Ahhh… the smell of woodsmoke and grilling meat, nothing can really compare. And what would grilled, or smoked meat be without a good barbeque sauce? I’d say just not quite as good! The one thing that is both good and bad about barbeque sauces is that for every single cook out there, there is another sauce to be tried. Everyone who claims to have some skill in smoking and grilling meats also has their favourite BBQ sauce recipe. Some are good, and some are not. Some are amazing, and others…well let’s just say they should never ever be introduced to the meat!
There are very broadly speaking 2 basic kinds of barbeque sauces:
- Sweet – typically sweetened with dark sugar, honey, or molasses
- Savory – much less sugar is added
From these, variations in the sauce’s base, heat (from chilli peppers), herbs, spices, and liquid flavours are what will most greatly affect the colour, flavour and consistency of the finished barbeque sauce. It is important to note that even in the more savory bbq sauces, sugar is important becuase it is what caramalizes and adds the golden colours to the finished meat. However these will rely more on the sugars found in the ingredients (tomatos, peppers, onions), rather than adding extra sugars.
A basic barbeque sauce for meats like ribs, steaks, or roasts (chickens, lamb etc. on the spit) will be something like this:
- Base – most commonly the base of BBQ sauce is tomato in some form. It doesn’t have to be however. Soup stocks, onions, sweet peppers, or even fruit like mango can be the base of a BBQ sauce, depending on what you are using it for.
- Acid – you may or may not need to add acid to a barbeque sauce. Common ones are tomatos, vinegars, and citrus like lime or lemon
- Spicey heat – most commonly black pepper and any of the chili peppers are used to add spicey heat to barbeque sauces
- herbs & spices – with herbs and spices, the sky and your taste is the limit. Really common ones include cumin, paprika (roasted red pepper), rosemary, oregano, thyme,sage, mint, cinamon, cloves, mustard, corriander, garlic, onions
- oil – can add robust flavours and helps the overall consistency of the sauce. Sesame, olive, canola, peanut and other oils can be used
- additional flavours – again this is up to you, but smoked peppers, acidic fruits like pineapple or citrus, ginger and pretty much anything else you enjoy can be used to add flavour and textures to your barbeque sauce.
Many people will also use commercially available sauces and products as a base or additional flavouring for the barbeque sauces they make on their own.
- soy sauce
- oyster sauce
- Worchestershire sauce
- chili garlic paste
- fish sauces
- and pretty much anything else is fair game if you like the taste and it holds up to heat
In most cases a good barbeque sauce is prepared in advance and given some time to sit and let the flavours mix and merge for a day or so before it is going to be used. While it does depend on how, and what you are cooking, it is often best to smoke or barbeque the meat most of the way before the barbeque sauce is put on the meat.
This is just the basics of barbeque sauces. We will be adding barbeque sauce recipes of course. If you have your favourite recipe, why not add it in a comment below so we can all enjoy it.