Looking for the perfect finishing sauce for chicken, pulled pork or beef? We’ll teach you how to make barbecue sauce that suits your style.
In our previous DIY barbecue installments, we showed you how to marinate steak and to make a dry rub for ribs and other meats. Today, you’ll learn how to add the crowning touch of flavor with a finishing sauce for chicken, pulled pork…even a steak!
Oh, if it were only that simple. Actually, it is…but first you have to know what kind of sauce you want. And there are diverse styles that differ from region to region:
While sauces vary regionally, most commercial brands model theirs after a generic fallback style. Making your own will give you much better flavor than store brands, and this basic recipe can serve as a springboard for other styles with just a couple of additions. It makes an excellent finishing sauce for chicken, pulled pork or ribs.
2 cups ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Basic Dry Rub
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce darkens and thickens, about 15 minutes.
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 cup chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Basic Barbecue Sauce
Melt drippings in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 1 minute. Add above sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes.
Make Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce as above, with the following changes:
Make your choice of Kansas City or Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce as above, replacing dry rub with chili powder (use a blend containing cumin) and replacing hot sauce with 2–4 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely minced.
Just remember, a barbecue sauce is not meant to soak the meat like a marinade, or be applied while cooking like a “mop” would be. The sugars in a barbecue sauce will burn if applied too soon in the cooking process—especially on a grill—so it should only be used as a finishing sauce for pulled pork and other meats. If anything, only brush it on for the last few minutes of barbecuing.
Of course, you’re not always in the mood for barbecue…and most people wouldn’t dream of putting barbecue sauce (or any sauce) on a steak anyway. But there have been many sauces created just for beef over the years, with certain ingredients designed to enhance and complement the fine flavor of a premium cut.
A classic béarnaise sauce has long been a popular accompaniment for steak, and there is nothing like a mushroom-wine sauce for filets mignons. Along the same lines, a mushroom-Madeira sauce is a huge step up from plain brown gravy for a fine beef roast.
These finishing sauces are never applied during cooking, even for a few minutes. As the name implies, they are used only as a “finishing” touch, to be passed around the table like gravy, or artfully applied when plating the final dish.
And if you simply don’t have the time to prepare your own sauce but want to offer something that’s much more special than the plastic squeeze bottle from the supermarket, there are excellent gourmet finishing sauces that complement a wide variety of grilled fare, or make an excellent finishing sauce for chicken, pulled pork, and other barbecue.
© 2018 Tender Filet