Adventures in HAM part II: Hittin’ The Sauce

Recently I wrote about my Adventures in HAM, part of those exploits included a side trip into the universe of BBQ sauce. Last year I went with a more “throw stuff together, figure it out as I go approach”; this year I managed to actually write down the recipe. What I ended up with is a great homemade sauce that can easily be adapted to your tastes and preferences and doesn’t have any thickeners or preservatives, making it a healthy alternative to store-bought options. It can also be used for a wide variety of applications from grilled shrimp to BBQ Tofu to well, anything that would benefit from gettin’ a little sauced.

After some extensive Googling I discovered that the majority of Barbecue sauces that appealed to me use ketchup as a base with a delicate balance of acid, heat, sugar, and a small part “other stuff”. Last year I just went to town squeezing bottles, pouring liquid and throwing spices in much the same way I make everything else. My cooking method generally looks a lot like this (complete with sound effects):

Ingredients in that first attempt included, but were not limited too: ketchup, mustard, apple juice, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, apple cider, lime juice, paprika, chipotle powder, onion powder, garlic salt, mustard powder, cumin, coriander, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. It turned out sweet and tangy with a bit of a kick at the end and much better than anything I’ve ever bought at the store. So if you’re feeling adventurous, please feel free to translate that into some sort of recipe. However, like mixing paint, this is an addition only process and after fine tuning to get the perfect balance, I ended up with literally buckets of the stuff. So this year I thought I would actually write down measurements and proportions so that I could recreate it in the future. This is more of a Kansas style BBQ sauce with a bit of a nod to Texas style which generally involves more spices. I really like cooking with spices, and would highly recommend keeping most of these around for everyday use. But don’t worry if you’re missing anything on the list, work with what you’ve got and feel free to make it your own.

2 cups ketchup (16 oz)
1 can tomato paste (which I apparently didn’t have this time around, and was not the end of the world I had anticipated.)
1/2 cup Bourbon or apple cider (or flavor modifier of choice, more on that later)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (ditto)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (ditto)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 tablespoon ground mustard
4 tablespoon ground onion
4 tablespoon ground garlic
2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon wet mustard
3 tablespoon maple syrup (or Honey)
6 tablespoons Dry Rub (from Adventures in HAM part I)
(or meat seasoning) or:
–    2 teaspoon chili powder                    –     2 teaspoon paprika
–    2 teaspoon onion powder                  –     2 teaspoon garlic powder
–    2 teaspoon ground cumin                  –     2 teaspoon ground cardamom
–    2 teaspoon ground coriander             –      2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
–    1 teaspoon ground black pepper        –     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
–    1 teaspoon ground mustard               –      1 teaspoon ginger
–    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves              –     1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Mix everything in a large pot and bring to a boil. (A whisk really helps to fully incorporate all of the components.)
  2. If you really want to develop the flavors, you could simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. If you don’t have that kind of time, it’s not the end of the world, and it will still be delicious.

A note on Flavor Modifiers:
It’s nice to echo whatever spices you’ve used to flavor your Grilled or BBQ’d meat (or meat substitute) By mixing your spices before cooking, you can make a little extra for this purpose and substitute that for the Rub. Additionally, the Bourbon/Apple Cider and vinegar are good places to play around with the flavor profile. There’s a lot of options for flavor creativity here: wine, beer, pineapple juice, terriyaki, hoisin sauce, plum wine with tamarind paste and maybe dash of fish sauce; lime juice, red or white wine vinegar, can also be used in place of the vinegar. Have fun with it, experiment a little, and go with your gut, it generally knows what it wants.


2 comments so far

  1. […] I made some additions to the Rub, and used the extra to flavor my homemade BBQ Sauce. […]

  2. […] a hot kitchen during a heat wave. I made some additions to the Rub, and used the extra to flavor my homemade BBQ Sauce. It took about 10 hours, and turned out perfectly. Next year I might try setting the roasts to rest […]

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