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"The Magnolias" House Barbecue Sauce

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 20 June 2013 at 10:36
As many of you know, I recently purchased The Food of a Younger Land, by Mark Kurlansky:
  
 
 
Please click on the link and take a look at this book - doing so helps this forum to help pay for itself! Thumbs Up
 
Amazon's book description is very apt:
 
Quote In the throes of the Great Depression, a make-work initiative for authors-called "America Eats"-was created by the WPA to chronicle the eating habits, traditions, and struggles of local Americans. Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt and Cod, unearths this forgotten literary treasure, chronicling a bygone era when Americans had never heard of fast food or grocery superstores. Kurlansky brings together the WPA contributions-featuring New York automats and Georgia Coca-Cola parties, Maine lobsters and Montana beaver tails-and brilliantly showcases them with authentic recipes, anecdotes, and photographs.
 
I just finished reading this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it; I'll be sharing a few things here and there with the forum in the future; having said that, I truly encourage anyone who is interested in food, history and Americana to follow the link above and purchase this book. It's a true gem.
 
One of the many talented writers employed by the project was Eudora Welty, who went on to become quite well-known. As a member of the project in about 1939, she recorded the recipe used by James Acker at his home, The Magnolias, which is located in Aberdeen, Mississippi.
 
 
The Magnolias was famous for the barbecue parties held there, and this "house recipe" for their barbecue sauce really drew me in.
 
Normally, I am not much of a sauce person when it comes to barbecue; I prefer to utilise a progressive layering of flavours, beginning with a mustard or some other slather, followed by a dry rub, then by mopping or basting during cooking, and finishing with a thin glaze that dries to a crackling shine.
 
Be that as it may, I was intrigued by this sauce, not only because of its ingredients, but also because this was a direct link to genuine, Old-South barbecue history, and I knew I had to try it. I used it on a chicken that i was cooking on my rotisserie, and the results were incredible. The flavours using these simple ingredients were quintessentially barbecue, but were also at the same time something unique that was entirely new to me. Savory, tangy, well-balanced and delicious - I encourage anyone, skeptic or not, to give it a try; you will not be disappointed.
 
The recipe, as transcribed by Welty, consists of heating together:
 
4 ounces vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
14 ounces catsup
3 ounces
Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins, of course!)
The juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons salt
Red and black
pepper to taste (in deference to Mrs. Tas, I simply used about a tablespoon of good Hungarian paprika and a teaspoon of black pepper)
4 ounces butter
 
That's it. Don't mess with it, don't "improve" it, and don't vary from it.... Simply heat the ingredients together, and you will end up with a beautiful, brick-red sauce that will be on the thin side. Reduce it to a thicker table sauce if you want, or simply mop/baste the meat constantly while cooking, letting the thin layers build over time, and you will be one happy camper.
 
As I said, I used this on chicken, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that this will also indeed be outstanding for pork, beef, and probably for robust fish as well. The flavour combination is one of those magical things that is much more than the sum of its parts - all ingredients contribute to the whole in wonderful harmony, from the rich undertones provided by the butter to the refreshing accents coming from the lemon. Very good stuff.
 
I can almost bet that all of the ingredients for this truly Southern barbecue sauce are already in your kitchen or pantry; give this a try and see for yourself - chances are you will enjoy it as much as I did.








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Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 June 2013 at 14:45
Tas. Profile sounds wonderful for chicken ... or other Bbq ... & Simple ingredients. 

I have made numerous bbq sauces when we lived in Argentina, Uruguay and South Miami Beach; all have ketchup / catsup ...
 
I can buy Hungarian Paprika at the El Corte Ingles, Hungarian Gourmet Section ...
 
I think it shall be wonderful for 4th July ...
 
Thanks for posting.

All my best regards.

Margaux.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2013 at 10:31
Hi, Margi -
 
Glad you like the look of it - it really is simple and provides, in my opinion, a flavour that is out-of-this-world.
 
Give it a try, and let me know what you think. For the "red pepper" component, Hungarian paprika would be my recommendation when you make it the first time, but pimentón de La Vera would be a very interesting variation for future preparations, I think.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 June 2013 at 23:02
That! is essentially my grandmother's braised steak!!!! My Gran was born in 1890 and I have her recipe book...
Basically - coat blade steak with that mix, along with thick cut carrot, celery and onion, pressure cook for 35-40 min.
She says "serve with peas and creamed potatoes"
I remember it from my childhood, it was one of the #1 orders for her to cook for us if we when we went to stay with her.
She did not sear or brown her meat ever, and alot of her meat recipes are boiled. Since I began researching and experimenting with 12th century food this no longer seems weird to me.
Her Grandparents were English settlers here in New Zealand, so her recipes and methods are essentially 19th century English. A great primary source for any one interested in colonial food and cookery. I am lucky that I knew her and got to spend time in the kitchen with her. So I should really go through her book and annotate it - because her kitchen had no fridge, and I know how she did things - she just lists ingredients assuming that the reader will know what to do with them.

I also remember her boiled sausages with parsley white sauce - never go there Dead
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote africanmeat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 June 2013 at 04:55
Thanks i like it i will try it next time i do ribs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 July 2013 at 11:41
It's a good one, Ahron - very much worth trying!
 
Effigy - we'd love to learn more about your grandmother's recipes and methods - please feel to post and/or share them any time! One thing I've learned since I started this site is that preserving the traditions of a country or region and its families is more important than we realise, because when we lose them, they are gone forever - and that's something we often don't grasp the full signifigance of until it is too late.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 July 2013 at 15:11
I agree.
I am so happy I found this forum. Not losing old knowledge is a topic very dear to me as I look at people who can't do a thing for themselves - yet when they meet 12th century me at a demo they are fascinated by the most simple things - building a fire, candle making, hemming a shirt even making porridge!
I just have to digress a moment because some of the anecdotes from our camps/demos are just hilarious. e.g.
Cooking a spit roasted suckling pig - "Is that a real pig?" - "What will you do with it?"
The very earnest and concerned little girl "Don't you have a real house?"
and the best one ever, a friend at an event with her 6 month old son "Is that a real baby?"

I will make a project for myself to do something with Olive's recipes over the coming months. Should I put it in the NZ section?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 July 2013 at 15:18
That sounds like a great place to post them ~ your grandmother helped to build New Zealand, and it's only fitting that she be honoured there!
 
Can't wait to see them - feel free to post photos, familiy memories etc. also, if you want! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2013 at 08:50
   Hi Tas,

  i have to say that's a real nice sounding book...but.  BUT, it is even a more wonderful sounding book for you...this really seems to be right up your alley!  I hope you've been enjoying it and that it's everything you were hoping for!!!

g'day
 Dan
Enjoy The Food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 July 2013 at 08:58
Hi, Dan -
 
I must say, it certainly is a really nice book for anyone interested in the intersection of history and food; there are things in there that would certainly have been irrecovably lost otherwise, and there is a definite connection between the things I've read in this book and aspects of American regional cooking that are plainly visible even today. It was certainly a good use of taxpayer money, and coming from me, that means a lot ~ Embarrassed
 
I really recommend it to anyone who might be interested in discovering a whole new culinary facet of "Americana...."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Effigy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2013 at 02:15
I was watching an American cookery show last night and heard a quote I would like to share with you.
"If its something your grandmother would recognise as food, it's food"
I'm not too clear on what show it was, but I think its was Bobby Flay's Brunch.
The implication was that if your Grandmother wouldn't recognise it as food - it isn't food.
I am loving the concept, but I come from a family of long living slow breeders.
I still shudder at the thought of boiled mutton sausages swimming in thin white sauce. My Gran deffinately knew food, she also had 1930's siege mentality.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 July 2013 at 07:55
That's a great line, Anne. But, if true, about 80% of the fine dining establishments in America would have to close.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 August 2013 at 05:38
I wonder if that is such a bad thing?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 August 2013 at 06:48
Deponent refuses to answer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 May 2014 at 12:00
I made this sauce again today, and as usual, it was very good. Even though I used the same ingredients and measurements as outlined above, I tried a couple of things differently where execution was concerned. 

Primarily, I wanted to see if it would make a difference to build the sauce in layers: I melted the butter over low heat first, letting it cook just a bit; then when the foam subsided a bit, I removed the saucepan from the heat and added the paprika, the pepper and half the salt (I used kosher salt). I then stirred in the Wocestershire sauce and the catsup; once it was worked in well (the aroma was incredible!), I put the saucepan back over low heat and stirred it for a few minutes as it heated just to the point of steaming. I then added the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, working it in over a few minutes to result in a nice-looking sauce that was on the thin side, same as last time.

At this point I tasted it and found it to be very good, but I wanted to compare the results after adding the remaining half of the salt called for in the recipe. The addition of the rest of the salt did seem to improve the flavour even more, bringing a few additional notes out of an already-pleasant symphony.

I reduced the heat to the lowest setting and allowed the sauce to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I then shut off the heat and allowed the sauce to cool. Finally, I put it into an empty, washed catsup bottle for storage, and will enjoy as often as I can on different things.

One can, if one wishes, tweak this sauce a little here or there, personalising it with the cautious addition of a few things; in a way, I did this very same thing, using Hungarian paprika and apple cider vinegar in place of the non-specific "red pepper" and "vinegar." To me, the way I prepared it is "just right," and evokes images of a sunny day in a verdant park or back yard back in the 30s, with a lot of folks gathered round to enjoy some good, old-time barbecue.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 June 2014 at 20:14
Update and additional feedback:

I received some comments on another forum that, on sight, the recipe seems far too acidic; however, since making this again, I got to thinking that - given the thin nature of this sauce and that the book says to apply it during the cooking time - it's meant to be used more like a mop or baste than as a dipping of finishing sauce. Since mops are used very sparingly in thin layers, the amount of final acidity would be quite low.

Another thing that I noticed was that when this sauce was hot and "cooked on," it didn't seem acidic at all; however, when it was cold, it really has a lively pucker factor. I've noticed the same thing with my pulled pork finishing sauce; on it's own, it is somewhere between death and destruction - but mixed in with pork, it is a true slice of heavenly goodness - perfectly suited for barbecue.

These are simply things to be aware of if one wants to give it a try, but I urge anyone to try it first as-written. It's got a tangy, umami-like quality that really gets the mouth watering, wanting more.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 June 2014 at 20:59
Well, I did it.  I like it!  It's a really, really good sauce. Honestly, given the ingredients, I wasn't expecting much. 

I'm impressed. Those few simple ingredients are definately a sum greater than the parts.


Thanks Ron!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 June 2014 at 20:50
Glad you liked it! It's pretty much become my go-to base for any barbecue-type sauce ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tatoosh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 June 2014 at 10:41

I love the idea of this book and the recipes it contains.  From a "book" viewpoint, my one and only reservation is the price of the Kindle version.  The paperback is a fairly reasonable $6.40 plus shipping.  The Kindle version is $10.99 and ... *cough* *cough*... free shipping.  And that burns my backsides.  No paper, no printing, other than setting it up for ebooks - much like a typesetter would set it up for printing, it is so much cheaper to produce and deliver - but they charge more.  Bleh!  

End of rant ...

The sauce looks very interesting and I love things historical.  While my family's palate tends toward sweet and spicy sauce of the KC variety, this looks like it would be fun to play with.   You talked about using less vinegar in one of the later posts.  Without the vinegar, where does it fall on the flavor spectrum?  Is the catsup adding some sweetness at that point?  

When we build a BBQ sauce at home, we use a bit of vinegar but usually more mustard to add a bit of depth along with some sugar (maple) to balance the heat and sweet.   Different ballpark but I want to try this and see how it goes over here in among my Filipino relatives.


Mabuhay BBQ & Pizza
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 June 2014 at 22:33
Hi, Steve - and thanks for your interest in this sauce - it really is some great stuff!

To answer your questions, here are my impressions:

A friend who tried the recipe found it to be overly-acidic; however, he improvised around and deviated from the recipe a bit. Whether this affected anything, I do not know. I noticed that it is quite "puckery" when cold, but when it is heated, the balance is really good. Because tastes vary, I'd suggest rying it without the added vinegar (but definitely with the lemon juice), then add vinegar to your taste, up to the amount specified in the recipe. I like it with the full amount, but as we know, tastes vary.

Without the vinegar, this sauce is very flavourful, without being overly-sweet or hot, but it is in my opinion out of balance. You can adjust the "red pepper" to your preference, of course, but I found the Hungarian paprika to really be the way to go for a savory touch that worked nicely with the other ingredients. The catsup does indeed add sweetness - the right amount, in my opinion. If more sweetness or spice is needed, it seems that it can be added, but my favourite way to make it is as described in my previous posts. It's really hard to explain, but as I was making it, I had a lot of trouble stopping myself from "sampling" it - I just kept wanting it on my tongue!

Give it a go, then tweak it from there, if you'd like. Just keep in mind it is intended as Old South, so some departure might be needed to suit the tastes of your relatives, if they are used to something else.

Hope this helps!

Ron
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