I like all kinds of BBQ sauces, though Memphis style is my go-to sauce. Today I put together a vinegary East Carolina sauce because I found out the mister has never tried it.
I’ve got tons of cousins and aunties in the Carolinas, so I grew up with Piedmont-style sauce. It’s certainly different.
The recipe I’m using is similar to Meathead Goldwyn’s, except with cider vinegar rather than distilled.
What’s your favorite BBQ sauce, if any? Please feel free to discuss non-BBQ topics as well — open thread!
Spicy sweet Okie sauce.
Mustard-based. Do like a Memphis-style rub on occasion.
I make one with, hm, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, sriracha, other chilies, garlic, ginger, cilantro, fennel seed, sometimes cumin, brown sugar. Its hot and sticky/sweet.
I go in for Craig’s Barbecue sauce. This is probably an unfair recommendation to make, because AFAIK, you can only buy it at the shack (literal shack) in DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, where Craig’s is located. It’s a mustard-based sauce, comes in mild, medium and hot, and includes, among other seasonings, anchovies. But it sure is good!
When my Canadian cousin retired about ten years ago, he decided that he was going to do something that involved two of his passions: driving on looooooong road trips, and eating barbecue. So he found out how to train as a BBQ judge, took the training (quite rigorous, as I understand), and started judging little local fairs and cook-offs. Today, he is invited to judge BBQ all over North America — he’s just finished up his, I think, seventh year in a row judging Memphis in May — and works his calendar so he can drive to all these events by the most scenic or interesting or quirky routes possible. He’s shown up a few odd times, briefly, on The Food Channel (Food Network?), and just loves his life. And now I’m having to plan my own trips to see him around his BBQ judging schedule!
I’m finding the website living livestock quite humorous. The idea of developing miniature occulus rifts for chickens so they can be virtually free ranging amuses me today. I guess this is a day where I’ll be easily entertained. I am venturing outdoors in the hopes of finding someone who wants to tell me a knock knock joke.
My mom has a recipe that my Jewish grandfather had that I’ve never seen done anywhere. Unfortunately she just does it by feel & doesn’t have it written down. But it’s based on chili sauce, which makes it rather unique.
Not a recipe, but just an unexpectedly temporaly apt description of a Temperance barbeque put on by a g-stutter-uncle.
And the Rushville Band regaled them all with Temperance Songs.
@SiubhanDuinne: What an awesome retirement plan! If he’s a judge on Food Network BBQ competition shows, I’ve probably seen him; I watch those programs regularly.
@aimai: That sounds fantastic!
@Yatsuno: Intriguing! I’ve been tempted to substitute chili sauce for ketchup in sauce recipes but have never tried it.
I like vinegar based sauces the least…blech
When I have lots of time (hardly ever) and an expensive rack of ribs (also hardly ever) I go full Memphis Dry Rub for two hours in the fridge, then apply a Kansas City Classic Barbeque sauce from a recipe online from the pros. It’s a stunningly delicious way to go, but takes a lot of time and effort.
If I’m lazy and in a hurry, my very favorite commercial sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet Vidalia Onion sauce. I like thick, tomato-based sauce and this one’s got some tang to it.
Right with you on the lazy hurried thing, and love me some Sweet Baby Ray’s, though haven’t tried the VO version, which sounds fantastic!
Wilson, NC: (Bill’s or Parker’s) Hot pepper chips, (cider) vinegar, a little Worcestershire and oak chips=Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce (pork and chicken.) Don’t forget the corn sticks and cole slaw. No sugar, please!
Upstate South Carolina: Mustard, butter, Worcestershire for chickens, slow-cooked over oak fire. Add it to mostly pork, some beef cooked to a “do-Jesus” in a some water=Hash for over rice. Non Plus Ultra.
Low country South Carolina barbeque sauce: Sweet and inedible. Local hash, an abomination.
Favorite barbecue sauce is my mom’s. Don’t know where she got it, but it involves tomato juice, catsup, worcestershire (sp?) sauce, apple-cider vinegar, brown sugar, chopped garlic, a bit of chili powder, and dried mustard. Sits on the stove simmering for hours and smells awesome.
I have some chicken legs marinating in this Honey Sriracha sauce right now — I’ll report back tonight.
@Betty Cracker: It’s a fascinating flavour profile. It has Worcestershire, white vinegar, dried onions, and mustard powder, and you swirl out the bottle of chili sauce and let it cook down. It really only takes about 15 minutes to make but it is soooo good! I really need to take notes next time she makes it.
Oh and tell me this woman does not look tickled pink here. Go on. I dare you.
all well made bbq sauces are good. vinegar and red pepper, mustard based (hot or sweet), catsup based (hot or sweet or both), you name it, i’ll eat it.
when i’s a lad back in grinsboro north carolina during the middle of the last century, my junior high school science teacher, mr yelverton, had a barbeque diner downtown. and bein’ about 20 miles from lexington nc (where the “piedmont” sauce gets its name: “Lexington-style NC BarBQ”) mr yelverton had to be explicit in his signage there on Greene St:
“Yelverton’s East Carolina Barbecue.”
Gawd, if I had Bob Dylan’s “$10,000 at the drop of a hat,” I’d wish it on a Saturday afternoon at Yelverton’s, eating a barbeque sandwich, a bowl of Brunswich stew, and a handful of hushpuppies…
Anybody have suggestions for a no-carb bbq sauce? Preferably without fake sweeteners, as those things always taste like rock candy on metal to me.
@scav: Ain’t no beer. Th’ hell kinda “southern barbecue” is that?
Damn Yankee do-gooders, mutter mutter…
At this point I’d buy any tomato based sauce that wasn’t loaded with corn syrup. Usually I end up making my own.
Sweet Baby Ray’s onion, which was discontinued I think :-(
I like all of the abovementioned sauces and there isn’t a style I will turn down, even though I’ve lived in NC for 26 years. Life’s too short to be a food snob.
I didn’t mean to overstate; he’s not a judge on any of the FN shows; it’s just that occasionally they’ve filmed competitions where he has been a judge and have included snippets of his comments (edited down from much longer interviews). I would tell you that he’s the great big bearded guy in t-shirt and baseball cap, but that wouldn’t distinguish him from 95% of the judges :-)
@Betty Cracker: Ketchup?! I use Hunt’s crushed tomatoes. That way I can control the amount and type of sweetener. Cumin and Serranos are also stock items.
I’ve never tried a mustard-based sauce. Nor a vinegar-based one. Do you have some tips?
@Citizen_X: What can I say? That lot mostly came through NC, KY and TN from what I can tell. Had a momentary blip. And at least some of them bred true. My less stuttery relatives slid off their share of barstools and the area’s got a least one solid bootlegger hero making the run from Capone’s Chicago. film?
Awesome! Where was this? Plymouth MA?
For me, any BBQ is good, but the bestest BBQ in the whole wide world, hands down, is at Lexington BBQ #1 in Lexington, NC. A tray of outside meat with a side of Cheer Wine. The meat is like the apotheosis of meat and hardwood coals — not smoky, exactly, it just embodies the wood. There is nothing like it. The sauce they serve is very simple, thin and hot – the meat’s the thing. We once drove 1000 miles to eat there. Dang.
BBQ sauce is a lot like chili. Everyone thinks their’s is the definitive one and everybody else’s is heresy. I once read a cookbook that took two pages to list all the things you’re NOT supposed to put in chili.
@tybee: I’m the same way; I like any well-made sauce. Sort of like pizza — deep dish, thin crust, NY-style, I love ’em all.
That said, vinegar-heavy sauces are my least fave, hence I’ve neglected to make it for the mister over the past 20 years. He’ll probably love it; he eats fries with vinegar. I may end up regretting this…
@Svensker: Plymouth Illinois. Tad more in Hancock than McDonough county. I’m also, now that I think of it, liking the early mention of sheep being a part of the tradition. Not enough sheep bbq any more.
@John Weiss: I’ve never made a mustard-based sauce from scratch. I can let you know if this vinegar-based sauce is decent in a few hours!
Try the Everyday Maven site — she does “clean eating” and “paleo,” which tend to be grain-free and low-sugar by nature.
You will probably need a small amount of sugar to counteract the acidity of the other ingredients (particularly the tomatoes), but you should be able to keep it to a minimum.
Texas style- thin in consistency, and not sweet.
I’m making this right now
Braised Chicken with Mojo Sauce
I’ll serve it with grilled pineapple and avocado, black beans and yellow rice!
Soppin sauce or moppin sauce!
@Mnemosyne: Thanks! I’m dipping my toe in the waters of paleo/primal/whole30/trendy-whatever after a bout of food poisoning*, and what a surprise! 10 days without corn syrup, flour, and sugar, and I feel great.
*street-side chicken and waffles. great idea in theory, less so in practice.
Kentucky’s about the only place that still does it regularly.
I seem to remember that Lincoln liked mutton BBQ — maybe it was an Illinois tradition back in the day.
@raven: I need to do a pork shoulder in a mojo sauce so the lad from Miami will quit downvoting my Cubano sammiches!
@raven: I love mojo sauce. Sour orange marinade (another Cuban staple) is also da bomb.
@Svensker: Well, there’s an Abe Lincoln, said to be kin, in Fountain Green nearby, so maybe it was a KY-IL thing. Interesting.
NC has Lexington style, I guess that’s the “piedmont” style, eastern, and western. I like the eastern and Lexington, the western I don’t care for. I accept that most people not raised on the vinegary eastern stuff don’t care for it, though. If you go to Raleigh, I would try here because it’s eastern style, but they set out sauces so you can doctor the flavor.
For bottled sauces, I like bone suckin’ and sticky fingers sauces, no HFCS, can’t say they’re no-carb though.
M.C. Simon Milligan
I use chili sauce as the base in a recipe I learned from Hot Rod Wilburn who had a popular shack down on MLK Blvd in Chattanooga many moons ago. Up on the Cumberland Plateau, where I’m from, BBQ sauce is tomato based and the meat is pork. End of.
Well, not really the end of. I went a married me a woman from the plateau on the other side of the mountains so I never don’t get an argument over both of those premises.
@Betty Cracker: Thank you ma’am. Got a meeting about setting up a radio station. I’ll check in a bit.
@Pogonip: last time i checked, Bone Suckers didn’t have hfcs in it, at least the thin version didn’t. You can get it at Cracker Barrel, I’ve seen it at Lowe’s and other places, and it’s good. It’s sweet and slightly hot/spicy.
Organic ketchup also doesn’t have Hfcs in it, and is much better than standard ketchup. I buy the Publix brand.
You can mix a vinegar based with a tomato based bbq sauce to cut sweetness, carbs and calories.
What about Alabama White Sauce. I’m from Alabama and had never heard of it till I was in Nashville BBQ place.
Good for you Betty,
Life’s not complete without some of that hot-vinegary East Carolina barbecue. This coming from a Nebraska Yankee!
In the triangle, skip the Pit in Raleigh, they lost their chef. Try Backyard BBQ. You won’t regret it.
@Birthmarker: Thanks! We don’t have Publix around here, unfortunately.
I buy a no-corn-syrup salsa called Amish Wedding, which just cracks me up. (“After the traditional barn raising, the Amish wedding party engages in the traditional Amish Mexican hat dance.”)
i’m a big fan of eastern NC style.
no mustard, please.
i like the standard supermarket smokey tomato-based well enough, too.
shout out to Bone Suckin’. my favorite use for it is to glaze some pan-fried, lightly-breaded bite-sized chunks of grouper. place in Raleigh called the Irregardless Cafe served something like it at one point – i stole the idea and made it my own.
This is my go to sauce for BB ribs, I do a dry rub in a beer soaked marinate for around 24 hours, the slow cook in foil packets (220 degrees) for around 3-4 hours. Then remove from foil and either finish in the oven at 350 or throw on the grill and finally baste with the sauce 4-5 times every 10 minutes or so for around 45 minutes. The coffee/bourbon flavor is amazing, and I usually cook up a big batch of sauce so I can do several dinners and have a frozen ziplock ready of the sauce.
@L Allen: I’d never heard of it either (despite spending a lot of time visiting relatives in Mobile) until I read about it in Southern Living several years ago. I guess it’s a North AL thing? Haven’t tried it yet, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.
When I’m BBQ’ing, I marinade in 50:50 beer:tarragon vinegar + garlic + black pepper + lemon zest + orange zest + paprika
Smoke at ~200F with regular dousing with marinade…. Mmm mmm mmm.
I’ve got Cuban sandwich lust after going to see Chef Friday night! I used to get great sandwiches at the Little Havana Sandwich Shop on Buford Highway in Atlanta, of all places. Duno if it’s still around.
Chef is pretty good. Veers between engaging freshness and amiable Hollywood cliché, but the food porn is worth it. It’s not a must-see in the theater, but it’s worth seeing in the theater.
The first bbq sauce I remember having is my home town’s. Jim’s Rib Haven in Rock Island, IL. It’s not terribly sweet, clearly has vinegar in it, kind of thin as opposed to syrupy. Since it’s northern Illinois I have no idea if it’s based on the Carolina sauces but I think it may be. I spent a fair amount of time there over the last year dealing with my father’s estate and ate there every time I went in. I think I may miss that more than anything else in that town.
@SteveinSC: Yep, you’re right. Vinegar or mustard. None of that sugar stuff that’s like a dessert.
Culture of Truth
Recently some friends dragged me to Ruby Tuesday’s. Since I rarely get to eat BBQ, I ordered the ribs, Memphis dry rub style. It was probably the worst retaurant meal I’ve ever had.
J R in WV
I like Cubano food from 2 years in Key West back in the early 1970s… I like BBQ and have had it in lots of places, as we take driving vacations both short and distantly long.
We drove to Raleigh once by crossing the Blue Ridge and driving on the little gray and blue lines on the map. We started to get into more populated country just into NC, and coming into a town we saw Aunt Polly’s BBQ. Had to stop, was hungry anyways.
They had a whole hog roasted, cole slaw of several flavors, several hot sauces and BBQ sauces, but recommended the vinegary East Carolina sauce, which I used with sopme extra hot sauce. MMM good.
Missouri and Kansas also do a good BBQ pit, as does Nashville. My first time through Nashville I was alone and trying to make good time. I got through the city headed north, and stopped at what looked like the last big commercial intersection with multiple hotels.
When I went out for dinner, I drove around the intersection a little bit, and hit paydirt with a small square brick building with a big parking lot. They had newspaper clippings framed on the walls from all over the country, including the NYTimes, Chicago, LA, NOLA, etc. It was good. They also had East Carolina sauce.
Lately in a little Asian grocery I found a bottle of clear vinegary sauce, in what looked like an old clear whisky bottle, with garlic and peppers floating in a mostly clear white vinegar which turned out to be fermented coconut milk, with lots of spices. When I ran out of it, and went back, they were out, and never got any more in, and didn’t remember where they had gotten it in the first place. It was Filipino, is all I could be sure of.
So I set out to duplicate it as best I could. Vinegar, sliced serrano peppers, slightly crushed garlic cloves, Thai fish sauce, soy sauce, whole allspice, cloves, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper. In a quart, maybe a teaspoon of sugar. Or less. If I was a fermenting man, I would get a bunch of coconuts, open them, and ferment the milk. As it is I just use distilled vinegar, mixed with unflavored rice vinegar. Let it sit as long as you can stand in the fridge. This is more complex that the original Filipino bottle I got at the Asian Mart.
I marinate with it, baste with it, drool it onto meats and dribble it into soups and stews. Not always, I don’t always have it on hand. But I make it in a big blue mason jar, and a little goes a long way. The whole spices can be various, depending on the time of year and my mood. A little bit usually does it for any strong spice, two or three cloves for example. Or anise stars, etc.
Tonight just gonna thaw a couple of Lamb Saag dinners, been busy today.
This is a weird Syracuse/Central NY thing, but there’s this place called Sal’s Birdland, which makes wings that are breaded, fried, and doused in a sweet, peppery mustard-based sauce that is indescribable. Syracuse also claims provenance for Dinosaur BBQ, which also does amazing things with red (tomato-based) sauces.
Central New York: Barbecue hotspot. Who would have thunk it?
@John Weiss: Update: It was good! I used the same recipe as linked above, except I used 50% more red pepper flakes, twice the hot sauce and omitted the W sauce (only because I was out).
@J R in WV: You are a culinary adventurer!
My sauce is orange marmalade, teriyaki sauce, dill weed, sea salt, paprika, black pepper, lemon juice and bourbon. Mix to taste. Best on chicken.
Hell, please note I eat raw oysters, salt herring and sushi. My palate may differ than yours.
@Pogonip: The Publix organic ketchup is identical to the name brand ketchup it sits next to- either Hunt’s or Heinz. It wil remind you of the way ketchup used to taste.
@L Allen: I grew up in Bham and never heard of white BBQ sauce til I moved to North Alabama. The BBQ spot in the gas station down the road a couple of miles has the best iteration of white BBQ sauce I’ve ever had. Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur gets a lot of credit for having a good recipe but to me theirs is nothing special. Saw’s in Bham has a good version of it. It’s not that hard to make at home. It’s just mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and lots of pepper, and a good long chill. (The turkey at Big Bob Gibson’s is to die for, though…)
@cleek: I’ m dying here. That sounds so good!!
Honey Sriracha marinade was tasty, though I realized too late that I was out of fresh ginger and had to sprinkle in some ground ginger instead, which I think affected the taste. It was not too spicy for my wimpy taste buds, so people who like their chicken spicy may want to add some red pepper flakes.
Sweet Baby Rays is the go-to standby, and when I traipse through Blairsville en route to Altoona, PA, there’s no passing by Clem’s without stopping for takeout and extra jars.
North Alabama. White sauce. Muscle Shoals music, Drive By Truckers, Alabama Shakes. Tennessee is 3 states east to west, Alabama is 3 states north to south
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
@donnah: That’s pretty much how I do it too – a dry spice rub and then an (often) KC-style sauce on top. I sometimes mix my own sauce too, but it usually contains ketchup, vinegar and spices and turns out kind of like a KC style sauce. If you like it spicy, a ground Chimayo chile sauce is really good too. Recipe here: http://www.potrerotradingpost.com/Recipes/SaucewMolido.html
Betty C. thanks for the tip about the vinegar BBQ sauce. If I can figure out what I do, I’ll send you a recipe for some kick-ass Texas BB sauce.
Depends upon the meat. Brisket? No sauce at all. Texas dry rub all the way, baby. Ribs or chicken? Penzey’s Galena Street rub for seasoning, then maybe *MAYBE* a minimalist glaze that doesn’t involve ketchup near the end. Pork? A demiglace right before serving so it doesn’t cool down the meat too much.