Finally, a BBQ sauce I can live with – a recipe

I’m a Californian, born & raised. This, by sheer definition, means I don’t know what barbecue is. I can live with that, but it isn’t easy. I’ve fought through teeth & nails to read, listen and scour the net for help. Most of this I did back in 1998, as far as the net is concerned. In the traditional sense, I just did what I thought was right and to hell with the rest. If my rack of ribs cooked slowly for 5 hours with real wood, that was good enough for me. But I wanted more, I wanted to taste the regional sauces of the Carolinas, Texas and/or St. Louis. I tried, but didn’t come up with anything that was worth doing a second time. Until yesterday …

10 years ago I used as my gold standard for people that knew barbecue, inside and out. I cooked through nearly each recipe for sauces that I could find. I never did find a vinegar based sauce that I could put in my mouth, and the sweeter ones never came even remotely close to mine. I gave up and moved on, never gave it much thought. I always figured that some day I’d run across something that I could stomach, this day has come.
A month ago I was invited to Fatted Calf’s Picnic, a never to be missed happening. Well, along with all the world-class charcuterie, home brew, brew, home-pickled pickles, & Napa Valley splendor? A BBQ sauce that Taylor had come up with was in attendance. The velvety rich, tangy, then sweet sauce made me jump with glee. No really, this was good shit and I wanted more. It was a cross between the Carolina vinegar with a sweet overtone of the St. Louis to Texas love. This was a finishing sauce worthy of my smoked ribs, brisket or whatever. Filling it with pulled pork and inserted to good bun was what I was thinking of. This was good, really good, and I liked it.
Naturally I sent off an email and asked them to bottle it so I could buy it along with my other needfuls. A week passed, and what I received was an email stating that nothing he has is a secret and here’s the recipe. Okay, so it was obvious it wasn’t going in to production, but how awesome is it to get the recipe to the best ever BBQ sauce of all time? Very, just so you know.
I’m here to pass along the goodness, I tried making it myself yesterday and it came out nearly as good. I suspect his duck gelee outclassed my chicken jello, oh well. I also think his blackstrap molasses was richer along with a better coffee. But this shit was face down in the bucket good. Plus it was simple, interested?
Here’s what you’ll require:
1 Onion, minced
3 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups stock or duck gelee
3 cups ketchup
1 cup blackstrap molasses
1 cup coffee
1/2 cup bourbon
Note: I didn’t have any duck gelee, so used chicken jello and rendered chicken fat.
Mince onion and make translucent in chicken fat (maybe 2 tablespoonsful), add vinegar. Reduce by half.
Add 2 cups of heavy stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
Fold in 3 cups of ketchup, one cup of blackstrap molasses, 1 cup of coffee and half a cup of bourbon. Simmer for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning and use according to
your twisted little desires.
The ribs I smoked were only marinated with salt for maybe 3 hours, it’s all you need. Smoke, meat = greatness. Sauce to finish and it doesn’t cover up any of the meat perfection or intrude. It’s good and I endorse it.

11 thoughts on “Finally, a BBQ sauce I can live with – a recipe

  1. Lord, Biggles, I love you. Thanks for sharing the recipe, duck jelly and all. Aside: I once allowed my recipe for sauce to be included in some big guy’s cookbook and I have seen it (he titled it “Georgian Moppin’ Sauce” to my chagrin)spread all over the internet, on cooking sites and in other publications. It’s the first thing that comes up when you google my real name. Weird. I stick to my own stuff — but I am willing to give this a go. I mean, it has vinegar like mine and maybe my ruling to exclude tomato may be overcome by the desire to taste the bourbon/molasses balance in the ratio.

  2. Wow, Biggles, you are definitely a Californian — “born and raised.” Duck gelee as a key ingredient in BBQ sauce. Hmmm…

  3. Ya know, I’m a born and half-raised Californian. The other half of the raising was done in Texas. I’m scratching my head like Chandler on this duck gelée in BBQ sauce idea. Sounds like steer’s milk. But…if Taylor says it’s OK, and it passed the Meathenge Labs test…just, maybe? I’d try it, but finding molasses in Spain isn’t going to be easy.

  4. This sauce rocks! Tang AND sweet. But whattya mean ‘chicken jello’? Having been to your larder, I can imagine a few possibilities…

  5. Hey Jlee,
    It was some Fatted Calf Soul Food chicken stuff. When defrosted looked like jello! Figured it had to be good.
    Ah, Sunday.

  6. Looks great. I’m going to try it with balsamic vinegar instead of the red wine vinegar, and throw in some hot peppers!

  7. Hey Jeremy,
    Hot peppers or the flakes, absolutely! But not sure about the balsamic, it isn’t acidic enough to pull the other flavors out. Let me know though, but would think it would come out a little weird.

  8. Okay, this is a new comment for a really old post but I have to thank you. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I’ve had a thorn in my side for 3 years re: bbq sauce because my dumb bro. in law refuses to share a recipe he got from his cousin and it ticks me off. I love, love, love my grilled/smoked meats and what you describe sounds like my kind of sauce to eat it with.
    If you’ve tried any variations on this, please email me and let me know know. I love chipotle, cherries and craziness in my sauce but need a base to start with that I know will be good.
    Seriously, I feel better about this whole sauce fiasco and my relationship with family might be saved. Bless you. 🙂

  9. I have to echo the previous comment. While this may be an old post, I’ve actually given this recipe a try. I will admit, I gave it a try because of the funny Indiana Jones hanging from a bowl. I also messed it up royally, haha.
    I’ll give it another try, but nothing like a good BBQ sauce!