Disclaimer: I am not Cowboy Mike, just another nerd.
It's hard to walk down the aisle of any grocery these days and not encounter entire rows dedicated to bottles of often uninspired slop and chemical soup proclaiming to be the cure-all of barbecued meat's ills (as if there were any). The presence is overpowering in the suburbs and mega-marts where factory foods are the ruling class, and imagination never really makes it past the bottling process. Sauce, which should be handled as a fun frosting on an amazing cake, often assumes the title role of "barbecue" when the end-results are A: less than desired, or B.: not really barbecue. I'm sorry, but lightly spiced ketchup on a hot dog does not good 'Q make, and don't expect Kraft to cover up a lackluster hunk of meat. Because of this function, suddenly sauce is a culinary thought-terminating cliche, it's become a prisoner within blandly predictable bottle in the back of the fridge that fills its own void.
It is these reasons that I have snobbishly relegated barbecue sauce to a dismal perch in my mind, and today, I'm embarking on a journey to settle the score.
I have to admit as much as I proclaim myself to be a purist, and tell my friends that I have little room in my life for barbecue sauce, in the shadows I revel in the idea of finding the 'one sauce to rule them all', and spend countless hours pondering just how in the world I could concoct this white whale in a jar. I say concoct, because, frankly, unless I make this, it will ever chafe me that I have chosen to stand on someone's shoulders, the burden of this mad goal must me mine alone to bear.
This clip from the episode of MST3K I began watching the other night burst in upon my musings as a divine summons:
While it was all a ridiculous gag with puppets and a 'decidedly un-bold' sauce (the horror!), it spoke to my inner conflict over the matter, and summoned me to a crusade for a truly unique sauce that will always produce a "wow" effect, and share it with the world.
This thread will primarily act as my lab report on the matter of development, and hopefully, inspire enough folks in the World Wide Web's heart of all things Barbecue to start their own sauce project, and share the results. The revolution will be blogged.
When I think of a perfect sauce, my first thought is: complexity. Too many of the sauces out there are a one-trick pony that hit hard, fade fast, and offer little ammo for contemplation. Personally, something sweet-tart with a worthwhile amount of heat, and (most importantly) layers of flavors, so each mouthful is somewhat different.
My second thought is texture. To me, thick sauces are fun, because they really work like a nice frosting for the amazing meat 'cake' if you will, however, this is my personal opinion. If I make a sauce, I want it to be a slather, but I have nothing against thinner sauces if they fit the application.
Finally, I think of these insidious bottles of modified ketchup that is the conception of corporate food to mislead us into perceiving as the real deal, besides, isn't Ketchup the junk you put on that nasty macaroni and cheese that spawns in a blue box? While I cannot argue the role of ketchup in making many sauces I'd much rather see it relegated to supporting cast, in short, I'm telling it to get off the stage, and go fiddle with the block-and-tackle.
Finally, there needs to be a 'huh' factor. Something, some flavor that surprises the unsuspecting. An unexpected flavor that sneaks in from afar and makes itself known through subtlety.
Of course, enough talk, it's time to make a plan....