Grandma's BBQ sauce

Good barbeque is made from two things; good meat and good sauce. Today we're talking about the later half of the equation.  Just like wine different types of meat call for different types of sauce.  What we have here is my beloved Grandmother Meinecke's sauce witch I find great on milder meats such as country style ribs and chicken. This is was apparently a closely guarded secret passed from mother to daughter as Grandma wouldn't tell me how to make it and Mom was not only as helpful but darn right hostile when I tried to get the recipe from her.  A little subterfuge aside, I'll save you the hassle of talking to my mom.

One of the difficulties I had when acquiring the recipe was realizing it's not a formal recipe at all, it's a list of ingredients that are mixed in proportion to one's mood for the day.  I'm providing basically a middle of the road "average" mix if you will.  The second difficulty when duplicating this was the fact that it's not just a list of ingredients to be dumped in a pot, there is a definite sequence to cooking it right.

Step 1; dice two large onions and brown them in a pan with a few tablespoons of oil. It's very important to brown the onions as the caramelizing radically changes the flavor of the onions.  Make sure not to burn too many of the onions in the process.

Step 2; add 1/2 gallon of pickle juice.  Yes pickle juice.  Whenever I eat pickles, I save the pickle juice for just such an occasion.  I keep a large jar in the back of the fridge and every time I finish off a jar of pickles the juice gets dumped in the big jar.  When the big jar gets full, it's time to make BBQ sauce.  After you add the pickle juice, bring it to a boil.

What kind of pickle juice should I use?  Primarily I use juice from dill pickles, but occasionally a jar of sweet pickles gets added.  I figure the type of juice you add will be determined by the type of pickles you eat (see it's not really a recipe).

Step 3; add about 2 cups of brown sugar and 4 cups of white sugar to taste based on the sweetness you like.  I have tried molasses at this point, it didn't work, there was a very wrong flavor interaction, don't do it.  Bring the mix to a boil and make sure all the sugar has been dissolved.  If you're trying to calorie conscious, you could replace some of the white sugar with Splenda at this step, I have and it works pretty well.

Step 4; add two 23oz cans of tomato puree and two small cans of tomato paste as a thickener.  I personally like a little bite to my BBQ so I add about a tablespoon of cayenne pepper at this point, if you're not a pepperhead don't leave the pepper out, just use much less of it.

At this point the sauce is very thin but is a great boil for pulled chicken or pork and will make you melt when you make a sandwich from the stringy goodness that has been boiled in this.  If you are wanting a jug of BBQ sauce for using here and there over time, do not cook meat in it.  If you are wanting a jug of the best BBQ sauce you've ever had for the fridge, let the mix cook on a medium-low and reduce for an hour or two until it reaches the thickness you like, cool and fill some jugs.  Economy sized picante sauce jugs are great as long as you mark them to avoid accidentally getting a BBQ burrito (wives really hate that).


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