I’m sort of a barbecue sauce fanatic. Though we skipped it this year because last year’s entry line was hours long, we love to attend the annual Fiery Foods Show, paying special attention to barbecue sauces. And that’s a lot of barbecue sauces – enough that the official name of the event is “National Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show.” Given that there are over 1,000 products represented at the show annually, I feel confident in saying we’ve tried at least a hundred different barbecue sauces.
Which means that when I compliment a barbecue sauce, I feel that I know what I’m talking about. And this barbecue sauce is exceptional. How good is it? So good that when I started to put the cooking pot in the sink, Arne snatched it from my hands and spent several minutes patiently scraping it with a rubber spatula and lapping up every single drop.
I must thank Jackie at The Beeroness for the basic recipe. When I saw her recipe for Stout & Sriracha Barbecue Sauce, my first thought was that it would be a great use for the leftover smoked porter Arne had left in the fridge a couple of days before. And it was – the sauce was sticky, smoky, smooth, and suave. Really good.
Then on Tuesday I came home with a couple of racks of baby back ribs, and I had an idea: What about that same recipe made with Santa Fe Brewing Company‘s Imperial Java Stout? This may be Arne’s all-time favorite beer, so it was no surprise that there was a can in the beverage fridge. (The original plan was to have a mini-fridge for all the condiments that clutter up the regular fridge, but it quickly got taken over by soda and beer. Mostly beer.)
It took no time at all to mix up the sauce, which is made up entirely of pantry staples – though I did add a couple of less common optional ingredients. Then all I had to do was let it simmer, which of course involves occasional stirring, which must be accompanied by tasting and let’s-add-a-little-of-this-ing. My favorite part.
I’ve tried this sweet, spicy, sticky sauce on both chicken and pork ribs, and it was wonderful on both. Its sweet fruitiness would be fantastic on beef, too – I see grilled short ribs in my near future. It caramelizes gorgeously on the grill without burning too easily, forming a burnished crisp-stickiness that is utterly addictive. I really didn’t intend to eat that whole rack of baby back ribs.
But I have no regrets.
Ingredient notes: Neither the liquid smoke nor the tamarind concentrate are necessary for a fabulously delicious sauce, but if you have them, do try them. The effect of the liquid smoke (I use hickory Colgin) is obvious, but use with care – it’s very strong. The tamarind concentrate amps up the sweet-sour and fruity flavors, and makes the sauce even more beautifully glossy. Please experiment with the variety of beer; smoked and coffee flavors were both amazing, but any tasty porter or stout should be lovely here.
Oh, and you can omit the Worcestershire if you’d like a vegetarian sauce. Don’t laugh – this would be great on grilled eggplant or zucchini!
More dinners from the grill: Grill-Roasted Eggplant and Potato Curry with Tomatoes, Chicken with Beer BBQ Sauce over Creamy Calabacitas Salad
Sticky, Spicy Beer BBQ Sauce
Makes about 12 ounces Time: 30 to 60 minutes Hands-on: 15 minutes
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 4 tablespoons Sriracha (regular or homemade), or to taste
1 to 4 drops liquid smoke, optional
1 cup stout or porter
1/3 cup brown sugar
A few good grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate, such as Tamicon, optional
A 2-inch square chunk of onion
Place the olive oil and garlic in a medium saucepan and turn the heat to medium. When the garlic starts to sizzle and smell good, add the other ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until sauce is thick.
Taste. Add more Sriracha if you want it hotter, and make other flavor adjustments as needed. (Don’t do this until the sauce is as thick as you want it, because it gets hotter and saltier as it boils down.)
Remove from the heat. Take out the chunk of onion if you want to (I didn’t bother). Use as desired.
Bonus recipe: Perfect Baby Back Ribs
Serves: 4 sensible people or 2 greedy ones (like me) Time: 24 hours Hands-on: 30 minutes
Pork ribs can be very tough if you try to grill them without pre-cooking. Some recipes recommend parboiling, but that can leave your ribs bland and waterlogged. Instead, bake them the night before you want to grill, with a quick rub if you like, or just some salt and pepper.
2 racks baby back ribs
2 tablespoons tequila, optional
1/2 tablespoon coarse salt and pepper or simple grill rub (1/2 tbsp coarse salt, 2 tbsp ground medium red chile such as ancho or New Mexico, 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 tbsp brown sugar, freshly ground black pepper)
Barbecue sauce of your choice
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Drizzle ribs with tequila, if using. Mix together grill rub ingredients if using. Sprinkle grill rub or salt and pepper over top of ribs. Pat grill rub down to adhere, then wrap racks separately in aluminum foil. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in oven for 1 to 2 hours, until tender.
Remove ribs from oven; open aluminum foil to let cool. When mostly cool, rewrap and place in refrigerator until next day.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Place ribs on grill rack, meat side down, for a few minutes, then turn over and brush with barbecue sauce. Continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every 3 to 5 minutes and brushing with sauce, until ribs are hot and sizzling and sauce is slightly blackened in places, glossy, and sticky. Serve hot.
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