Saturday, June 18, 2011

Big-Hearted Father’s Day BBQ Sauce
What’s cooking? Harry’s Best BBQ Sauce

I’m back! And just in time for Father's Day. So in honor of my own dear Dad, I’ve come with a recipe for the best barbecue sauce ever. This is what a loyal daughter does: she declares her father’s barbecue sauce recipe the best ever. Even if he’s no longer around to bask in the glory. But with my own personal bias disclosed, I will still promise that this sauce is pretty damn great.

By most accounts, daughters have their fathers wrapped around their little fingers from Day 1. I am probably no exception. My dad was a great guy who would have done back flips for me if he could have.

Dad defined living large: loving passionately, crying easily, singing loudly off-key, and giving generously, even when he didn’t have much. He grew up on Long Island and in Old Greenwich, but when my mother refused to leave her family in Texas, he adopted the Lone Star State as his own with a zeal you just had to get used to – boots and cowboy hat included. My husband (from Pennsylvania) can still make me laugh with his imitation of the first time he met Dad.

“Hiiiiii, Jeee-um, niiiiiice to meetcha. Ah’m Harry Stokes, and Ah’m from Texas,” he’d say, as the hand pumped up and down for a good 30 seconds.

He was a terrific grandfather to my sons, who remember that he taught them both to ride a bike, and took them to McDonald’s for breakfast where he let them order the Everything Meal and never said a word when they ate a tiny fraction of it.

He taught me some things, too. About loyalty and integrity. That great love is worth working for. That it’s better to embrace the world than to hold it at arm’s length. But most of all he taught me that you must never give up on your children.

Dad was legendary for his skill at the grill, as long as you didn’t mind a bit of char on your meat, because he always started with a BIG fire. For the sauce, he’d mostly rummage around in the pantry, pulling out whatever ingredients he thought sounded good. I had to follow him around the kitchen with a notepad to get this recipe, but it was well worth the trouble. It makes a lot, but keeps well in the refrigerator.

Harry’s Best Barbecue Sauce

1 stick butter
1 medium onion, cut in ½-inch dice
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
8 oz Wish-Bone Oil & Vinegar Dressing (For a slightly sweeter profile, use Wish-Bone Balsamic Vinaigrette)
8 oz Heinz BBQ Sauce (which, for a test, I was unable to find at my grocery store, so I used Jack Daniel’s Master Blend BBQ Sauce)
2 lemons, cut in half and seeded
garlic salt to taste
¼ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter and saute the onion 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the salad dressing and the bottled BBQ sauce. Squeeze the lemons into the liquid, then add the lemons themselves to the mix. Bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer 15-20 minutes until the flavors are well combined. Remove the lemon halves.

Use in grilling chicken, pork, and burgers.

Kitchen Goddess note: Dad’s technique with chicken was to dip the pieces into the sauce before putting them on the grill, and to repeat the process when he turned them over. From what I’ve read, this is not a practice that would be adopted by a professional chef. But Dad mostly got raves for his chicken, so who am I to argue with success?