For beef barbecue and most smoking or grilling, I make a tomato/stock based barbecue sauce that isn't Texas or KC, but along the same lines.
When you make generic "barbecue sauce," it's a good idea to remember -- that at heart -- they're tomato based sweet and sours; and the sweet/sour balance is key. It's yours to play with, don't let someone else tell you what you like.
When you choose your sweeteners, remember: Molasses is "sharp." White sugar is "pure sweetness." Honey and maple syrup are "mellow." Brown sugar, often referred to as "caramel flavored," is simply white sugar and molasses, thus there's no need to use commercial brown sugar for anything but baking, but you certainly can if you like.
This particular iteration calls for beef stock. If the sauce will only be used for pork or poultry, you may want to mix the beef stock with chicken stock, 50/50. For general use barbecue sauce, I find that beef is more versatile than the mix.
This recipe also allows for the possibility of liquid smoke. As many of you know, liquid smoke is anathema to competition level pit masters, but a necessity to practically everyone else. I stopped using smoke a long time ago, then started using it again to please my wife; it may be childish, but it turns out I like it too. I'm not the Pope of Sauce, do what pleases you and yours.
BASIC BARBECUE SAUCE
(Yield about 2 qt)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 red or green bell pepper (optional)
Mild chili (optional), amount depending
1 tbs Ground Chipotle (optional), or 1 canned chipotle plus 1 tbs of the adobo (also optional)
2 tbs Tomato Paste
1 cup Ketchup
2 cups Tomato Juice
2 cups beef stock, or 1 cup strong stock, or 2 tbs "Better than Bullion"
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup white sugar, honey or maple syrup -- your choice
1/4 cup prepared, yellow mustard
1/4 cup prepared espresso, strong coffee, or 2 tsp instant coffee
1/4 cup Bourbon
3 tbs Worcestershire
Fresh ground black pepper
Hot sauce (optional), if and as desired
Liquid smoke (optional), if and as desired
Chop the onion and other aromatics to a medium or fine dice. Chop the canned chipotle very fine if using.
Put half the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, and when it's melted add the aromatics. Cook them until they are soft.
Add the chipotle (of whatever type) if using and cook until the "raw" comes off the powder or until the chili and adobo are incorporated, and the aromatics evenly stained with color.
Stir in the tomato paste, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it darkens and the "raw" comes off; about three minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients (up to, but not including the black pepper), and bring to a simmer. Reduce until you have nearly achieved the desired consistency.
Set your pepper grinder to coarse, and grind in enough pepper so that the flakes are barely visible in the sauce. Taste and add salt.
Taste again for sweet/sour balance. If the sauce isn't sour enough to be tangy, add more vinegar. If the sauce is pushed too far towards sour, add more sweetener of whatever type is desired.
Add as much hot sauce of whatever type you like to achieve your desired level of heat.
Add as much liquid smoke as desired. Or none at all. Up to you.
When the sauce reaches your desired consistency, turn off the heat. Cut the remaining butter into four pieces and beat them into the sauce, one at a time. Alternatively, you may use a counter-top or immersion blender to beat the butter in while pureeing the aromatics.
Let the sauce cool, and pour the sauce into clean glass jars. You may strain the aromatics out or leave them in, as desired. As a rough roule of thumb: Sieving a sauce makes it smoother and shinier.
Cool completely before refrigerating.
Because it's so acid, this sauce will hold in the refrigerator for quite a while.
PS. This recipe is my original creation. If you want to reproduce it to share with other people you have my permission so long as you attribute it to me, Boar D. Laze.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/28/11 at 3:40pm