Friday, January 15, 2010


The past few months I've given serious thought to getting into competition barbecue. I invested in a quality smoker (competitors are using WSMs with great results) and have begun to give serious thought to rubs and sauces. Oh and that new show, BBQ Pitmasters, just adds flames to the proverbial fire.

Living in Memphis helps with the idea. Barbecue culture is all around and one of the country's premiere compeitions happens here - Memphis in May. Because of that, there are many smaller competitions all around here. I'm easing my way into the mindset. I've gotta come up with some recipes and techniques so I can reproduce results in a variety of circumstances.

I've been playing around with some different sauce recipes lately and I hit on one turned out pretty well and thought I'd share. It's a sweet and spicy mix that's probably more Kansas City than Memphis, but it's good.

- 1/2 cup Ketchup
- 1/2 cup Apple Jelly
- 3 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tbl Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Tbl Soy
- 1/2 tsp Bufalo Chipotle Sauce (my local Krogers carry this, I'm sure you could get similar results mixing a little chipotle powder and vinegar)
- 2 Tbl Brown Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Fresh-ground Pepper

I was tired of cleaning my blender, so I combined the jelly and ketchup and whisked the hell out them to ensure the jelly got mixed properly. I then just threw everything together in a small saucepan, brought the mixture to a boil, turned to low and simmered for about 15 min.

It actually turned out a little too sweet for me, I think when I scale up the production size (at least double) I'll wind up cutting the apple jelly to 1/4 cup and substitute apple juice to bring up the liquid. The jelly is a wonderful emulsifier.

What I find most interesting about this sauce is that when it hits your tongue, you think it's going to be really hot, but it's not. So you get that spicy flavor without the tongue-burning after effects. I think this sauce would do well on chicken and ribs. It's a little too strong for pulled pork, I believe.

I'm going to make the larger batch tonight and I'll let y'all know if there are any significant changes or developments.

UPDATE: The smoker arrived missing parts. No smoking for it this weekend. :(


Mr. Bingley said...

my taste in sauces runs more to the western carolina tomato/vinegar end of the spectrum.

i just like vinegar on everything.

Cullen said...

I'm very sorry for you, Bing.`

Mr. Bingley said...


bummer about the parts, dude!

Maggie May said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am still trying to figure out how to work my smoker. Not much luck so far. Everything has been disappointing.

But always up for a good sauce recipie!!

Cullen said...

What kind of smoker do you have, MM?

If you have not yet been, go to the Virtual Weber Bullet forms, there is so much information there to help. It's geared toward Weber Smokey Mountain owners, but most everything posted there (with the exception of smoker mods) can be applied to any kind of smoking.

Smoking is a lot about technique and consistency. The first thing is to be able to hold a consistent temperature for a long time. Once you've got that down, you can adjust your cooking to meet your temperature profile. However, for general reference, try this for some kicking ribs:

> Rinse ribs in sink and pat dry.
> Remove bone-side membrane.
> Apply a rub (if you don't already have a favorite, Google "rib rub recipe" and you'll be deluged)
> For temps below 275 (which is what you want, cook for three hours. Then, pull the ribs, wrap them in foil, put them back on the smoker and cook for one more hour. You can put some liquid in the foil with the ribs - try some apple juice - to help keep them moist. After an hour, unwrap the ribs and cook another hour. If you must sauce the ribs on the smoker, only do so the last 15 minutes of cooking.

This is a 3-1-1 method of barbecuing ribs. A lot of folks use a 3-2-1, but I (and a lot of other people) think 2 hours in foil is too long.

Do this. Make good ribs. Adjust to your liking and make better ribs.

Cullen said...

Forums, that is.

Mr. Bingley said...

i haven't foiled yet. i do have to try that.

but i need to get a table near the smoker.

Cullen said...

A card table is a barbecuer's good friend.

Bing, I didn't foil my last two rib cooks. You can still produce amazing bones without it; I do find that foiling is a "bulletproof" way to ensure your ribs stay moist though.

Rather than foiling, I sprayed the ribs with an apple juice/oil mix every 15 or 20 min. It works great, but I didn't realize any improvement over just foiling. In fact, it was a pain to keep up with. In the future, I'm just gonna foil the puppies.

Mr. Bingley said...

yeah, i keep thinking about getting one and putting it down by the smoker. but it will make my yard just look like poo.

Cullen said...

Get the collapsable kind. Just use it when you're cooking. Wipe it down, break it down, put it in the garage.

w/v: gabehe - we accept you, we accept you as one of us.