Being as I’m originally from the south and all, I’m pretty sure that it’s a law of the universe that if you don’t make a huge mess while eating ribs, you’re doing it wrong. But the sad truth of it is that most people don’t know how to do ribs right–like making proper pulled pork, there’s a trick to it.
Ribs require a longer period to cook. You can’t just toss them on the grill like a burger and slap some sauce on them. Also, like many tougher cuts of meat, they benefit from an extended slow cook in a moist environment. You can boil them, you can smoke them, you can even toss them in a dutch oven and let them slow-roast all day.
But right now we’re talking about the sauce… something else which is frequently neglected in favour of cheap store-bought kinds that taste more like MSG than a medley of awesome. Yes, I did say medley of awesome, because the “few ingredient” movement doesn’t belong in BBQ sauce. A proper homemade BBQ sauce is a multi-ingredient symphony composed by the food version of Bach. Maybe Beethoven.
You close your eyes and pick out all the notes on your tongue. Especially if you use the non-HFCS version of the Heinz Ketchup knockoff recipe, which has the lovely undertone of honey in it.
Making a BBQ sauce to suit your personality is easier than most people think, and once you’ve become a little bit comfortable with the process, you can let your creativity shine through. The trick to making your own is to go slow, adding ingredients a little at a time until you find a balance that suits. And remember– you’ll never be able to get a superior product with inferior ingredients.
This sticky sweet and spicy BBQ sauce has a kiss of sesame oil. Sesame oil can be a little strong, but it’s 100% awesome on pork ribs or porkchops. It suits chicken OK too. For the love of little green apples, use pure maple syrup and be cautious about liquid smoke. A little goes a long way. If you’ve got lots of guests, double the recipe.
And if you come out after making this smelling like a bonfire at a Chinese restaurant, you’re doing it right.
- 1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup ketchup (if you make your own, you'll have that lovely complimentary flavor of honey, too!)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 tsp hickory liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp water
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste (at least one twist of the grinder)
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the ingredients together over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, simmering until mixture thickens slightly, at least 20-30 minutes. It will thicken more as it cools.
- Cover and cool completely, then transfer to a mason jar and refrigerate at least 1 hour before use. Store refrigerated for up to two weeks.