I am a big fan of BBQ sauce, but I find it hard to create my own. I have tried several recipes, all with top ratings, but they never turn out as I imagine them to be. A good all round BBQ sauce to me should be sweet, slightly tangy, smokey and with a gentle heat. There should be a backbone of tomato, then onion, garlic, and spices, and it should be almost drinkable on it's own if you know what I mean! Appearance wise, the sauce should be maroon colored, and slightly runnier than the type you would find in a store bought bottle.
The sauces I have made usually taste overly sweet, ketchup-y, and lack that overall balance, smokiness and wow factor that a good BBQ sauce should deliver. I always aim for restaurant quality!
Most of the sauces I have tried call for ketchup as the main source of tomato. I disagree with this, as I feel a good BBQ sauce (or any sauce for that matter) should be made as naturally as possible from scratch while minimizing the use of already manufactured products. Saying that, while I'm sure it would be nice to make a sauce from whole tomatoes like I make my salsa, for simplicity, I would choose 'passata' as my tomato base. I also believe there should be some form of 'stock' in the sauce, like beef bouillon for instance. There is obviously vinegar in there, along with either dark brown sugar or molasses (or both) for the rich sweetness. I am not sure if the onion and garlic flavoring should come from the real thing or from powdered form. I would include paprika, celery seed, cumin, chili, salt and black pepper as my spices, maybe mustard powder and worcestershire sauce too. I may also include some whole spices such as cloves, cinnamon, mustard, cumin & coriander seeds. The smokiness could come from liquid smoke, smoked paprika or from simply putting the sauce in the smoker!
I hope to generate and post a recipe on this thread that will be simple, fail-proof and capture that authentic BBQ sauce aroma & taste!
If you have any hints, tips or suggestions please feel free to share!