Let’s say you’re in one of America’s many barbecue deserts and a benign providence presents you with an opportunity to eat some by gosh barbecue. The catches, you must provide some barbecue sauce. You rush to the store and see KC Masterpiece and Bone Sucking Sauce and other crimes against humanity, but nothing you’d ever eat without a gun at your head, or maybe even then. What do you do?
Funny you should ask.
I had a call recently from my good friends Lisa and Frank McAuliffe. Actually, Nancy took the call because I was in North Carolina eating barbecue. Anyway, Frank and Lisa needed a recommendation for a good barbecue sauce, and there wasn’t time to mail order some Ollie’s from Birmingham. You should keep some in stock, as I try to do.
Lisa and Frank needed it right away, so Nancy called me.
This was a serious request. Barbecue sauce is serious, and Frank and Lisa are serious food people. They study recipes, follow local restaurant news sedulously, and shop for fresh food daily. Lisa gave us that great salmon marinade that we use (did I post that recipe? Ah! Here is is.), and son Brennan developed the famous Curbed Hunger cheese steak, “the sort of sandwich that cheese steaks dream of becoming when they are little cheese steak sliders, and that they think of wistfully as they plod through a brief existence as the DMV employees of the sandwich world, able to accomplish nothing more than spreading dyspepsia.” I couldn’t slough them off with any of the products readily available here in the DC area, and my stock of Ollie’s was running dangerously low. Neighborliness has its limits, and I’m a great believer in the adage, Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day. Or something.
Thus under the gun, I was, however, able to improvise a recipe for a very good barbecue sauce that anyone can make quickly. Here it is:
— One part any commercial barbecue sauce (the less sugar the better).
— Three parts vinegar.
— One part Texas Pete.
— Mix well.
Now that was easy, wasn’t it? And it’s ready to go. If you want it more vinegar-forward, use Crystal hot sauce instead of Texas Pete (which has more salt, less vinegar). If you want it hotter, add one or more dashes of cayenne pepper. Save your Tabasco sauce for eggs, fried potatoes, and cajun dishes.
Lisa and Frank were very pleased with the result. They said that they were going to steal the recipe and start bottling the sauce. You can try this at home if you’re in extremis, or you can plan ahead and order some Ollie’s barbecue sauce or put it on your Christmas gift list. I don’t know if you can mail order barbecue sauce from the excellent Dixie Pig, but it’s a great vinegar and pepper sauce. Another very good sauce is available on site at Morris Barbecue in Hookerton, North Carolina. It’s only open on Saturday, but if you’re nearby, it’s worth swinging by for the sauce. (I’d go to wood-fired places for the meat: Bum’s up in Ayden, and Grady’s, over near Dudley, are closest. Both serve superb barbecue.)
Let me know of other sauces I should try.
UPDATE: As you can see in the comments, my brother Jim points out Scott’s as a good barbecue sauce that’s in many supermarkets in and around North Carolina. I recently discovered that, locally, the “downtown” Bethesda Harris Teeter sells it.
Any other sauces?
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