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What Makes It "Barbecue" Sauce?

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    Posted: 22 September 2014 at 11:50
Not a fallacious question.

On another site somebody posted a recipe for plum barbecue sauce. Me, I got to wondering, what makes it different than any other plum sauce? And, by extension, what makes any sauce specifically "barbecue" sauce?

Logically, all barbecue sauces would have certain commonalities that join them as a class. I'm thinking vinegar would be one of them. But that, alone, wouldn't differentiate them from all other sauces.

Tomato product? Not hardly. There are many barbecue sauces in which tomato plays little or no part.

So, what do y'all think? What is the defining characteristic(s) of barbecue sauce?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 September 2014 at 13:28
I guess if I had to pick one ingredient that designates a sauce as barbecue Brook....it would be sugar in one form or another. That classic dark glaze that you get when finishing your ribs with ...perhaps a molasses based sauce. Certainly the vinegar comes into play as well, along with a plethora of other ingredients,but if I had to choose just one basic ingredient that does it....it would be sucrose in one of it's many forms.

I'm very interested in hearing other opinions on this one.

Good thread Brook...hope we get some discussion going here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2014 at 07:53
Good question. It's something I hadn't really thought about.

I'm thinking acid & sugar. Those are probably the two important ingredients that should be in any "barbecue sauce".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2014 at 09:19
I asked almost the same question on another website years ago and basically got the internet equivalent of a blank stare.

Personally I'm not sure what exactly makes a sauce a "bbq" sauce as opposed to any other sauce, but I'd love to hear others answer. Sugar is a good one. I'm not so sure about acid, there are plenty of bbq sauces out there that are over-the-top sweet and have no acid to speak of, unless you count the acid from tomatoes as the base.

At the time I asked the question I was more focused on what spices made it a bbq sauce, but now I know that the spices can vary widely from one style to the next and there's no spice or set of spices that make it bbq sauce.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 October 2014 at 18:23
I have an Eastern North Carolina barbecue sauce recipe that was given to me by master pig smoker during my time in North Carolina.  Next time I make a batch I'll post a tutorial.  I prefer the Eastern NC style thin vinegar based sauces to the thick sweet type sauces like Kansas City style and the mustard based South Carolina sauces.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2014 at 04:02
Hey, Andy. Welcome back.

While I don't personally care for the eastern NC vinegar sauce, it's one of the main reasons I suggested vinegar as a commonality.

If you look at barbecue sauces by region, vinegar is just about a universal ingredient---even in the very sweet ones, like Kansas City style.

Some sort of sweetener, as others have suggested, is almost universal as well. But it seems to me, just spitballing, that the further away from a tomato base you go, the less important the sugar content is. Thus, in KC and Memphis style, sugar is very important, whereas you could all but leave it out of Kentucky and eastern NC styles.

Initially, viscosity might seem a commonality too, particularly if you're looking at commercial sauces. But here, again, Kentucky and eastern NC styles belie that.

I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't a circular reasoning sort of thing; to wit, barbecue sauce is any sauce people put on barbecued meat?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2014 at 18:20
Thanks Brooke, glad to be back.

I think your observations are spot on about vinegar and a sweetener.  My recipe from North Carolina has a sweetener though not much (the recipe calls for 1 pound of brown sugar to 1 gallon of cider vinegar).  I had never thought about it but it does make sense that the farther you get from the tomato based sauces the less the sugar content.

I failed to mention that my recipe is one used with pulled pork.  I think the thin Eastern North Carolina sauces enhance the flavor of the meat rather than overwhelm it, sort of like malt vinegar on fries versus ketchup.  I don't care at all for the thick, sweet sauces on pulled pork but I do like a KC style sauce on ribs and chicken.  
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I like a thin sauce on pulled pork myself, Andy. But not quite as vinegary as the eastern NC type. So I go for a Kentucky style, which is based around apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire.

Brown sugar is the traditional ingredient in these types of sauce. More and more, however, I've been using powdered honey instead. Seems to provide a more mellow flavor.

On ribs I use sauce as a cooked-on glaze. But don't use any sauce, as such. Sort of like Memphis style with a shiny finish.

Only time I use a thick sauce is on chicken, when I turn to my coffee barbecue sauce. There, again, though, it's only on wings that I use it as a sauce per se. Otherwise it's used as a glaze.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2014 at 19:26
That's exactly how we do it on ribs, I paint it on at the end of the cooking and let it develop into a glaze.  I don't put straight sauce on them after cooking because to me if you do all you taste is the sauce.

Tell me more about powdered honey.  I've never heard of it.    
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I first heard about it on one of the meat smoking forums, and did a search. Ordered my first batch on line---4 ounces just to experiment. In taste and texture it's like honey in granulated form.

Next thing I know, the local Asian market is carrying it in one-pound bags. I stocked up in case they drop it.

I have no idea how they make the stuff. Ingredients list it as cane syrup and honey.

To use it, I just sub it for brown sugar on a 1:1 basis
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From Amazing Ribs:

The History Of Barbecue Sauce

"Hunger is the best sauce." Cervantes in Don Quixote

By Meathead Goldwyn

The idea of putting sauces on food goes back pretty far. In the days before refrigeration and written history, somebody discovered that smoking meat helped preserve it. Somebody else discovered that soaking it in salty seawater helped preserve it. Somebody else discovered that packing it in dried salt helped preserve it. Somebody else discovered that leaving it in the hot sun or near the fire so it dried out helped preserve it. We now know that smoke and salt have anti-microbial properties, and that dehydrating foods also delays spoilage.

These prehistoric iron chefs discovered that they could also improve flavor and mouthfeel with smoke, salt, seeds, and leaves, as well as basting meat with wine, vinegar, and oils. Especially if the meat was on its way towards funky.

Preserved meats, especially dried meats, were often soaked in liquids to bring them back to life as stews, swimming in sauce based on such as water, oil, juices, dairy, and even blood. In fact the word sauce is said to come from an ancient word for salt.

According to Harold McGee's superb book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, in 239 BCE Chinese Chef I Yin, in "Master Lü's Spring and Autumn Annals" discusses the harmonious blending of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty, and the importance of balancing them harmoniously in sauces. "The transformation which occurs in the cauldron is quintessential and wondrous, subtle and delicate. The mouth cannot express in words; the mind cannot fix upon an analogy. It is like the subtlety of archery and horsemanship, the transformation of Yin and Yang, or the revolution of the four seasons." The Yin and Yang of mixing sweet and sour is, of course, a Chinese specialty, and at the heart of most barbecue sauces.

McGee also quotes a Latin poem from 25 CE. It describes a farmer pounding herbs, cheese, oil, and vinegar, and adding it to a flatbread. The paste sounds quite a bit like pesto genovese, and the flatbread sounds like a pesto pizza or calzone.

Apicius, the famous Roman cookbook written in the 4th or 5th century, had about 500 recipes, more than 100 of them for sauces. Fermented fish sauce, called garum, was big in those days. Look at the ingredients list of Worcestershire sauce and you will find anchovies right near the top. Anchovies are a great source of the savory flavor component known as umami. Look carefully at the ingredients lists of modern barbecue sauces and you will often find Worcestershire. In fact Worcestershire is the backbone of the most obscure of our regional barbecue sauces, Kentucky Black Barbecue Sauce. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was introduced in England in 1837, and appeared in the US around 1849.

French, Italians, Spanish, and Portugese chefs became masters of sauces and gravies, and in a French kitchen the title of saucier is hard earned. In the Middle Ages, Europeans often used sweet grape juice in sauces, then wine, which is grape juice that has been fermented by yeast, and then vinegar, which is wine that has undergone a further fermentation by bacteria. Today, vinegar is in practically every barbecue sauce on the market.

One myth needs busting here. Contrary to what you may have read, sauces were not invented to cover the smell and taste of spoiled meat. Spoiled meat tends to make people sick or dead, so, although covering it with a sauce might make it more palatable, people who used this strategy probably tried it only once.

Sauces no doubt had roots in marinades and bastes. Marinades were employed to soak foods and moisturize it, or rehydrate dried foods, and as well as to flavor them. Bastes were employed to cool meat when cooking and replace moisture that evaporated or dripped off.

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and as the Spanish explored the New World, they discovered the natives had a wooden device for smoking fish, lizards, and small animals which to them sounded like "barbacoa". Smoked meats were common in Europe long before Columbus, both for the flavor and because smoke helped preserve food, but the barbacoa technique was different and it quickly became popular with explorers.

In 1539 Hernando de Soto landed near Tampa, FL bringing with him nine ships and more than 600 men, far more than the 102 aboard the Mayflower that landed in 1620. But de Soto wasn't interested in settling down. He was looking for gold and silver. He also brought hogs and vinegar with him. He made friends and feasted with some of the natives, and slaughtered others. The natives liked pork so much they often stole hogs from the palefaces.

Wine, malt, cider vinegar, salt, herbs, and smoke were common in Spain and probably traveled with Columbus and de Soto. They were used to flavor and preserve. Meat was often salted, dried, and then soaked before being cooked in stews. Sugar cane and molasses were plentiful in the Caribbean, chile peppers were native to Central America, and tomatoes probably originated in South America. Where there are tomatoes, there will eventually be tomato sauce, so it is highly likely that the first tomato sauce was made well before Spanish explorers first tasted it.

It is possible that sometime during de Soto's alternating wars and parties with the natives, a confluence of smoke, pork, vinegar, chiles, and molasses all came together. There is some evidence that vinegar and peppers may have been at a feast with de Soto and the natives near Tupelo, Mississippi, and some evidence it happened a bit later in Virginia.

The Spanish colonized heavily in Florida and Mexico, the Dutch piled into New Amsterdam (now New York), the French set up shop in Canada and New Orleans, and Germans found the port of Charleston, SC hospitable. Each brought their culinary traditions with them and the sauces that they applied to the grilled and smoked barbecue meats of the New World reflected their preferences.


bottle jack for roasting

The first barbecue sauces were mostly butter. In "Nouveaux Voyages aux Isles d'Amerique" by Frenchman Jean B. Labot in 1693, there is a description of a barbecued whole hog that is stuffed with aromatic herbs and spices, roasted belly up, and basted with a sauce of melted butter, cayenne pepper, and sage, a popular technique from back home that probably came to the new world via the French West Indies by slaves and Creoles. The French are incapable of making anything without butter. The French also were big on meat juices in their sauces, an ingredient still found in some homebrewed Texas barbecue sauces and more recently in Adam Perry Lang's Board Sauces.

The German fondness of pork with mustard resulted in the wonderful yellow barbecue sauces still popular in a band of South Carolina from Charleston to Columbia.

In 1867, just after the end of the Civil War, after all the slave cooks were freed, the Georgia widow Mrs. A.P. Hill published Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book dedicated "to young and inexperienced Southern housekeepers... in this peculiar crisis of our domestic as well as national affairs". It contains the first reference I have found for a sauce for barbecue. It is mostly butter and vinegar: "Sauce for Barbecues. - Melt half a pound of butter; stir into it a large tablespoon of mustard, half a teaspoon of red pepper, one of black, salt to taste; add vinegar until the sauce has a strong acid taste. The quantity of vinegar will depend upon the strength of it. As soon as the meat becomes hot, begin to baste, and continue basting frequently until it is done; pour over the meat any sauce that remains." Interestingly, Mrs. Hill shares many "catsup" recipes, among them two for tomato catsup that are pretty close to what we know today. Originally ketchup was probably made from fermented fish.

The first mention of "barbecue sauce" I have found was in the Bolivar Bulletin from Hardeman County, TN in 1871. The author of an article thanks a Dr. J.H. Larwill for "a fine lot of Barbecue Sauce, of his own invention. For fresh meats of all kinds it cannot be excelled."

According to an article in Eatocracy, several newspaper articles from the 1880s described barbecue sauces like Mrs. Hills: Mostly butter and vinegar seasoned with salt and black pepper, not unlike the sauces still popular on the coast of the Carolinas today.

The oldest recipes

The first recipe I have found labeled "Barbecue Sauce" was in a handwritten cookbook by Edith Lockwood Danielson Howard of Providence, RI. I found it in the library of the Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts in Providence. The archivists there believe it was written about 1900, but the tomato sauce recipe mentions Crisco, which was introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1911 and, although it became very popular very quickly, this means the actual date is probably after 1912. As with other early sauces, it has a lot of oil. Interestingly, Mrs. Howard, a woman of means, did not cook. She had help to perform domestic labor.


howard's recipe for barbecue sauce


Mrs. Howard's Barbecue Sauce,
ca. 1913
1/4 pound butter
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon tabasco sauce
Dash of cayenne
Chopped parsley
2 tablespoons tomato catsup
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 tablespoon tomato sauce

Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup oil, crisco, or butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
Cook gently then add
1/2 cup green peppers
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup carrots
2 1/2 cups tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf

Simmer 1 hour, stirring often or until as thick as cream. Use plain or strain.

You'll notice that the recipe called for Tabasco sauce by name. The Louisiana hot sauce that is still used in many barbecue sauce recipes today has been around since 1868.

Around the same time, in 1913, the witty Martha McCullogh-Williams wrote Dishes And Beverages Of The Old South. Born in 1848 on her family's plantation in northwest Tennessee, she included many receipts, as recipes were called then, that she learned from her black "Mammy". She reminisces how her father made a mop and sauce for barbecue: "Daddy made it thus: Two pounds sweet lard, melted in a brass kettle, with one pound beaten, not ground, black pepper, a pint of small fiery red peppers, nubbed and stewed soft in water to barely cover, a spoonful of herbs in powder - he would never tell what they were - and a quart and a pint of the strongest apple vinegar, with a little salt. These were simmered together for half an hour, as the barbecue was getting done. Then a fresh, clean mop was dabbed slightly in the mixture, and was lightly smeared over the upper sides of the carcasses. Not a drop was permitted to fall on the coals - it would have sent up smoke, and films of light ashes. Then, tables being set, the meat was laid, hissing hot, within clean, tight wooden trays, deeply gashed upon the side that had been next to the fire, and deluged with the sauce, which the mop-man smeared fully over it. Hot! After eating it one wanted to lie down at the spring-side and let the water of it flow down the mouth. But of a flavor, a savor, a tastiness, nothing else on earth approaches."

In the December 6, 1926 Los Angeles Times, a food column called "Chef Wyman's Suggestions for Tomorrow's Meal" ran a recipe for lamb and accompanying it was a "Barbecue Sauce". It said "Melt two level tablespoonfuls of unsalted butter in a small saucepan, add one teaspoonful of mustard, three tablespoonfuls of Worcestershire sauce, one teaspoonful of tarragon vinegar, three tablespoonfuls of tomato catsup, and a few drops of tobasco sauce." Sounds good!

In the 1930s in the heart of the Great Depression, the Federal Writer's Project deployed unemployed writers to collect info for a book called America Eats. WWII broke out in 1941 before it could be published. It contained several barbecue sauce recipes, among this one from Pinky Langley, a whitre man from Jackson, MS. His instructions were to mix the ingredients, cook for 30 minutes, and baste the meat every turn and turn frequently.

Juice of 6 lemons
3 lemons sliced
1 pint vinegar
3 heaping tablespoons sugar
1 heaping tablespoon prepared mustard
3/4 pound oleo
1 small bottle tomato catsup
1 small bottle Lea & Perrins Sauce
3 chopped onions
Enough water to make 3/4 gallons
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper to taste

The first book about barbecue, "Sunset's Barbecue Book", published in 1938 by California's Sunset Magazine, had three barbecue sauce recipes, recommended for marinating, basting, and serving. One, called "Herb Barbecue Sauce For Lamb" was given to a Sunset magazine by the great grandson of one of the first Spanish governors of California. It is a savory sauce with onion, garlic, rosemary leaves, mint leaves, vinegar, and water. "Barbecue Sauce For Steaks Or Hamburgers" had equal amounts of ketchup and olive oil, with butter, mustard, Worcestershire, grated onion and garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Their "Circle J Barbecue Sauce" was more complicated and more like a Texas sauce with 2/3 cup butter, 1/2 cup ketchup, 3 cups water, and small amounts of onion, garlic, mustard, horseradish, herbs, A1 or Worcestershire, tabasco, chili powder, salt, black peppr, and only 2 teaspoons of sugar.

James Beard's landmark 1954 Complete Book of Barbece & Rotisserie Cooking offers several barbecue sauce recipes. His "Basic Barbecue Sauce" has 1 cup oil, 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup red wine vinegar, plus onions, garlic, green peppers, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, and parsley.

The art of "doctoring" commercial sauces has been around a long time too. Here's a recipe from Mr. & Mrs. Alinda Hobbs near Greenwood, MS, in the Delta area, recorded by Eudora Welty in the late 1930s. I have only slightly rounded off some archaic measurements.

2 pounds butter
2 cups Wesson Oil
2 cups commercial barbecue sauce
1 cup vinegar
1 cup lemon juice
4 cups tomato catsup
1 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste

Commercial barbecue sauces

The first commercial barbecue sauce may have been made by the Georgia Barbecue Sauce Company in Atlanta, GA. At the top of the page is an ad for it in the Atlanta Constitution in 1909. It says "Georgia Barbecue Sauce is the finest dressing known to culinary science for Beef, Pork, Mutton, Fish, Oysters, and Game of every kind; roasted, fried or broiled. It is also unequaled for perfecting Brunswick Stew and as dressing for Vegetables." Alas, it is no longer made and I have been unable to unearth the recipe.

scott's bbq sauceThe oldest commercial barbecue sauce still made began in 1917 when Adam Scott opened a barbecue restaurant in Goldsboro, NC. Scott, a preacher, said the ingredients for his barbecue sauce came to him in a dream although the ingredients are nothing strange for the region. It was mostly vinegar. It was served in his restaurant until his son, A. Martel Scott, Sr., spiced up the mixture a bit in 1946. Scott's Family Barbecue Sauce is still available today and is an East Carolina classic.

Numerous other barbecue joints have been around a long time and their sauces eventually found their way into bottles, onto grocery shelves, and now for sale on the web. Among them is another classic, Abe's Bar-B-Q Sauce, first made in 1924 in Clarksdale, MS, in the Delta region, famous for both barbecue and blues.

maull bbq sauceA lot of websites say that the first bottled barbecue sauce was made by H.J. Heinz in Pittsburgh in 1948, but Louis Maull of St. Louis beat them to the punch by 22 years. Heinz may have been the first in broad national distribution, but not the first in a bottle.

In 1897 Maull began selling groceries from a horse-drawn wagon. He incorporated in 1905, grew steadily as a wholesaler of fish and cheese, began manufacturing a line of condiments in 1920, and introduced his barbecue sauce in 1926. It became so popular that's about all they make nowadays.

In 1931, Mangham Edward Griffin made BBQ sauce for his family's Fourth of July Picnic in Macon, GA. It built a reputation over the next four years. According to the company's website, his brother, who owned a grocery store, suggested he bottle some. In 1935 the brother bought 12 bottles and sold them before Mr. Griffin could even get home.

In 1935 Griffin started his business of making sauce in his kitchen. He called it Mrs. Griffin's Barbecue Sauce in honor of his wife and "because a woman's name seemed to sell better than a man's." The company still makes three flavors in Macon, Original, Hickory Smoked, and Hot. It is mustard based, similar to the sauces in South Carolina.

Other commercial sauces were made and have now disappeared. On December 30, 1929, the Hamilton [OH] Daily News had an ad for Dinner Bell Barbecue Sauce at 15 cents per jar.

In 1930, ads for Ralphs grocery in the Los Angeles Times promoted Del Ray Barbecue Sauce for 12¢.

In 1942 there were ads for [1942] Derby Barbecue Sauce in the Mason City [IA] Globe-Gazette, in 1943 the Port Arthur [TX] News had an ad for Evangeinline Barbeque Sauce, and in 1947 no less than the New York Times had an ad for House of Herbs Barbecue Sauce.

Modern barbecue sauce

By far the most popular type of modern barbecue sauce is the Kansas City style, dominated by ketchup. Early ketchups were fish based sauces, more like Asian fish sauce or Worcestershire. Some were even mushroom based. Heinz introduced the first tomato based ketchup in 1875, and one can make the argument that most barbecue sauces are just a type of ketchup. Ketchup is tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and spices. The standard grocery store Kansas City style barbecue sauce is ketchup, vinegar, sweeteners, herbs, spices, and liquid smoke. In other words, they are really just amped up ketchup. The ratios of these ingredients among the brands varies, and a few minor herbs and spices give them individuality. Click here to read more about ketchup and how to make your own.

Many modern barbecue sauces have high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in them, an ingredient that is controversial. Click here to read more about corn syrups and my take on the controversy.

Many commercial sauces also contain liquid smoke, which is smoke from burning hardwood that has been captured and dissolved in alcohol. When added to sauces it contributes another layer of flavor, simulating, but not duplicating, the flavor of hardwood smoke from the cooker. Purists hate it, but if you have no way to cook outdoors, it can really help
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2014 at 07:54
Great write-up, Murray. And sort of supports my contention that barbecue sauce is any sauce used on barbecue.

It's also demonstrates one of the flaws in food history: the researcher often wears blinders. Happens to us all. In this case, the search parameters were, apparently, "barbecue sauce." Thus the 1900 date for the first recipe labeled "barbecue sauce." Yet we know there were earlier sauces. The author refers to some of them.

One example from a much earlier time: In her 1745 The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse has a recipe "To Barbecue A Leg of Pork." It includes a wine-based sauce. We included an adapted version in our own A Colonial Virginia Book of Cookery.

There are many other possible examples.

So, if we use the 1500s as the start of "barbecue," (that is, the use of that word to refer to low & slow smoked food) we have numerous examples of barbecue sauce, but the recipes aren't published that way.

Ironically, the further back we go, the less likely we are to find commonalities identifying barbecue sauce as such.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2014 at 09:01
I have a comment about the earlier discussion in regards to sweet BBQ sauces.
I consider the use and application of sugar as a powerful tool.
Although sugar is often used to balance acidity and add sweetness, I use sugar primarily to adjust and correct textural deficiencies.
Sugar is used extensively to strengthen fibers.
This effect is very readily seen in the processing of fruit for canning. The added sugar in the form of syrup firms the fibers and prevents mushiness.
This seems to be even more telling when sugar is applied to meat.

I often find great amusement in recipes which call for an overnight marinade of chicken in Teriyaki sauce.
By the time the meat is grilled it more closely resembles leather.
I worked for 7 years as one of 2 white faces in a Chinese kitchen and got a new appreciation for sugar when used as a crunch inducing candied glaze as we see in a true Ginger Beef.
Truly a BBQ sauce if ever there was one- Vinegar, sugar, soya sauce, garlic, ginger and dried pepper flakes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 October 2014 at 12:35


Exemplary report on Sauces and the history of each. Enjoyed immensely.

Merit the excellence,

Thank you.

Have a nice weekend.
Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 September 2018 at 11:13
I just came across this topic today (which I somehow missed before); I haven't read it all yet, but I am enjoying what I have read so far - thanks to all who participated and contributed!

My own feeling on it is that whatever you call it, "barbecue sauce" is a globe-wide phenomenon that can possibly be traced back nearly to man's first efforts at cooking over fire. All of this, in my opinion, is tied the basic practice of basting meat as it cooks over fire. The earliest efforts at this were surely simply adding salt to enhance flavor (or preserve the meat in the first place). Herbs and spices then crept in, and I'm guessing that somewhere along the line, people learned that brushing the meat with its own rendered drippings and fats helped to keep the meat cooking evenly and from drying out. Eventually, we saw the beginnings of the drive to balance the flavours...perhaps attempts at refinement in order to produce a "better" product or treasured memory for special occasions? .

Which brings us - in my mind - to the nexus. The most basic barbecue sauce is a play on the time-honoured flavor enhancement affectionately known as "Sweet-and-Sour." Meat (and the cooking of meat) benefits so greatly from this combination and the way it brings tastes into balance; and the concept seems to be universal (or nearly so) across the globe. Combine local/regional sources for the sweet (cane or beet sugar, honey, berries etc.) and sour (vinegar, citrus juice etc.), add some treasured spices that are quintessential to the area and you have yourself a barbecue sauce. It might not be called that, but it performs the same function.
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Tom Kurth View Drop Down
Chef's Apprentice
Chef's Apprentice


Joined: 10 May 2015
Location: Alma, MO
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Kurth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2018 at 16:06
I haven't yet read everything here, but being the opinionated SOB that I am, I'll offer my two cents worth anyway. I'm firmly in the camp of defining BBQ sauce as any sauce used on or with barbecued meat. That, however, begs the question, "What is barbecue?" I'll offer this definition: Meat cooked over a low fire for an extended period of time, flavored by smoke, salt, sweeteners and spices. The meats preferred are those that benefit by this low, slow method: Historically, po' folks food--lots of fat and connective tissue that better folks would turn up their noses to--the same meats that often end up in the braising pot. Ribs and brisket are prime examples. Poultry is a poor candidate--it's just too delicate--though it will, no doubt, benefit by association with smoke and spice. Sausage? Well, it's definitely po' folks food and spice is always there and it's often smoked, but I just don't see how sausage gains by slow cooking. Slow smoking, yes, but not slow cooking. There's no tissue to be broken down for exceptional flavor. 

Just a thought.
Best,
Tom

Escape to Missouri
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