Sauces and Relishes for Dipping and Dashing

Man cannot live by barbecue sauce alone. Or maybe he could, but variety does a body good, and in this chapter you find some of the also-rans — sauces that don’t quite qualify for the label barbecue sauce, at least not traditionally speaking.

Maybe they’re a little off the beaten path or maybe they don’t even come near the path, but each, in its own special way, does something great for the meat that you barbecue or grill.

This chapter gives you good ideas for topping fish and even hamburgers, for serving alongside chicken, pork, steak, and pretty much anything else you may smoke or grill.

In the pages ahead, you find a recipe for a helluva hot sauce as well as one for a rich dipping sauce. There’s a full section full of sweet sauces and a fantastic formula for bourbon-onion chutney.

Fanning the Flames with a Hotter-Than-Hot Sauce

Chiles have been cultivated and have been an important part of cooking for thousands of years. Given their legendary status — hot peppers have been attributed with a number of health benefits including increasing the metabolism, fighting back cancer, and even eradiating vertigo — chiles show no signs of letting up their hold on the imagination and palate.

The havoc chiles wreak on your tongue is nothing compared to what they’ll do to other tender tissues. Your best bet is to wear rubber gloves when you handle particularly hot peppers. Barring that, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after you’re done touching the peppers. Rubbing your eyes with a hand still doused in capsaicin — the compound that provides chiles’ heat — is an agony that doesn’t soon dissipate.

Porkrastinators Pepper Medley Hot Sauce

Take a look at the first three ingredients, and you can see why Team Porkrastinators issues a warning with this recipe: Use it sparingly, they say, because it packs a mother of a wallop.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: About 11⁄2 cups

  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 habanero peppers
  • 3 cayenne peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1⁄2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin

1 In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil.

2 Reduce heat to low.

3 Let mixture simmer until peppers have softened, about 30 minutes.

4 Pour mixture into blender and puree until smooth.

Tip : Because this recipe produces such a scorcher of a hot sauce, you may want to tone it down. Just cut out the habanero peppers (the hottest chilies the recipe includes) or, if you want to keep that particular flavor, use only one, and reduce the number of cayenne and jalapeños that you use by one.

The hottest hot pepper ?

Scoville units measure the amount of capsaicin in a pepper. A standard orange habanero pepper has a reputation as a real killer and measures somewhere around 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. (The wide variation is a product of the differences in growing conditions.)

The red savina pepper is a cultivar of the habanero and one that took over its top spot on the Scoville scale. It has a rating of 350,000 to 580,000 units.

But in 2005, the red savina lost its throne by a long shot when the Bhut Jolokia was shown to measure 1 million Scoville units. Grown under controlled conditions and tested at New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, the pepper unseated the red savina in the Guiness World Records in 2007.

Your impulse when something too hot hits your tongue may be to slug back water, but doing so only moves the pain-inducing chemicals around in your mouth, causing further discomfort. Milk or yogurt coats your mouth and braces it for the abuse you’re giving it. Taking a bite of something bland like rice or bread also can cut back the afterburn.

Part of the reason hot peppers are so hard to stop eating is because of the pain they inflict. The injury capsaicin causes your tongue also leads to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers; basically, the pain leads to a feel-good effect. Less scientifically, most people experience a misguided inclination to take one more bite to ease the pain. And when that doesn’t work? Another.

Sweetening the Pot: Sauces with a Softer Side

Failing to explore the spectrum of food flavor is selling your tongue short — and it may even mess with your health.

Many nutritionists and dietary experts recommend that you include something to target each of the five primary taste sensations (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory) in a meal to best feel sated when you’re finished. The theory goes that when you offer a bit of each to your tongue, your brain calls it a meal much sooner than it would had you stuck with just one type of taste.

The recipes in this section give you tasty ways to test the theory by working some sweetness into your meals.

Blueberry Balsamic Barbeque Sauce

Brandon Hamilton dreamed up this recipe as a way to use up all those extra blueberries you tend to have at the end of the blueberry season. It’s a light and summery recipe that partners well with duck, chicken, seafood, and even beef.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 11⁄2 cups

  • 2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
  • 1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 pinch salt

1 In a saucepan, combine all ingredients.

2 Bring mixture to a boil; then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.

3 Remove pan from heat, and cool.

4 Transfer sauce to a blender, and process until smooth. Place in a plastic container with a lid and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Cardamom shows up in a lot of Indian recipes, because the plant that it comes from is native to the area. What you buy in a jar is either whole or ground seeds from the pod of the plant (although you also can buy whole pods), and the plant itself is part of the same family from which ginger and turmeric hail.

Cardamom has a sharp, almost orangey flavor that makes it a great match for many fruits. A sprinkle in ground coffee also does interesting and tasty things for your morning cup.

Bourbon Onion Chutney

A chutney is a condiment made from fruit and vegetables. Chutneys turn up a lot in Indian cooking. Brandon Hamilton developed this chutney with bourbon so that it goes especially well with grilled steak or pork chops.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1⁄2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1⁄2 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 2 1⁄2 ounces chopped dried apricots

1 In a heavy 12-inch skillet, combine the oil, onions, and mustard seeds, and cook on medium heat until the onions begin to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes.

2 Deglaze the pan with the bourbon, and then add molasses, allspice, water, and apricots.

3 Bring the chutney to a simmer and cook until thick, about 15 minutes.

When the mixture is thick, remove from heat, place into a plastic container, and refrigerate.

Tip: Adding liquid to a pan after you’ve roasted meat (or, in this case, caramelized onions) gives you a way to pick up the flavorful browned bits from the pan and incorporate them into a sauce. Deglazing describes the process, but all it really means is that you add liquid where you really didn’t have any. Doing so ensures that you make use of all the flavor instead of leaving behind what otherwise might cling to the pan.

Bourbon and barbecue have a long history together, maybe because both issue from the southern United States, maybe because bourbon, like smoked meat, takes on flavors from wood.

Bourbon isn’t bourbon unless it’s been aged for two years in a white oak barrel.

Apricot Preserve Dipping Sauce

Ginger is a great complement to the apricot preserves in this recipe from Anthony Hanslits.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Yield: About 11⁄2 cups

  • 10-ounce jar apricot preserves
  • 1⁄3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 inch ginger, unpeeled and thinly sliced
  • (about 18 slices)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice

1 In a saucepan, combine apricot preserves, soy sauce, ketchup, and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

2 Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

3 Strain liquid into a plastic container. Stir in lemon juice. Label, date, and initial.

Honey BBQ Wing Sauce

Use Paul Kirk’s recipe as a finishing sauce by brushing it onto any cut of cooked chicken, or as a wing sauce by tossing it in a large bowl with cooked wings.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 11⁄4 cups ketchup
  • 1⁄3 cup white vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup molasses
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon chili powder

1 In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients.

2 Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

3 Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Taking an Exotic Turn with Sauces That Cull Asian Flavors

Barbecue as we know it today has been around for about two centuries, max. Cooks in Asia have been at it for thousands of years.

Safe to say, we could learn a thing or two from them, and in this section, you find recipes that borrow flavors and methods from the much-older cuisine.

Indian Tamarind Sauce

Used in India as a condiment for a range of dishes, this sauce, interpreted here by Brandon Hamilton, has balanced flavors of tart and sweet that pair well with spicy or sweet barbecue. The tartness of the tamarind goes well with chicken, fish, and beef.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 11⁄4 cup cold water
  • 6 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • (available at most Asian markets)
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

1 Place the flour in a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the cold water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

2 In a small saucepot, combine remaining ingredients.

3 Place saucepot over medium heat and bring sauce to a simmer. Lower heat and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

4 Mix 2 tablespoons of the sauce into the flour mixture and stir until flour mixture is combine with sauce.

5 Now mix the flour mixture into the sauce in the saucepot. Stir until well combined.

6 Continue to cook until the sauce stars to thicken, about 5 minutes.

Tip: If you want, you can strain the sauce before you use it to remove the seeds.

Chinese Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

Brandon Hamilton developed this sauce to incorporate the Chinese hoisin sauce into a wonderful barbecue sauce that works well with chicken, seafood, pork, vegetables, and beef.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 1 cup

  • 1⁄2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the oil and mix together gently with a whisk.

2 When the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add the oil and mix until combined. This recipe stays good for 5 days in the refrigerator.

You should be able to find hoisin sauce in your supermarket, but if you’re having trouble, try an Asian market, which will offer up several choices.

The thick rust- or brown-colored sauce is made from soybeans, garlic, vinegar, as well as seasonings and sweeteners that vary from sauce to sauce. It’s a little bit sweet and has a flavor all its own — a little salty, very strong, often spicy.

In China, hoisin is used on its own as a dipping sauce or as an ingredient in other sauces.

Wasabi Mayo

Anthony Hanslits’ wasabi mayo recipe is a tasty topper for grilled or smoked salmon and a great dip for fries. Try it on hamburgers, or even use it to make a spicy slaw.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 2 cups

  • 1 cup wasabi powder
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

1 In a mixing bowl, place the wasabi powder. Add the water and mix until it forms a smooth paste.

2 Add the lemon juice and salt, and mix.

3 Add the mayonnaise, and stir until all ingredients are combined.

4 Place in a new plastic container. Label, date, and initial.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

A winner with a range of meats or with grilled vegetables, this peanut dipping sauce from Grillmaster’s Garden works particularly well with chicken.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: About 10 minutes

Yield: About 11⁄2 cups

  • 1⁄2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1⁄4 cup lime juice
  • 1⁄3 cup soy sauce
  • 1⁄4 cup sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon chile oil
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1⁄4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 In a saucepan, combine peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, red pepper flakes, chile oil, cilantro, and onions.

2 Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

3 In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until well blended.

4 Add the water-cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and stir until the sauce has thickened slightly.

5 Remove from heat and let cool in the refrigerator before serving.

Peanut butter becomes especially fragrant when you heat it. You may want to open some windows or make the sauce a day before you plan to invite people over so the heavy aroma has a chance to dissipate.

Cool Summery Takes on Sauces, Salsas, and Relishes

Fruits and vegetables are a clear partner for outdoor cooking, given that both become more common in the summer. Chicken sided with a ginger cucumber relish or grilled fish topped with fresh fruit salsa make for memorable meals.

This section provides smart ways for using the bright flavors of summer.

Guacamole Sauce

A great side for chicken or an excellent dip for snacking, this guacamole sauce from Grillmaster’s Garden is mild and refreshing.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 21⁄2 cups

  • 3 ripe avocados, pitted and scooped from the skins (see instructions following this recipe)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3⁄4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin

1 In a blender or food processor, combine the avocado, lemon juice, pepper, yogurt, and salt.

2 Process until sauce becomes smooth.

3 Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the tomatoes and green onions.

Pitting an avocado is easier the riper the avocado, and you may be able simply to scoop out the pit with a spoon. If not, use a chef’s knife to twist out the pit. Follow these steps (and Figure 11-1) :

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise.

2. Hold the half with the pit in your hand, peel-side down.

3. Swing the knife into the pit, using the weight of it and its momentum to bury it down into the pit a third of the way or so.

4. Twist out the pit.

5. Use a spoon to scoop out the fruit.


Figure 11-1: Pitting an avocado.

Ginger Tomato Relish

Brandon Hamilton’s relish recipe takes advantage of the bounty of tomatoes that summer brings. The flavors are very crisp and clean and go well with grilled meats, chicken, or fish. The relish also works all on its own as a salad.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: None, but 30 minutes to chill

Yield: About 5 cups

  • 1⁄4 cup apple rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
  • 1⁄3 cup peanut oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cups halved pear tomatoes

1 In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and ginger.

2 Gradually whisk in the oil.

3 Mix in the onions and green bell pepper.

4 Add the tomatoes to the relish base and toss to combine.

5 Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6 Place in a plastic container and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Ginger Cucumber Relish

Relishes are served as an accompaniment for many different meat items in a whole range of cultures. This one from Brandon Hamilton matches up with grilled chicken, roasted duck, and grilled fish.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: None, but estimate 1 hour to allow flavors to mingle and the cucumbers to soften

Yield: About 31⁄2 cups relish

  • 2 English cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into1⁄4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1⁄2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1⁄3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 In a mixing bowl, combine cucumbers with salt and gently toss.

2 In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, ginger, cumin, and cayenne pepper mix until the sugar is dissolved.

3 Mix the vinegar solution into the cucumbers and toss until combined.

4 Place into a plastic container and cover. Let the relish set for 1 hour.

English cucumbers are pretty close to seedless, so you can use them as they come. If you substitute a standard slicing cucumber (which in addition to seeds, has a thicker skin), you may want to cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. There’s no harm in eating the skins, but from a texture standpoint, scraping off some of the peel doesn’t hurt.

Chilean Fruit Salsa

Grillmaster’s Garden offers this vibrant salsa and recommends serving it atop grilled salmon.

Preparation time: 5 minutes plus 1 hour for chilling

Cooking time: None

Yield: About 3 cups

  • 1 cup plums, diced (about 3 plums)
  • 1 cup kiwi, diced (2 kiwis)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1⁄2 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1⁄2 red onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 jalapeño, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1 In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix.

2 Cover and let sit in refrigerator about 1 hour, to allow flavors to blend.


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