If you have never made your own barbecue sauce before, I’m going to have to insist that you try to at least once. And while I’m loath to ensnare myself in the myriad layers of barbecue conviction across this land — from the don’t-come-near-my-sauce-with-those-tomatoes whole-hoggin’ in Carolina to the don’t-you-dare-come-near-my-mesquite with sauce in Texas (and then the small matter of me being from New Jersey where barbecue just meant cooking your hamburgers and hot dogs outdoors) — I might have to insist that you try this one because it’s sacrilegiously good.
My crush on Ina Garten is almost as strong as my Martha-crush, if not stronger as she’s never once failed me and I believe we share an absorption with making typically unremarkable foods remarkable again. Her lemon cake has got to be one of the top five cakes ever made with her orange chocolate chunk version squarely in the top ten; her coleslaw made me like coleslaw and her barbecue sauce is a spectacular Eastern/Asian/Southern mutt.
I’ll admit it’s a bit of an ingredient dump. I hate overly relying on things from jars and bottles when cooking, so this recipe taking but two of thirteen ingredients from the produce aisle caused me pause — the first time. After I’d tried it, however, with flavors so loud you can almost hear them, I’ve happily brought home groceries bags full of clink and liquid weight to make it again and again.
Since we’re barbecue-agnostic in these parts, we felt free to couple our sauce-laden chicken with asparagus and a radicchio/napa slaw for dinner and I encourage you to also innovate as you please. I suspect Whole Foods boneless, skinless chicken thighs broiled in the oven weren’t getting us invited to any Memphis pig-pickins, anyhow.
Ina Garten’s Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from her Food Network show
This is a tangy, subtly spicy, delicious mutt of a barbecue sauce. On her show, Ina Garten explained that she had at one point tried to develop different sauces to complement different cuisines — from Asian to various South Eastern regions — but only when she mixed them all together in frustration did she find exactly her barbecue sauce nirvana. I couldn’t agree more. I make this all summer, freeze leftovers in one-cup servings, and sob when we run out.
Makes 6 cups
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup tomato paste (10 ounces)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup honey
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
In a large saucepan on low heat, saute the onions and garlic with the vegetable oil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 30 minutes. Use immediately or store in the fridge.
Do ahead: This sauce freezes excellently, for months at at time.