Making a Mean Sauce

We’ve made this together before and I shared how I learned it as well. But for the sake of your occasional lost memories, I’ll go though it again.

My grandfather (my mother’s father) cooked. He taught me how to grill, bake pies, make a decent roast. And he taught me this basic barbecue sauce recipe.

Remember this is a recipe of unmeasured amounts, though I always mix mine up in a 2 cup Pyrex measure. And like the dressing, make only what you need.

This recipe is flexible too. The base consists of a tomato sauce (catsup, tomato pur̩e, unseasoned tomato sauce, or during desperate times Рa can on condensed tomato soup), a sweetener (honey, OR brown sugar OR molasses), a mustard (yellow, Dijon, brown), liquid smoke, seasonings (Worcestershire sauce, OR BBQ rub seasoning) AND liquid smoke

The one we made together was pretty basic but my go-to for ribs or chicken on the grill.

You need:

1 c tomato base (catsup in this case)

1 generous handful of brown sugar

2 TBSP of BBQ rub seasoning

1 tsp of yellow mustard

And a few drops of liquid smoke (to taste)

Mix until all is incorporated and smooth. Taste it and be sure it is how you remember it.

If it’s too sweet add more tomato base and a little more mustard.

Not smokey enough? A few more drops of liquid smoke.

Not sweet enough? A little more sweetener.

Too Smokey? Make more of the base without the smoke and add to your too smokey concoction.

This is another where you use whatever is on hand that fits the basic recipe premise.

This should cover both sides of a rack of ribs or all areas of a whole chicken.

Never reuse the sauce days later if you have leftovers. Cross contamination of meat juices from partially cooked meats is a recipe for an all night date with the toilet.

Seriously only make what you need. If you had to double it due to a “too smokey” situation, split what you have into two containers so that you don’t have to pitch any leftovers.

You should be able to keep the overage for about a week tightly covered in the fridge.

**A note about molasses: a little goes a long way and it has a powerful dimension of flavor. If you use it start conservatively until you have the taste where you like it.

Dressing for Success

I will not leave you without you knowing how to make the dressings and sauces I made for you. My grandfather’s cousin made a killer dressing for salads which I never had the recipe. She made it from scratch every time and would pour it over iceberg lettuce and it was hella good!

Another was made by my mother’s mother and it was simply a hot dressing made from what I believed to be hot bacon grease and scratchings with vinegar and she would dress bitter greens with it. I never knew how to make them, lord knows I tried some experiments; but they never quite met my memory of them.

If anything I can leave you in terms of knowledge about cooking, is that you do not have to buy bottled dressings or sauces. You’re better off making it on the fly. Use only what you need in the moment.

If you need a salad dressing you need to know I make one dressing but then doctor it to be whatever I need it to be.

The base consists of an oil, a sweetener, a seasoning, and some acidic agent. I start with 1/4 c of olive oil. Then the sweetener (to taste) is either a balsamic vinegar reduction (light or dark), OR honey. Any acidic agent could be a citrus juice, pomegranate, cranberry (unsweetened), dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar. Seasonings, could be any herbs, spices or onion or garlic – just to give it punch.

It is a flexible dressing.
Honey mustard dressing you say?
1/4 c Olive oil
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard (either creamy or the seedy kind)
A generous squeeze of honey (but be careful- start small and add to taste)

Use a fork to whisk it together until smooth.

That citrus salad dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
The juice of one lemon (lime) (orange)
A generous squeeze of light balsamic vinegar reduction glaze (you can make this from scratch too)
2-3 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh ground pepper

Use a fork to whisk it together until all is incorporated. It is best if you let it rest for a while to let the garlic infuse with the dressing.

An Italian dressing?
1/4 c Olive Oil
a splash of the apple cider vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves
Fresh minced oregano and basil

Whisk until smooth.

Get creative with it. I did a lime and crushed mint vinaigrette for a fruit salad using this method.