My man is fast becoming an expert in all things smoked. It’s how he does things.
Lots of research, lots of reading and comparing, until he gets it just right. We’ve made different dry rubs, and eaten a lot of delicious things. Brisket, smoked and dry rubbed sausages, ribs (still working on those), fennel and lemon chicken thighs, more brisket, smoked mint lamb shoulder. I’ve made a lot of salads – tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil and pesto; celery, apple, sultana and walnut/pecan/pistachio; carrot with smoked salt and a burnt orange dressing; pistachio, basil and celery leaf pesto; watermelon, feta and mint; peach, ricotta, olive oil and pomegranate molasses – , ground a lot of spices and smoked aubergines and halloumi. Our cupboard has a ton of bottled barbecue sauces in there, and we’re fast running out of room.
Today we’ve got ribs again – determined to get them right, but they are tricky as they can dry out really fast if you’re not careful. We don’t often get the very meaty fatty rib cuts here, so you have to make the best of what you can get, right? He wanted to make a mopping sauce today, so off we went. First port of call was the Pitt Cue book, and then Red’s Barbecue Bible. The mop sauce in there sounded like what he wanted, so we spent a half hour in the kitchen with me getting the ingredients, and him stirring, then me stirring because I get skittish when people in charge of a very hot pan of bubbling lava don’t hold on to the handle. Hey, it’s been my solo kitchen for 26 years, sharing takes some serious getting used to!
Anyhoo, here is the sauce we ended up with. He wanted it thicker than the recipe made it, so we tasted and tweaked, tweaked and tasted, and here is it.
125g soft light brown muscovado sugar
250ml apple cider vinegar
55g ketchup (we used Hellman’s, which is sweetened with honey. It’s less punchy than other brands.)
1 tsp salt
Put the vinegar and sugar into a pan on a low heat.
When the sugar has dissolved, whisk in everything else, and simmer for a good half an hour to meld the flavours. At this stage, is is a mopping sauce, and very thin.
We tasted it, and it needed something else.
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard
2.5 tsp cornflour slaked with 2 tsp water were then added and mixed in very well.
Simmer for another 10 minutes to thicken up, then leave to cool down until you can decant it into a squeezy bottle.
We think we’ve made something that’s a bit like a quick version of Branston Pickle juice. Personally I want it on a cheese sandwich very soon, and I think we’re going to have to make more.
(Once the ribs had had two hours in the smoker, we place them in foil, doused with the sauce, squirted with water and put them back in, all wrapped up, to essentially steam smoke for another 2 hours. It worked!)