As a kid, my family went on a "BBQ Tour of the South" to find the greatest version of BBQ sauce on offer. I don't totally remember the verdict, but I do remember getting a wicked sunburn on Tybee Island a week before the 8th Grade Dance (dammit.) However, I came out of this excursion with a great fondness for all varieties of BBQ, and turning vegetarian has not altered it one bit.
However, not all my favorite BBQ sauces are vegan, and I cannot stand to use those Kraft or similar fake-ass BBQ sauces that are all corn syrup and onion powder. So, rather than stock up on sauce the last time I went to the US, I made sure to get some fixings to bring back so I could make it myself: most crucially, molasses and liquid smoke, both difficult to find here in Berlin.
Yesterday, eyeing a block of tofu in the fridge and not wanting to indulge S's newfound obsession with deep-fried tofu, I decided to whip up some BBQ sauce and bake some slabs instead. I was a bit intimidated though... could anything I make approach the level of greatness of North Carolina or Memphis style BBQ sauce? I decided there wasn't much to lose in giving it a whirl. I looked up several recipes and combined them into one that featured the ingredients I had on hand, including a chipotle from an already opened can. (Never waste chipotles, that is my mantra.)
And upon taste, it turns out BBQ sauce is kind of... um.... easy? I mean, this may have not been a blue ribbon winning version, but it was damn tasty for something I made in less than 30 minutes. For a sauce that inspires such cult-like reverence in its followers, shouldn't this be a little more complex?
Well I'm sure I could stand some improvement, but this will more than do for those occasions which necessitate a slathering of BBQ to save the day. Here's my simple recipe. Feel free to alter it.
*Perfectly Decent BBQ Sauce*
1 small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs. brown sugar or Agave nectar
1 diced Chipotle + 1 Tbs. adobo sauce
1/3 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 C. Molasses
1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
Salt + pepper
1 tsp. liquid smoke (opt.)
1.) Heat a saucepan over medium and add in a glug of vegetable oil. Add in onions and salt well, then wait until onions are translucent. Add in garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more, being careful not to burn.
2.) Add in remaining ingredients (except for liquid smoke, add it at the end if using) and raise heat to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes (or more), stirring occasionally.
3.) When sauce has reached desired thickness, remove from heat and blend well with an immersion blender. Taste and adjust salt/ sugar if necessary. Put back on low heat, stir in liquid smoke, and cook a few minutes more.
Remaining sauce can be kept in an airtight container in fridge.
*Substitutions* : I imagine you can go wild with substitutions here, subbing pomengranate molasses for molasses, white vinegar for apple cider, chile peppers or cayenne pepper for chipotle and other fruits(like mangoes for instance?) for the tomatoes. I will try it again soon and let you know.
The finished product slathered on some tofu and broiled for a perfect simple sandwich. (Number 30, anyone?) Just heavenly, and you don't even have to leave the house, let alone head south on 85.
Song of the Day: LCD Soundsystem- I Can Change