While some purists look down on sauce, many Texans pour it on
Among pit masters and casual connoisseurs in Texas, the question of barbecue sauce can lead to spicy debate. If barbecue is done right, there’s no need for sauce, some purists argue. Others argue that sometimes sauce can give barbecue that extra flavor and kick, no harm done.
Almost every barbecue establishment in Texas has a jar or squeeze bottle on the table. Most are very good. And no offense to the pit masters, but the addition of the sweet, tangy flavor to the various meats and even sides is welcomed by many patrons.
For the home cook spending the weekend grilling, the sauce can cover a variety of flaws, as well as being a baste near the end of the grilling process.
Texas barbecue sauce usually is sweet and tangy at most barbecue joints, but it wasn’t always that way. Early homemade sauces generally had vinegar, salt and pepper. It was mainly for mopping during cooking and as a dipping sauce when served. As with most sauces, regional differences appear, some even have mayonnaise or mustard as a base.
This sauce is adapted for home use from Aaron Franklin’s sauce at his highly regarded barbecue house, Franklin Barbecue, in Austin.
Classic Barbecue Sauce
1¾ cups ketchup
½ cup plus, 2 tablespoons water
¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons, plus 1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and warm gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cool and move to a serving jar or bottle.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.