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Spo-fans are asking – nay, demanding! – I write about BBQ sauce. Here it goes……

People have been barbequing since the caveman days. Alongside this ageless cuisine is the passion for some sort of sauce to go along with the mastodon steaks. Newer Spo-fans may not know Urs Truly has a long time hobby of making and collecting BBQ sauces.  I remember as a boy my father used a BBQ sauce called Woody’s*.   When it came to taste I thought it beat ketchup by a country mile. Even then I was in pursuit of ‘proper’ sauce.  I am not certain how it got into my head at a tender age  BBQ should be made, not bought** but there it is. Don Quixote-like I have been on a search for the ultimate sauce ever since.

To my childish disappointment I learned BBQ sauce isn’t some complex ineffable substance of many ingredients (usually) but a simple balance of four elements. These four ersatz Archetypes are: heat, sweet, spice, and tang. Sounds like a law firm, don’t it?  Nearly all sauces are a mixture of these for elements.

Heat < peppers, hot sauces

Sweet < honey, molasses, brown/white sugar, and syrups.

Spice < lots of lovelies

Tang < ‘umami’ things like Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, tomato products.

I have recipes to go with spicy cuisine, to ‘cover up a cheap cut of meat’, for thems who don’t like the taste of tomatoes (oh the pain!). After decades of experiments with complicated many-ingredient sauces, I learned the ones best are simple, balanced, and easy – like my men.

Mind! People get awfully queer about BBQ sauce. Go on line and boost you have ‘the best” and brace yourself for a backlash with all the subtlety of negative Youtube comments. States and regions boast their sauce is the best and don’t question it.

What “Best BBQ sauce” turns out to mean is in the same league as asking what is the ‘best wine”. The answer: it depends. I enjoy white and roses for summer sipping but when I have a hearty stew at Christmas time I want something red, tannic, and strong – like my men.

One of my first attempts in my quest for the best resulted in one a perfect harmony of the four elements. In a way this was a disappointment.  It felt like starting off on an adventure to locate Blackbeard’s treasure only to find it at the first island stop.

Over the years and trials I’ve kept a dozen recipes but here are my three favorites. For the Spo-fans interested in making some of them I suggest you follow the recipe precisely, and then alter the next batch to taste.


#1 – Urspo BBQ Sauce – My favorite and best for the right balance of heat, sweat, spicy, and tang. 

2 cups ketchup    (l use Hunt’s; it has a bit more umami than does Heinz).

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

2T Molasses

2T Dijon mustard

1.5 T  Tabasco sauce

1 T c hili powder

½ t  freshly ground pepper.

2 t  liquid smoke

1 T horseradish – optional 

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat =until bubbling. Turn down the heat to low and simmer for half an hour.
To sweeten it: add more molasses.
To make it hotter: add more Tabasco or replace it with a hotter sauce (I like Melinda’s).
To give it more tang: increase the Worcestershire.

For Someone, I often add 1T horseradish for he loves it so.


#2 – South Carolina Mustard Sauce – this one has no tomato. 

1 cup of yellow mustard 

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 t. black pepper

1 T. chili powder

1/2 t. cayenne pepper

1/2 t. salt

1 T. butter

Whisk together in a saucepan all ingredients but the butter.  Bring to a slight boil; turn off heat. Stir in the butter. Let cool to room temperature.


#3 – Zin Sauce – this one is not ‘hot; it has a dominant tangy/umami taste for thems not wanting something too hot/spicy. 

1 cup of zinfandel wine

2 small cans of tomato paste

1 t cumin

1 t crush bay leaf

1 t pepper

1 t paprika 

1 t dry mustard

3.5 t chili powder

2 t sugar

1 t salt 

Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes. Turn off heat;  give 10 minutes more to cool down.

Spo-fans are quite welcome to share with me their favorite recipes.


*I don’t know if this BBQ sauce still exists. The images from the internet look nothing like the Woody’s bottle I recall from the 60s. I would be keen to get hold of some if only to see if it resembles anything from my childhood.


**Someone likes a store-bought sauce named Stubb’s BBQ. I find it near blasphemy to have corn syrup in my sauce.  It is a sweetener that adds no flavor but sweet.  No fun this.

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July 2018

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