintaining the maple syrup, is to use a glass container like a wine bottle.  Just be sure that the container is completely clean and dry.

I place about one cup of maple syrup in the glass bottle.  Taking the tubing of the Gourmia® Mini Smoker, I place the end in the glass bottle.  Taking just a finger size pinch or two of the wood chips, I place in the handheld food smoker’s chip bowl and then ignite the wood chips with a lighter while turning the unit’s fan on.  Once the smoke is generated, I turn the unit’s van off and allow the bottle to fill with smoke.  Save a cork as you can use it to plug the bottle allowing for maximum infusion of the smoke.  Be sure to rotate the bottle to allow for the smoke to travel completely within the maple syrup.

Look at how nicely the glaze colors our pork roast- the maple syrup adds a nice sweet touch

The Smoked Maple Syrup Marinade Recipe

Once the maple syrup has been smoked, it’s time to collect the other ingredients and make our marinade.  Using equal parts smoked NYS maple syrup Grade A and Dijon mustard, I add 3 tablespoons of lime juice and fresh ground pepper and whisk until just combined.  Taking a storage bag, I place a 4 lb. boneless pork roast inside, then pour in my Smoked Maple Syrup-Dijon Marinade.  Sealing the bag, I place the bag in the refrigerator for a least 4 hours though I prefer to marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Place the marinated roast in a roasting pan with rack.  This will take about 75 minutes to reach 145° F internal temperature.  About halfway through the cooking process, I rotate the cooking pan and spoon some of the pan juices back over the roast.  That will give it a beautiful bronze finish.  Remove from the oven and cut into ½” slices.  The Aroma-taste of pure maple joy with a smoky kick!

Bringing you great recipes for all types of food ingredients to grill, ember cook, hot smoke, and cold smoke.  We welcome your suggestions on foods you want to see smoked or charred so leave us a comment.  Don’t forget to subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor.

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

Additional reading:

-NOT JUST ANY MAPLE SYRUP!

-SALT FREE SPICE RUBS- HEALTHY CHOICES

-BBQ SHRIMP INSTANT GRATIFICATION!

-SMOKED HAM ON THE GAS GRILL

 

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke -Dazzle the taste buds of your friends with this smoked maple syrup marinade recipe