Cooking on the Cheap: BBQ Sauce Duo

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September 15, 2009 by skwishface

So not that long ago, I roasted up about a hundred pounds of pork. And though the meat was tres tasty on its own, I felt some sauce was in order.

Problem: I didn’t have any barbecue sauce. What I did have was ketchup, mustard, sugar, and vinegar. Turns out that’s all you need. Ultimately, it may be easier to just drop a few bucks on a bottle of pre-made sauce, but it’s definitely cheaper to make your own. You can control quantity and fine-tune the flavors. Also, way more fun.


BBQ Sauce Duo

Yellow Sauce (aka – Tangy Balsamic BBQ Sauce):
1 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cayenne

(printable version here!)

Red Sauce (aka – Dragonbreath Sauce):
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce*

(printable version here!)


These are longer ingredients lists than I usually like for sauces. I have this thing about everything in a meal being complicated. Like I’m not comfortable with the main entree having a bajillion ingredients, and then topping it with a sauce that has another bajillion ingredients. Simple entree, complex sauce. Or complex entree, simple sauce. Or simple with simple. But complex with complex? No ma’am. The pork shoulder I served these with had about four ingredients, so all was right with the world.

My culinary neuroses aside, let’s make some sauce. Gather the ingredients …

Team Red Sauce

Team Red Sauce

Team Yellow Sauce

Team Yellow Sauce

Introduce the ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat. For the Red Sauce, you’ll start by sautee’ing the garlic in the olive oil for a bit.

I underestimated the heat of my pan and nearly burned my garlic. Don't be like me.

I underestimated the heat of my pan and nearly burned my garlic. Don't be like me.

Then it’s everybody in the pan to mix and simmer.

Simmer about 10-15 minutes. Over loooow heat. Ketchup likes to burn.

I underestimated the heat of the pan and nearly fried my ketchup. Don't be like me.

I may have used a smidge more cayenne than is advisable.

Mustard is REALLY REALLY yellow. Soooooo yellow. Alarmingly yellow.

 Stir them up to get rid of all the brown sugar lumps. Keep stirring to avoid burning – there’s a whole buncha sugar in there. For the red sauce, simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Any longer than that, and the sugars in the ketchup will join forces with the sugars in the sugar to form a very strange caramel that nobody wants to eat. For the yellow sauce, simmer about 30 minutes. It’s a pretty thin sauce, and the longer cook time will help to thicken it.

When they’re done cooking, pour your yummy sauces into charming little bowls. Or glass custard cups, if you’re short on charming dinnerware like I am.

Spicy, garlicky, slightly sweet, and VERY red.

Spicy, garlicky, slightly sweet, and VERY red.

Yellow sauce won't be winning any beauty contests, I'm afraid.

Yellow sauce won't be winning any beauty contests, I'm afraid.

 Of these two sauces, the yellow was my favorite. Tangy and sweet with that mustard hint to it, excellent on pork or chicken, and it keeps in the fridge for ages. Red Sauce is a more fickle mistress, it’s flavors being intense and prone to skunkifying if left in the fridge. It’s best to eat the red sauce right away and enjoy is fleeting spicy complexities, before the garlic and adobo have a chance to start conspiring against you.



*Adobo sauce is the magnificent sludge in which canned chipotle peppers are packed. Spicy? Yes. Worth it? Hell yes.


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