One Way to Develop Barbecue Sauce
Many people start with a bottled sauce and doctor it up. You can cut the thickness (bottled sauces are usually too thick) and boost the spice fairly easily. My favorite bottled sauce is Maull’s, out of St. Louis, and here are some ideas on how to doctor it.
Start by simmering a bottle of sauce over low heat. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cider vinegar or rice vinegar. Or put in the same amount of beer. A lot of people use Pepsi, which gives a sweet, caramel flavor. Add a tablespoon of granulated or fresh garlic. Throw in a little chili powder for an outdoorsy quality. Maybe add a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. A tablespoon of butter or prepared mustard tastes good, too. And you’d be surprised by how many sauces have a little chocolate in them.
Woody Wood and his wife, Cecelia, out of Waldenburg, Arkansas, came up with their barbecue sauce years ago using Wicker’s as a base.
‘Whatever did happen to Wicker’s?’ I wonder. ‘They used to be going like a house afire. There was a time that all winning barbecue teams used Wicker’s. Let me put it to you this way: if they didn’t use Wicker’s, they didn’t win.’
‘I used to buy it in 55-gallon drums.’ Woody tells me. ‘Well, the old boy who run it, the manager, me and him had a real close working relationship. He ended up quittin’, and when he did, I thought, ‘Man, this is not good.’ They could have me over a barrel and raise the price of that to where I can’t afford to buy it. Or they could say, ‘Hey, we’re not gonna sell you any more of this.”
‘That could be a problem,’ I agree.
‘I had tried and tried and tried to make it. This here on the bottle says ‘vinegar, salt, and spices.’ That covers a lot of territory.’
‘You bet it does,’ I laugh. ‘Actually, I think I have a recipe for Wicker’s; someone gave it to me a long time ago.’
‘Yeah, that old man who started Wicker’s a long time ago, he was very loose-tongued with his recipe. But the only thing about it, he never told the same thing twice. I can’t tell you how many people over the years that I’ve run into would say, ‘Well, I know what’s in that! Me and that old man used to go to barbecue cook-offs and we used to make that stuff.’
‘So I’d say, ‘What’s in it?’ And he’d say, ‘Well you’ve got this and this and this.’ So I’d try it and then pour it out. Then I’d run into somebody else and get another recipe. And none of ’em was ever the same. I even got a recipe for Wicker’s off the CB radio going down the interstate.
‘I worked on this recipe on and off for 10 years. Finally, I sat down and took all of these recipes that people have give me and I said, ‘Well, I know that’s not in there.’ I kept working back and forth and finally, one day, I come up with it. Now we sell it as our Marinade and Baste.’
Reprinted from: Peace, Love and Barbecue; Copyright © 2005 Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098.