What makes the best barbecue sauce?
By Chef Peter Mollett
Sweet or tangy? Thick or thin? Barbecue sauce lovers continually debate what makes the best sauce. I was invited to join in the discussion Friday, June 8, at the 2nd Annual Barbecue Summer Camp in College Station, Texas. The sold out event is hosted by Foodways Texas in partnership with the Meat Science Department at Texas A&M University. My presentation will focus on the science of barbecue sauce.
So what makes a great barbecue sauce and how should you pair it with meat? While a barbecue sauce’s beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, the foundation for a well-balanced and great tasting sauce indisputably starts with chemistry.
Acidity, sweetness and physical properties (thick or thin) are the main components of a good sauce.
Acids are a key ingredient in barbecue sauce because they help break down the proteins in the meat. That means your meat will be less stringy, and your freshly grilled barbecue will have that perfect flavor and texture. While vinegar is typically used to provide the acid, there are several other types including citric or tomato/ketchup-based.
No barbecued meat is complete without that nice crust, and you can thank the sweeteners added to barbecue sauce for that perfect finish. Barbecue sweeteners run the gamut, from the traditionally used sugar and corn syrup to the new kids on the block, honey and agave.
Sauce thickness is always a personal preference. A thicker sauce is perfect for slathering and glazing meats on the grill, while thinner sauces are great for marinating and dipping.
Depending on where you’re from in the U.S., you’ll favor certain flavor profiles. The Midwest likes their sauce sweet and thick, while down ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ we like it sweet, thin and spicy. In the Carolinas, no barbecue sauce is complete without that vinegar bite, but in the South Pacific they prefer their sauce with hints of fruit and soy.
So what’s the perfect barbecue sauce pairing? I recommend a sweet and vinegar sauce for beef; vinegar or mustard based sauce for pork; a sweet sauce for poultry; and a citrus/fruit based sauce for fish. There’s also a great sauce for vegetarians. Sweet and soy based is the perfect complement to soy proteins.
Now that you know the barbecue sauce basics, you should experiment with some of Smokin’ Texas Gourmet’s products. We’ve got sauces from tangy to sweet and spices that will bring out the flavor at any barbecue feast. The best part is they’re all natural and formulated with underlying process of cooking in mind.
I hope you have a wonderful summer and happy grilling!
For more information on our products, visit www.smokintexasgourmet.com/
For more information on the BBQ Symposium, go to Barbecue Summer Camp | Foodways Texas