We’re bringing back Laura Davis’ favorite barbecue sauce just in time for Labor Day Weekend.
By Laura Davis
If you have ever witnessed conversations or been a part of one about barbecue preferences, you know it can get kinda heated like when people start talking politics or religion. It is a subject that evokes a lot of passion. In the US everyone has a favorite barbecue sauce or style. In one area of the Carolinas it is vinegar based with a bit of cayenne and black pepper and in another area it is mustard based and yellow. In the deep south, it is a tomato based, tangy sweet sauce and they are not adverse to spicing up. In Alabama, where I am from, there is also a white sauce that is mayonnaise and vinegar based that is considered a regional classic and I don’t think I have seen anything like it anywhere else. Memphis is known for their dry rub barbecue but also has a sauce similar to Kansas City but is not as sweet and is thinner, but still tomato and vinegar based. Texas barbecue is not so easily defined.
Texas really sets themselves apart from the rest because they tend to smoke their meats which can be simply incredible with or without barbecue sauce. Brisket is king but is accompanied by pork, sausage, chicken, turkey, duck, beef and pork ribs. If you can catch it, they probably will barbecue it. They take prepping and smoking their meats very seriously. “Low and slow” is a popular saying meaning keep the heat low and cook for a longer period of time. There are variations from one pit master to another but that is the beauty of Texas barbecue. It is unique and innovative. You can eat your way across Texas and not have the same barbecue twice. It is quite the culinary adventure and completely delicious, and it may even challenge what your favorite barbecue really is although I think most are beholden to what they grew up with. The sauces can be any style and many times they are recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, so on the subject of barbecue, you cannot mess with Texas. There are barbecue trails you can drive to experience some of the longtime, famous spots and they range from roadside stands or dives to fine dining.
One spot west of Austin which is dear to my heart (or maybe just my stomach) is Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. It is the Texas barbecue experience at its best and they have a unique barbecue sauce that is delicious and quite the secret. All I know about it is that it is not tomato based, has mustard and sugar in it and has regional spices in it. Their barbecue is some of the best I have ever had and we are already making plans to go back.
Now you might think that Texas barbecue is my favorite and you would be right, but I love them all. Where ever and when ever I am having delicious barbecue, it is the best! Since I can’t get to some of the many barbecue places I love because most are in Texas and I am not, I make do by making my own barbecue sauce and do the grilling myself. I have not found a favorite barbecue place in Pennsylvania yet, but I am still looking.
Now that I have shared my opinion on barbecue, I would love to hear yours, so please leave a comment if you have one. Amazingly, there is always something new (or old!) to learn about barbecue and it is a lot of fun.
This recipe was adapted from Fiery Barbecue Sauce in The Southern Living Cookbook 1987. I have used this sauce on everything from ribs to chicken, burgers to vegetables and it works really well. It has good tang and sweetness and I love spicing it up. I have been making this sauce for years and I have probably never made it exactly the same twice. The chili powders can be tweaked by using different kinds and I don’t use a commercial blend but use pure chili powders like ground chipotle or ground New Mexican chili. Honey can be substituted for the brown sugar, peach or orange juice can be substituted for some or all of the water and so forth.
Originally Published: August 30, 2013