Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Maybe Make Great Homemade Barbecue Sauce

It may come as a surprise to some - because I'm fundamentally lazy and have almost no discernable talent at anything - but I'm a decent cook and I love to improvise recipes. I'm no gourmet chef, but I can actually produce tasty food that doesn't originate in a cardboard box.

On the other hand, I'll stack my Hamburger Helper
against any of those Food Network snobs all day long.
 The thing is, I don't exactly use recipes. That's actually the mark of a good cook in many cases; after all, don't we all brag about how our grandmothers just threw in a pinch of this and a dash of that and made ambrosia out of sawdust and parsley?

Granny made a delicious fricassee from roadkill and wild herbs.
It helped that the wild herbs were mostly ditchweed.
So I'm going to add the caveat that the mark of a good cook is also consistency. You know, as in you take a pinch of this and a dash of that and make ambrosia that actually tastes roughly the same twice in a row. Yeah, that's where my cooking skills take a bit of a hit. I can make almost anything once. Making it the same way twice is like expecting Joe Biden to utter two coherent viewpoints in a row.

I'm comfortable with gay marriage!
My feet grable bitty chop suey mudflap tortoise!
 For example, the other day I made homemade barbecue sauce for the first time. Beloved Spouse wanted something that tasted better than the over-processed bottled stuff from the grocery store. And I didn't want to spend ten dollars on a bottle of the "gourmet" kind that's all natural and flavored with authentic cowboy testicles or whatever. So I thought, eh, what have I got to lose? And I whipped up a batch. After all, I had seen my ex-brother-in-law make his own sauce, and he's a total...wait, my nephew follows this blog sometimes. So I figured if my dear ex-bro-in-law could do it, I could do it.

To cut to the chase: Oh my god, I made a batch of the most delicious freaking barbecue sauce ever.

It tasted like nibbling on Orlando Bloom's neck.
Or so I would think.
And I'd love to share the recipe with you. Here it is.

Chuck Baudelaire's Damn Fine Barbecue Sauce

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. vinegar
a bunch of shakes of this really good seasoning mix I found that I think is made by Morton's
a few dashes of chili powder

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together over low heat and stir well. Taste. Probably it's going to be a little too sweet, so add like a couple of extra drops of vinegar at a time until it's a little bit tangy but not too much. Then you'll probably want some more of that seasoning mix because I'll bet you used too light a hand the first time. Unless you didn't, and then be careful adding more because you don't want it to taste like a pot of salt. If you want it a little spicy, add some more chili powder. Let it simmer for a few minutes between additions, because it takes a little time for the flavor to come out. Oh, same for the seasoning mix - I should have mentioned that earlier. Oops, hope you didn't go overboard there. If it starts to taste not sweet enough or not tangy enough or whatnot, add a little bit more of the sweet or tangy or whatnot ingredients a little bit at a time until it tastes right. Remember to let it cook, and keep stirring because you don't want little burnt bits to get scraped up from the bottom of the pot. That shit's gross. If you add too much of everything, put in another can of tomato paste to dilute it back to being way too bland and then start adding ingredients again, but this time be more careful for Christ's sake. And don't let it boil or it'll splatter everywhere. Too late? Well, clean it up quick - tomato paste totally clots and gets hard when it cools down. When it's perfect, pour it into a squeeze bottle or a jar or whatever. Refrigerate between uses. Yum.

As you can see, it's very simple. And damn, it's good. At least it was this time. I have no idea what will happen when the first bottle runs out. Maybe next time it'll taste like ketchup with a rash. It happens. But most of all, I hope you enjoy your homemade barbecue sauce just as much, assuming it doesn't taste like ass.

I believe that's what they call the joy of cooking.

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