Monday, April 6, 2015

Recipe: Justin's Kitchen Specialty BBQ Sauce

Making BBQ sauce is not easy. For the past two years, I've been tweaking and improving my BBQ sauce with every time that I make it. I've made all the possible mistakes and I definitely still have room to improve. That being said, I am also immensely proud of this sauce!

For some history, I originally planned my BBQ sauce to be free of region-specific traditions. For example, Kansas City BBQ is generally very sweet and candy like. The Carolinas have a vinegar based mop sauce and in Memphis, they forgo sauce all together and use only dry rub! Well, here in Los Angeles, I can do whatever I want. I've taken inspiration from all of the areas and put them together.

1/2 Smoked Onion
1/2 Smoked Apple
2 cloves Garlic
1-2 tbsp of my special Dry Rub
1 Guajillo Chili Pepper
1 Ancho Chili Pepper
1-2 Bay Leaves
Hot Chili Flakes
1 tbsp Chicken Bouillon Powder
Wet Ingredients
2 tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
2 tbsp Ketchup (without High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
3-4 tbsp Maple Syrup
1-3 tbsp Brown Sugar
3 cups water
1 splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
Thickening Agent
1 heaping tbsp of rice

-If you don't have access to a smoker, use a regular onion and apple instead, but add in a splash of bourbon whiskey!
-Play around with the flavors and taste! Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 30 minutes before adjusting the final flavors.

-Use that liquid smoke bullshit. I mean, what is that?!

The Onions and Apples
One of the very first inspirations I had when making BBQ sauce came from making Japanese curry. To help achieve a sweet and light taste, apples are grated into curry. It helps to add a refreshing flavor in the background, but makes an incredible difference.

I begin by smoking the onions and apples in my smoker using a mix of cherry and apple wood. By doing this, I can naturally impart smokey flavors into the sauce. Do NOT use liquid smoke as a substitute. There's all sorts of who knows what in that bottle.

Simply chop up your onions and apples (or grate in the apples) to a pot and stir fry with olive oil and 2 tbsp of your dry rub mixture. The reasoning behind using the dry rub in the BBQ sauce is to unite the flavors of meat and sauce. Sure, that might sound like a load of made up fluff, but I love the way it makes my smoked ribs taste and I shall stand by it proudly.

The Aromatics
After sweating the apples and onions, add the rest of the dry aromatic ingredients. Stir frying the ingredients in this step helps any oil soluble flavors to be extracted from the seasonings (said by someone somewhere...).

The Wet Ingredients
Add 3 cups of water to start, and all of the wet ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

If you don't have a smoker (most people don't), try using bourbon whiskey instead! I would not recommend using both smoked ingredients and whiskey, for I feel that may be too many competing flavors.

Adding Rice And Blending
The addition of rice is a very recent development in my sauce. Taking inspiration from making tomato bisque, the addition of rice allows for the thickening of the sauce without changing the taste, shelf-life, or cooking process! A corn starch slurry will eventually break down if kept overnight. Flour needs to be cooked and turned into a rue before using. Too much reduction will result in an overly salty or sweet sauce.

I add my rice after the initial 30 minutes of simmering. Allow the rice to fully cook and become saturated with liquid. After doing the final taste test and adjusting water levels, I remove the bay leaves from the pot and blend the sauce. I use an emulsion blender, but any house hold blender will work!

The final consistency of the sauce should allow it to coat the back of a spoon as shown above.

After much thought, I have finally decided to share my recipe with everyone and to anyone who wishes to learn it. It is surely a lot of work for just sauce, but for anyone who has tasted it, you know just how amazing it is.

There are no added preservatives (only the ones already included in the products used), no xanthum gum thickening agents, no food coloring, and none of those mystery ingredients listed in other store brand BBQ sauces. This is as good as it gets, until I discover something new to change about it and improve it further!

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