In our household, there are four seasons: Winter, spring, summer and football. That is, if you’re talking to my Dallas Cowboys-crazed husband, Dan.
For me? All I know is that there’s a pre-season, season, post-season, and – because life can’t be all about football – planting season.
Trust me, I wish I were the kind of girl that had passion for the sport. I’ve tried- really, I have. I’ve bought the jerseys, Googled the terminology and listened to my husband rant and rave (depending on the day) about Tony Romo’s qualifications. But despite my best efforts, my appreciation for football begins and ends with clever commercials and Romo’s dimples.
Luckily, I can cheerfully look forward to football season each year, knowing I can spend my time in the kitchen playing with new recipes and testing my food on friends and family. And with Dan’s recent purchase of a charcoal smoker, the focus of the main course has switched to barbecue, which works perfectly since I prefer sides, sauces and sweets.
While Dan’s been experimenting with the smoker, I’ve been testing homemade BBQ sauce recipes. I’ve found that making your own homemade barbecue sauce is as easy as measuring, dumping, stirring and simmering. Using mostly pantry staples, a large quantity of rich, thick barbecue sauce can be whipped up with minimal effort. The flavor of the sauce can be easily adjusted by controlling the spices and sugar, giving you room to experiment in each batch you create.
What I love about this particular recipe is the layers of flavors- spicy, tangy, smoky and sweet. I recently pressed 45 pounds of vine-ripened tomatoes from my parents’ garden, so I used two cups of fresh tomato juice, which imparted a brighter flavor to the sauce.
Even if you’re not planning on smoking ribs, pulled pork or brisket during this tailgate season, this barbecue sauce works on anything— from pizza to wraps to burgers. Pair with coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans and you’ll be ready to enjoy any game— even the ones you’re not watching.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce
2 cups ketchup
2 cups tomato sauce
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 ¼ cups red wine vinegar
½ cup unsulphured molasses
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
4 tsp. hickory-flavored liquid smoke
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. celery seed
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together all wet ingredients and then add seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken as it simmers (and then as it cools). Simmer for at least an hour for optimal results. Use sauce to brush onto meats the last 10 minutes of grilling or for any other recipe where barbecue sauce is used.
Once cooled, the sauce can be frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator and use as needed. Yields about seven cups.