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

Dry Rubbed Chicken Drumsticks after being "kissed" with smoke from the smoker box with Double filet wood chunks!

Dry Rubbed Chicken Drumsticks after being “kissed” with smoke from the smoker box with Double filet wood chunks!

SALT-FREE DRY RUBBED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

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You’ve likely heard about limiting your ingestion of chicken skin which can add unnecessary calories and saturated fat.  On the flip-side, chicken skin also adds to the overall flavor and moisture of chicken.  Here’s the thing: if you limit the amount of chicken skin you ingest, it contains a good amount of unsaturated fat that can be heart healthy, which you may not be benefiting from.

I’m going to give you a dry rub recipe that is salt-free to add in the healthy aspect of this recipe and includes some fat to the skin that will add flavor but also render off.  Purchase chicken drumsticks and prepare the gas grill for this easy technique and super flavorful chicken you’ll want to be sure to make extras of.

Grill Set Up

Double filet wood chunks in the smoker box ready to delicaly flavor our chicken drumsticks

Double Filet Wood Chunks

Before starting the rub recipe, get the gas grill preheated by turning on only half the grills’ burners.  That will be the side that we will add the wood chunks to while the side that remains off will be where the food will be placed.  For the wood chunks, you can either place them directly on the heat shields, on the hot grill grate, or in a smoker box.  Yes, that smoker box that you see advertised for wood chips is going to hold double filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious®.

Salt-Free Dry Rub

I’m balancing my salt-free dry rub flavor by incorporating a variety of ingredients:

  • Whole allspice
  • Ancho Chile pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Curry powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Fresh ground pepper

I always like to use a mortar and pestle when I make a rub as I usually have whole pods or seeds that need to be reduced.  Once the rub is reduced to powder, I apply it to the drumsticks.

mortise with all our great dry rub ingredients mixed and ready to apply to the chicken drumsticks

Salt-free Dry Rub

These I lay on a roasting rack placed in a disposable foil pan.  This will allow the chicken to render without causing a mess to the grill and allow the smoke vapor produced by the wood chunks to rotate around the chicken.

 

A Little Fat Will Do

After the drumsticks are lined up on the roasting rack, I add a sprinkling of almond oil and 8 tablespoons of butter.  These two items will allow the skin to crisp slightly.  They also provide the moisture on the outside to attract the smoke vapor.  If you want to skip this step, just keep a spray bottle of tepid water ready and you can moisten the chicken skin with a calorie-free alternative.

 

Make a Lot!

After cooking for about 35 minutes, flip each drumstick on the rack and check your wood.  It will likely be black as the wood combusts and renders the flavonoids in the lignin that produce the great flavor.  Close the lid and allow the chicken to cook an additional 35-40 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 165°F.  Be sure to make extra so you have a great go-to protein to feed you throughout the week.

The cooking dry ribbed Chicken Drumsticks on the gas grill

 

What are your favorite ingredients to add to a dry rub?  Leave us a comment and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

 

 

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

Additional reading:

-CORNISH GAME HEN MEETS SMOKE IN THE ORION COOKER

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

-SALT FREE SPICE RUBS- HEALTHY CHOICES

-SALT CHOICES: HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND?

 

Dr. Smoke you must try this recipe dry rubbed chicken Drumsticks

Dr. Smoke, you must try this recipe dry rubbed chicken Drumsticks