Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sauce-A-Palooza (Making Your Own BBQ Sauce)

Spring is fast approaching and many of you will be breaking out your barbecue grills and smokers for the summer. If any of you are like me you love to cook and eat barbecue. While there are a plethora of barbecue sauce choices on you local supermarket shelves, you can make your own unique barbecue sauces that are not only better in flavor, but are cheaper to boot. The great thing about making your own barbecue sauces is that most of you have already have the necessary ingredients in your pantry.

The following excerpt is from my BBQ smoker cookbook that I have been working on for some time. Like Seem to somehow get in the way, and I just not have had time to finish it. This chapter is on barbecue sauces, I hope you and you family will find the information useful and enjoyable.

Finishing Up (Sauce-a-Polooza)

Barbecue sauces come in a wide range of flavors and varieties. While examining the condiment isle at my local Wal-Mart I found more than fifty, that's right, more than '50' types or variations of barbecue sauce being sold. Depending on the brand and the celebrity chef who endorses the product the price can range from less than a dollar for a twelve once bottle when on sale to more than five dollars a bottle.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, your idea of what compromises a barbecue sauce may be somewhat different than say, mine. So to better understand what makes a great barbecue sauce, we need to look at a couple of variables that define what exactly a barbecue sauce is. These variables are primarily based on geography (where you live) and the type of ingredients used to prepare barbecue sauces in that region. It is generally accepted that there are five distinct geographic locations in the south and southwest that define the type and or flavor of a particular barbecue sauce. The Carolina's (North and South), Memphis, Kansas City, Texas, and Alabama. So to begin this barbecue sauce adventure, we will begin on the east coast in the Carolina's and work our way towards the west stopping in Kansas City, before heading south into Texas and then back to Alabama.

North and South Carolina

The Carolina's, which includes North and South Carolina is home to sauces that are primarily vinegar based. In both the eastern parts of North and South Carolina (white area on map) you will find sauces that are almost exclusively vinegar and pepper based, however as you travel towards the west, one finds that tomato sauce (orange area on map) begins to show up as an addition to this vinegar and pepper based sauce. In the mid-south region of South Carolina (yellow area on map) a unique variety of mustard based barbecue sauces can be found. Traveling towards the western part of the Carolina's along the Tennessee state line, we begin to see tomato sauce become a more dominant ingredient in barbecue sauces. However of all the sauces that come from this particular region, the most popular type or style of sauce comes from North Carolina generally known as “Lexington” or “Piedmont Style” barbecue sauce. This sauce is made from a combination of tomato sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes. While this is the type of sauce that is most associated with the Carolina's, as you can see, this region has a few other offerings.

Carolina Style (Piedmont or Lexington) Barbecue Sauce

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon paprika

In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and cool before bottling in a squeeze bottle. Makes about 2 cups.


Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce – Substitute ½ cup mustard for the ketchup, add ½ cup brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Omit the paprika and increase the chili powder to 1 teaspoon.

I first encountered this style of barbecue sauce when I lived in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Like everything, most cooks have their own particular take on this vinegar based barbecue sauce that is most often used on pulled pork. My particular variation includes the addition of garlic, onion and chili powders which I feel gives it an enhanced flavor profile. However, if you want a more basic or I hate to say “traditional” sauce simply omit these. Both of these vinegary, tangy sweet barbecue sauces are great on pulled pork and other smoked meats, and can generally be found in both North and South Carolina. As mentioned earlier, the tomato based vinegar sauce is sometimes called “Piedmont” or “Lexington Style” barbecue sauce, while the mustard based vinegar sauce found in Pee Dee or low coastal region of South Carolina is sometimes known as 'Carolina Gold.'

Memphis, TN

In Memphis, ribs and the dry rub are king and in the past, many Memphis barbecue restaurants did not offer a barbecue sauce, but over time patrons began to ask for sauce and a sauce based on the ingredients used in their dry rubs began to evolve. Now, just because the sauce may have been an afterthought and is not the focus of Memphis barbecue do not think for a minute that their sauces are inferior. Memphis style sauces differ from those of the Carolina's. Although vinegar is still a primary ingredient, it is generally pared with a equal amount of tomato sauce and or tomato ketchup as well as a variety of dry spices to give it a sweeter more complex flavor than it's Carolina cousins. As with my Memphis style sauce listed below, most restaurants start with a basic or all-purpose barbecue sauce and add various amounts of their dry rub to the sauce to give it a unique taste.

Memphis Style Barbecue Sauce

1 cup tomato ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons Memphis Style Rib Rub
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons molasses or honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Melt butter in a small saucepan and saute onions over low heat just until they are starting to turn golden brown. Then add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. While hot, puree sauce with an immersion blender, or allow to cool before placing it in a stand alone blender or food processor.


Old Number '7' – Reduce apple cider vinegar to ¾ cup, and omit the water. Add ¾ cup Jack Daniels 'Old No. 7' Tennessee whiskey and prepare as above.

Kansas City, MO

Our final destination on the western tour of the barbecue regions of the United States is Kansas City. This is the one style of barbecue sauce that most commercial barbecue sauces are based on. Sauces from this region are thick and sweet primarily composed of tomato sauce or tomato ketchup, with a minimal amount of vinegar and a multitude of herbs and spices. Kansas City Style sauces probably have the most ingredients of all the barbecue sauces giving them a subtle yet complex variety of flavors. Because of their heavy use of sugars Kansas City style sauces tend to burn easily when exposed to direct heat. Therefore, they are better served on the side, or added to the meat just before removing from the smoker or grill.

Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup prepared mustard
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black powder

In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove sauce from heat and cool, makes about 3 cups.


KC Masterpiece – Omit onion and garlic powders. Saute 1 medium onion in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat, when golden brown, add 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients plus ¼ cup A1 steak sauce and cook per instructions. Puree with an immersion blender or allow to cool and process in stand blender.

Sweet Baby Ray's – Substitute molasses for the honey and celery salt for the table salt. Add ¼ cup pineapple juice, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and cook per instructions.

Northern Alabama

Northern Alabama is our final destination on the southern barbecue tour. I am not really sure if this small area around Decatur qualifies as barbecue region, however, because of the uniqueness of their white barbecue sauce I have included it as well. Used primarily on chicken, this Alabama phenomenon can be traced back to restaurateur Bob Gibson in the 1920's. My current research indicates that there are actually a few restaurants just north of the border in Tennessee that use this style of white barbecue sauce, but that is to be expected as Decatur is close to the Alabama Tennessee state line.
I have included two recipes in this book for an Alabama style white sauce. The first, is my version of a Alabama white sauce, and I think is pretty close to Bob Gibson's original white sauce in flavor. The second, comes from Southern Living Magazine and has a sweeter, milder flavor. If you prefer your sauce to be sweeter, you could use a salad dressing such as Miracle Whip, but I think plain mayonnaise makes for a better sauce.

North Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup apple juice
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth and creamy. Place in refrigerator and allow to sit for 24 hours to allow all of the flavors to meld together.

Southern Living's White Barbecue Sauce

1 ½ cups mayonnaise
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth and creamy. Place in refrigerator and allow to sit for 24 hours to allow all of the flavors to meld together.


And now to my home state of Texas, where very things bigger, even the flavors. Texas is a big state and you will find quite a few variations and styles on sauces in different parts of the state, but most people would agree that one of the primary ingredients in a 'Texas Style' BBQ sauce is the use of tomato ketchup as opposed to tomato sauce. I am not sure if it was because of it's commercial availability or not, but ketchup became an integral part of Texas barbecue style barbecue sauces in the early part of the twentieth century. On March 26, 1937, an article in the Dallas Morning News, describes a Texas style barbecue sauce as follows:

“It is made simply of vinegar and hot water, melted butter if the purse allows, or rendered beef suet if not, black and red pepper and salt (pioneer sauce stopped there) and generous dashes of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Onions and sometime lemons are sliced into it… thicken it slightly with flour and water as thin gravy is thickened.”

Notice how closely the description of what the author of the article describes as 'pioneer sauce'. Sounds pretty close of a North Carolina 'Piedmont' style sauce doesn't it? Over time ketchup became a more prominent ingredient is Texas style barbecue sauces. Fast forward 80 years later and you will see that more specialty 'Texas' style sauce recipes are moving away from using tomato ketchup and substituting tomato sauce, sugar and other ingredients. However, in my humble opinion, the heart and soul of an original style Texas barbecue sauce is ketchup, just like grandma used to make.

This is essentially the type of barbecue sauce you’ll find at iconic Texas barbecue joints like Prine’s (1925) in Wichita Falls and Lenox BBQ (1949) in Houston. Allen Prine third generation owner of Prine's barbecue sums up Texas barbecue as follows: “We’re using the same recipe that my granddad used. He taught my dad how to make it, and my dad taught me. It’s vinegar, ketchup, mustard, and some spices.”

Todd's Texas Style Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cilantro, dried (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper

In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove sauce from heat and cool, makes about 3 cups.


Hawaiian Barbecue Sauce – Substitute ¾ cup pineapple and ¼ cup cold strong Kona coffee for the water, and soy sauce for the Worcestershire sauce. Add ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ginger paste, and omit the cilantro, and chili powder.

Jamaican Barbecue Sauce – Substitute ¼ cup of the water with soy sauce; add 3 tablespoons each of brown sugar, dark rum, and Jerk spice, 1 teaspoon ginger paste and 2 scotch bonnet peppers. Omit the cilantro, bay leaves, chili powder and mustard powder. Puree water, soy sauce, vinegar, and scotch bonnet peppers in a blender or food processor before adding it to the saucepan. If you don't have scotch bonnet peppers you can substitute jalapeños or 2 tablespoons of pepper sauce such as Trappy's which can be found in almost any supermarket in the United States.

Kansas City Barbecue Sauce – Add ¾ cup molasses, and ½ teaspoon celery salt; increase the red pepper and mustard powder to 1 teaspoon each and omit the cilantro. If you like a thicker sauce, decrease the amount of water to ½ cup.

Chef's Note: This barbecue sauce is not only great, but it is the basis of many variations of ketchup or tomato based barbecue sauces that I have created over time. One of my favorite is the Jamaican barbecue sauce which is very similar to a sauce that I experienced in Jamaica at a place called 'Yows Jerk Centre' that we stopped at on our way to Ocho Rios where I was married. Another unique sauce here is the Hawaiian which uses Kona coffee (Coffea arabica) which is only grown in the Kona district on the big Island of Hawaii to add a unique flavor to the sauce. If you cannot find Kona coffee, any coffee will do but the taste is just not the same.

Although I have a separate specific recipe for Kansas City Style barbecue sauce, I have listed instructions on how to take my Texas style barbecue sauce and transform it into more of a Kansas City style sauce.


All the sauces in this excerpt from my Barbecue Smoker Cookbook are great and I have made them all on many occasions. Having said all that, growing up in Texas, I prefer to use my Texas Style Sauce barbecue recipe as a basis for many of my variations and experimentation's. This is my “go to” sauce when cooking barbecue. It is pretty basic, but is a good representation of the sauce found throughout the state. As always, if you


“A Taxonomy Of Regional American Barbecue Sauces and Recipes.” The Huffington Post, July 16, 2010.

Aidells, Bruce, and Denis Kelly. The Complete Meat Cookbook. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 1998. Print

“All About Brining” The Virtual Weber Bullet, Accessed Nov. 24, 2010

“Food Labeling: Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms” USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, 12 April. 2011

Glissen, Wayne. Professional Cooking 3rd Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995. Print

“Grilled Chicken With White Barbecue Sauce.” Southern Living, May 2007

“Ham: Clean, Meaty Flavor and Tender Texture Win Out.” Cook's Illustrated, Nov. 1, 1999

“Inspection & Grading of Meat and Poultry: What Are The Differences?” USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, 22 Aug. 2008

Labensky, Sarah, and Alan Hause. On Cooking: A textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1999. Print

Lee, Matt and Ted Lee. “Fanfare for the City Ham, a Country Cousin.” New York Times, 20 Dec. 2006.

“Meat Preparation: Sausages and Food Safety” USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, 25 May 2011

Raichlen, Steven. The Barbecue Bible. New York: Workman Publishing Company 1998. Print

Friday, March 18, 2016

Southwest Style Pork Carnitas

While South and North Carolina have pulled pork, in Texas and Mexico we have pork carnitas. So what exactly are pork carnitas? Well it sorta depends on what part of the country you live, but essentially pork carnitas are cooked and shredded pork that is then served with corn or flour tortillas with various condiments such as lettuce, salsa, cheese, hot sauce etc...You get the picture right?

Anyway, the meat of choice for carnitas or at least the one I use is a bone-in pork butt. The size of the pork butt does not really matter as the seasonings and the procees used to cook the carnitas is the same. Just remember that if you are cooking for a large group or you want to place meals in the freezer, that on average, the yield from a pork butt is about 60% of the actual weight of the uncooked meat give or take 10%.

The Recipe

The traditional recipe for pork carnitas is pretty basic, take your pork butt out of the cryovac package season with salt and pepper. Now, I prefer to use my carnitas rub recipe on my pork butt. I simply like my rub better, and I am cooking for me and my family. Having said that, I have included the traditional method as well as my canitas rub so you can choose to go for the more bold flavors of Texas, or the more traditional Mexican carnitas. As always, the choice is yours.

1 bone-in pork butt
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cilantro, dried
salt and pepper or my optional carnitas seasoning (see below)

Add the garlic, onion, lime juice, and cilantro to the cooking device of your choice, then take your bone-in pork butt and season it thoroughly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan and brown the pork butt on all sides, then place the pork butt in the cooking container of your choice and cook as follows. Below I have listed some basic directions for cooking a pork butt in either the oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker.

Chef's Note: Some people prefer to just season the pork butt and place in their dutch oven or slow cooker without browning. Then after shredding they saute the shredded pork in olive oil until it is, slightly crispy. I will be honest, I just usually season my pork butt with my rub, throw it in my dutch oven and cook it. Then when it is done, shred the pork, sprinkle a little extra rub mix into the shredded pork and toss it will it is still warm, then serve.

Oven Method: Place the lid on the dutch oven or large roasting pan and bake for 225 degrees for 10 to 12 hours or until the internal temperature of the meat is greater than 170 degrees. I prefer to use my enamel coated cast iron dutch oven for cooking bone-in pork butts as it has thick walls and heats evenly helping to regulate the temperature more evenly than thin walled roasting pans, but as always you have to use what you have.

Slow Cooker Method: If you are fortunate to have a slow cooker that is large enough to hold your pork butt, then after you have browned it throw it in your slow cooker and cook it overnight or while you are at work. According to the 'Crock-Pot' website a 6-7lb pork butt takes 9 ½ hours (about 42 minutes per pound) on low and 7 ½ hours (about 55 minutes per pound) on high so you will have to adjust your cook times depending on the size of roast you are using.

Pressure Cooker Method : Recently we purchased an electric pressure cooker as my wife is not a big fan of the jiggler type pressure cookers that I have been using all my life. Having said that she uses it quite a bit and it does a really good job at cooking many items, one of the things that it cooks really well is bone-in pork butts. When using the pressure cooker method, add ¾ cup beef broth to the pressure cooker before adding your pork butt as you do not want to rinse the seasoning off your meat. Set your electric pressure cooker on high (9-11psi) and cook for 15 minutes per pound (i.e. a 3lb pork butt would cook for 45 minutes).

Todd's Preferred Carnitas Seasoning Mix

This is my own version of a pork rub that I use when I make pork carnitas rub. It has a more Texas or Southwestern flavor than a traditional pork carnitas seasoning. It is my “go to” carnitas seasoning rub when preparing carnitas for my friends and family. .

2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon cumin, ground
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container until ready to use. Makes about ¼ cup of dry pork canita rub, shake jar well before using


Making your own pork carnitas at home is easy, and delicious. Most of the ingredients here are recommended in our minimalist pantry series and most of you will have them in your pantry or refrigerator. So your outlay to make this recipe should only be the additional cost of the pork butt. Anyway, this is one of the recipes that my family loves that I just do not make enough of, and I hope it will become one of your families favorites as well. As always, if you have enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends and don't forget to send us a friend request on our 'CulinaryYou' Facebook page and follow us on Google+ so that you will not miss out on any of our new articles.

Resources Used In This Article:

BBQ Smoker Cookbook, By Todd Gamel (currently in editing phase)

Weinstein, Bruce, and Scarbrough, Mark 'The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book', Clarkson Potter, New York, 2015.

Other Money Saving Articles On Our Blog:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Classic Oven Fries

Let's face it, Americans, we love our french fries. In fact, I do not think there are to many foodss that we do not like that include the use of potatoes. In this article I will be talking about how to make a healthier baked alternative to french fries known as oven fries. While I have a large garden, potatoes are not one of the vegetables that I grow, simply because they are so darn cheap. Last week we 'comp priced' and a purchased a 5lb bag of russet potatoes for $1.49 from our local Walmart that were on sale at 'Rio Bravo Mexican Market. Honestly, I cannot grow them cheaper than that.

If you have read any of my articles regarding the Minimilasist Panty, then you will know that potatoes should be one of your essential pantry staples simply because of their versatility. Anyway, there are several ways to make french fries at home, but the easiest, quickest, and most healthy way is to bake them in the oven.

The Recipe

As I mentioned earlier, rather than fry our potatoes in a 'Fry Daddy' or electric skillet, we are going to season them with spices and then bake them in the oven with a minimal amount of olive oil until they are golden brown or simply cooked to your satisfaction. I have been using this recipe for years, but I cannot take credit for it, it is originally an old Good Housekeeping recipe that was first uploaded to their website in 2006. You can find the original recipe here: Classic Oven Fries.

Classic Oven Wedge Fries (My Version)

3 medium sized baking potaoes (russets)
4 teaspoons oilve oil
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you like your fries spicy)

Peheat your oven to 425 degrees, then spray a foil lined pan with non-stick spray. Then in a large bowl, combine the olive oil, and the remaining ingredients except the potatoes and mix throughly with a fork and set aside until you have finished cutting your potatoes.

Wash dry and cut your potaotes into wedges by first cutting the potato in half, then cut eat half in half again leaving you with four wedges. Then cut each of these four wedges in half again until you get a total of 8 wedges. Btw, I leave the skins on, remove them if you like, but the extra nutrients are in the skins and the skin helps hold the potatoes together.

Once your potaoes are cut, toss them in the bowl (6 to 8 wedges at a time) with the olive oil and seasonings/spices until they are throughly coated. Then place them on your spray lined cookie sheet in an even layer and place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the potato wedges over and cook for an additional 10 minutes (total of 25 minutes cook time).

Chef's Note: When I flip my fries over after the 15 minutes mark, I hit them lightly with the salt an pepper shaker. It is not necessary, but I like to do so anyway. In addition, after the total 25 minutes of cook time I sometimes turn on my broiler on low and cook for an additional 2 minutes just to brown the tops a little more.

Because I am a fan of all things when it comes to indian food, I have included my version of an Indian inspired oven fries recipe. These fries are great when serving grilled tandorri chicken or rabbit or any traditional indian dish which would call for potaotes (aloo) as a side dish. To make these Indian oven fries follow the same instructions as for the classic oven fries.

Indian Inspired Oven Fries

4 teaspoons oilve oil
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garam masala or curry powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

A Health Note

A large serving of french fries (154 grams or 5.4 oz) at McDonalds contains 24 grams of fat. The total fat combined in this recipe oven oven fries is 18 grams for three baking potaotes with a combined weight of 28 ounces. That's 4.4 grams of fat per ounce of french fries from McDonalds versus 0.64 grams of fat per ounce of classic oven fries. That means the homemade fries have 6.9 times less fat than those made at McDonalds (4.4 grams / 0.64 grams = 6.875).


These oven fries and great and easy to make. We eat them with hamburgers fresh from the grill or as a side for a nice steak instead of a baked potato. You can make them plain, mild, or hot and spicy, however you and your family desire. These oven fries are always a hit around here and I do not have to worry about all the unsaturated fats that are found in potatoes that have been deep fried.

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All About Potatoes

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