Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the Colors of Spice and the Secret in the Sauce...

I really love making my own BBQ sauce.  There is nothing comparable to the sweet scent of all those spices simmering away in a rich, thick liquid on the stove.  While researching the rules for the new Cottage Food Law in Colorado (a law just passed to legalize home-based food sales), I was so disappointed to see that BBQ sauce was on the list of foods not allowed for resale.  I don't understand the reasoning behind that rule, and I don't want to accept it, but I suppose I have to.  Once I get around to selling some of my own homemade goods, that is.

This is my third recipe for BBQ sauce, not because the others weren't fantastic, because they were, but because I like variety, and experimenting with different flavors is a lot of fun.  My first recipe for Coca Cola Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce was a huge hit last summer when we had a few friends over for a BBQ dinner of pulled pork, ribs, corn on the cob with bacon butter, baked beans and ice cream cake.

When the sauce ran out, I made a new batch in February, this time with Bourbon and Beer, which was also amazing, in spite of my aversion to both of those on their own, and perfect for the cold snowy months.  Racks of ribs, a few pounds of pulled pork, and slow-cooked crockpot chicken have been enjoyed with these sauces on snowy weekends.

After making strawberry orange creamsicles the other day, we had a lot of orange juice left, and so I decided to make this batch of BBQ sauce with orange juice and zest, cinnamon and maple syrup.  And of course, with all the other wonderful flavors of tomato, onion, molasses, garlic, and many spices.

For the ribs we were going to have for dinner, I mixed up a dry rub to complement the flavors in the sauce.  The colors of the spices were so beautiful and vibrant.  Do you think you could name all these spices just by looking at them?  I'm not sure I'd get them all right without tasting them, too, since some spices can look so similar.

As I mixed up the dry rub, I realized that I'd just used the last cup of brown sugar in the sauce, and had none left for the rub.  But I remembered a little trick I'd heard somewhere that I'd never tried before, of making my own brown sugar by mixing white granulated sugar with a little molasses.

And it was just that simple.  A cup of sugar in a bowl, with a tablespoon or so of molasses, combine with a fork, and I had brown sugar.

The ribs slow-cooked all afternoon in the oven on their bed of yellow onions, orange slices and whole garlic cloves, with a sweet, steamy bath of orange juice and apple cider vinegar to keep them moist.  Brushed generously with the sauce and finished on the grill, they were melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness with the flavor of the oranges taking center stage.

We also ate fresh green beans sauteed with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and twice-baked potatoes, the filling mashed with onions, bacon, creamy buttermilk and Parmesan cheese.  I wanted to put sauce on everything.

I'm always asking Jamie to tell me what his favorite between such and such recipes are, a question he never likes to answer as he's sure that's a trick question and he's going to get in trouble for the "wrong" answer, whichever one he picks.  But if I had to pick a favorite of my three sauce recipes, I think I'd have to pick the first one with the Coca Cola, even though I loved the unique flavors of each one.  Now that we have fresh BBQ sauce on hand, I've got two dinners planned this week for using it, that I think the orange-scented sauce will be fantastic on - shredded chicken tacos with avocado, and burgers this weekend.

Making the sauce is the easy part.  Smelling it simmer for hours while forcing yourself not to taste it every half hour while waiting for dinner is the hard part.

But so, so worth the wait.

Dry Rub with Orange Zest
printable recipe
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of one orange

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Yields about 1 cup.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Orange, Cinnamon and Maple BBQ Sauce
printable recipe

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (seeds removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion and salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cinnamon stick.

Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth.  Add the cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer.

Simmer uncovered for 3 hours, until sauce is rich and thick and the flavors have deepened.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Yields about 4 cups.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Baby Back Ribs with Orange, Cinnamon and Maple BBQ Sauce
printable recipe
  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup dry rub (above)
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce (above)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Rub the rack of ribs on both sides with the garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Season all over with the dry rub.  In a large baking pan, lay the garlic, onion and orange slices in the bottom.  Place the ribs in the pan, bone side down.  Pour the orange juice and apple cider vinegar into the pan.  Cover with foil.

Cook for 5-6 hours, until the meat easily pulls away from the bone and is very tender.

To finish, heat the grill to medium high.  Brush the ribs generously with the BBQ sauce, then grill for 5-10 minutes on each side for a nice char.

Yields 2-4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Twice Baked Potatoes with Buttermilk and Bacon
  • 4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup minced sweet yellow onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil.  Poke the potatoes a few times with a fork, rub all over with the oil and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 1 hour, until tender.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350.  Holding the potatoes with an oven mitt, slice the tops off each potato, reserving the tops.  Carefully scoop out most of the potato, leaving enough around the edges and bottom so that the potato shells hold their shape.

Mash or whip the potatoes with the buttermilk, butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.  Stir in the onion and half the bacon, then season with salt and pepper.  Mound the filling into the potato shells and sprinkle with the rest of the bacon and cheese.  Brush the potato tops that you sliced off with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, bacon and cheese, and bake those along with the potatoes for crispy potato skins.

Bake until warmed through, about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the paprika.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen


  1. A. MAY. ZING. photography!
    and some pretty yummy looking sauce :)

  2. Looks incredible - as always! I'm with you - there's nothing quite like homemade sauce...and I LOVE your title! (FAB pics, btw)


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