Smoke and Spice
All-American barbecue sauces and the right wine to brighten your backyard cookouts
by Sam Gugino from Wine Spectator magazine
JUN. 19, 2006 ( www.winespectator.com) - The French may have given the world bordelaise, hollandaise and demi-glace, but America gets the credit for barbecue sauce. "French sauces are great, but they're not much fun," says Steven Raichlen, whose decidedly fun Beer-Can Chicken: And 74 Other Offbeat Recipes for the Grill includes barbecue sauce recipes with ingredients such as black cherry soda, prune juice and Belgian beer.
Barbecue sauce should not be confused with barbecue, the method of slow-cooking for a long period over low, indirect heat. With this type of cooking, sauce, if any, is added at the table, though many barbecue purists shun sauce entirely. Barbecue sauce is meant for foods that are grilled over direct heat, often high heat, for a relatively short period of time.
As with barbecue cooking, barbecue sauces have regional characteristics. Kansas City-style sauce is the most common nationwide. It has a tomato or ketchup base and pronounced sweet, sour and smoky elements.
Barbecue sauce from nearby St. Louis usually has a tomato foundation but without the smoke (which normally comes from bottled liquid smoke).
North Carolina's barbecue sauce, traditionally put on that state's beloved pulled pork shoulder at the table, is vinegar-based; the sauce is clear in eastern North Carolina and tomato-red in the western half.
Mustard is the key ingredient in the sauces of Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi. White barbecue sauce, made from mayonnaise, cider vinegar and black pepper, is big in Alabama, where people have it on chicken.
In Texas, beer and chilies form the basis of a rather watery sauce. In the Southwest, from New Mexico to California, tomato salsa and pico de gallo qualify as barbecue sauces, since that's how they're often used. And there are scores of other ethnic sauces for grilled foods, including mojo, a blend of lime juice, cumin and garlic favored in Miami's Latino community.