Barbecue-season tips fill this week’s food section. Whether the fuel is charcoal or gas, the top-10 list supplied by Weber grillmeister Jamie Purviance should help backyard cooks fine-tune their craft this summer.
When it comes to grilling, one tenet holds true: Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. Liquid smoke, that is.
Among the hundreds of commercially prepared barbecue sauces, liquid smoke is a ubiquitous ingredient. Such was the lament of longtime reader Chris G., who emailed several weeks back to inquire if I knew of a liquid smoke-less brand of sauce.
My first inclination, of course, was to suggest making her own sauce. It’s a straightforward process with room to perfect the flavor profile according to preference. But out of curiosity, I Googled “barbecue sauce no liquid smoke” and several variations on the phrase. The search returned plenty of recipes, but no references to bottled sauces lacking liquid smoke.
What say you, readers? Any recommendations?
In the meantime, here is a versatile sauce traditionally used on pork in North Carolina. It makes enough for one good-size shoulder or butt for pulled pork, according to Detroit Free Press recipe testers. Or try it as a marinade for country-style ribs. Refrigerate them for 24 hours and then slow-roast them, basting with more sauce.
Barbecue, basting or mop sauces historically hail from specific regions. South Carolina has vinegar-and-mustard-based sauces, St. Louis favors tomato-based sauces while Kansas City, Mo., boasts an even sweeter version. And Alabama has a lesser-known, mayonnaise-based, white barbecue sauce.
But Purviance, author of “Weber’s New American Barbecue: A Modern Spin on the Classics” (Hougton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99), says sauces no longer define their traditional areas as chefs and barbecue cooks nationwide put their own touch on barbecue according to their roots and experiences.
Carolina Eastern-Style Barbecue Sauce
3 tablespoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons of salt
1/4 cup molasses
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 quart of white vinegar
In a large bowl, mash together crushed red pepper, ground black pepper, salt, molasses and garlic. Stir in the vinegar; mix. Allow to stand for several hours. Use as a marinade or basting sauce for pork.
Makes 3 cups.