I believe that the smoke flavor in barbecue should come from whatever is being cooked on the grill, not from the sauce. Of course, in this world of gas grills, that can be difficult unless you use packets of wood smoking chips. Following is a post I entered months ago about the barbecue and sauce that my husband and I make. This is a repeat, so please bear with me and my southern inclinations:
'Cue done right...the Tarheel Way
You will have to pardon my prejudice. Since I'm from North Carolina, I have a special love for down-home Pig Pickin's as Barbecue is referred to in my home state. Barbecue is a religion there, and always made with pork (NC is the 2nd largest pork producing state in the nation.) People guard their sauce and technique recipes fiercely. As to the sauce style, this varies even within the state. Down east, in the coastal plain, barbecue sauce is hot and vinegary, sometimes made with only crushed red pepper, white vinegar and a little sugar. Toward the west, in the piedmont and mountainous regions, barbecue sauce is thicker (though still runny), darker, tomatoey and sweeter.
I've included here a recipe for the authentic NC barbecue that my husband and I make every year at our Labor Day BBQ party. The sauce is a lovely marriage of the eastern and western NC styles. I know it's long, but the true 'Cue experience requires a labor of Love. Enjoy!
Carolina Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 3 quarts
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
1 bulb garlic, unpeeled and broken into cloves
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
8 dried New Mexico chilies
2 dried ancho chilies
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans (26 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes, with juice
1 quart apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
1/4 cup salt
In a large stock pot combine the honey, molasses, garlic, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, chilies, and bay leaves. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is caramelized, but not scorched.
Add the tomato paste and tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the tomatoes. Add the vinegar, water, and salt; the sauce will be thin.
Simmer, uncovered for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours (much better), stirring occasionally. Remove any large pieces of garlic skin and bay leaves. Puree sauce in a blender or food processor. (I like to use a food mill using the smallest sieve-plate.)
Note: This sauce will keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator, but tends to loose its hot-kick, though the flavors are, otherwise, just fine. It's the perfect combination of the eastern and western North Carolina pork barbecue disciplines. It's great on chicken, turkey, stronger fishes (tuna, salmon, grouper) and beef, but just plain weird with lamb. Goat I have not tried, but who knows?
Scott Howell (the chef at Nana's restaurant) suggests you marinate pork shoulder in 1/3 of the sauce for 2 days, mop the pork as you smoke it with 1/3 and reserve the rest to drizzle over your pulled pork. I find all that is a lot of trouble. It wastes a lot of sauce during the marinating process and leads to tomatoey-tasting pork. If you try to mop the pork during the smoking process, you loose a lot of heat and smoke by constantly removing the lid lengthening the cooking time considerably.
Here's how to smoke Carolina-style barbecue on a Weber kettle grill:
Prepare a brine by dissolving 1 cup of kosher salt in 1 gallon water. Submerge 2 7-8 lb. pork shoulder picnics in the brine, cover with cheesecloth. Allow to soak for about 24 hours, turning occassionally.
Soak 2 cups of hickory chips in water for 30 minutes. Start a slow fire with natural chunk charcoal. Pile the chunks on top of several wads of newspaper, then light the paper and allow to burn for 15-20 minutes-never use lighter fluid! When coals are lit, push them to one side of the kettle. Drain and sprinkle half the wood chips on the coals. Place a drip pan with 1" of apple cider, beer, ginger ale or water next to the coals. Attach the grate and arrange the pork shoulder on the opposite side from the coals and above the drip pan. Cover with the lid, adjusting so the smoke hole is above the pork. Maintain the heat at about 200°F (you should be able to hold your hand about 2 inches above the grate for 10 seconds without becoming uncomfortable). You'll need to occasionally add more charcoal and wood chips as the fire burns low. This is the only reason to lift the lid! Smoke in this fashion for about 1-1 1/2 hours per pound of meat until internal temperature reaches 165°-170°F. We usually smoke 2 pork shoulders at a time for about 7-8 hours leaving lots of time for preparing side dishes and drinking long-neck Buds.
When the pork is cooked, tear it from the bone for delicious pulled pork. I also like to chop it gently with the back of a chef's knife to break and seperate the threads of meat. Drizzle with sauce, serve with ice-cold slaw and soft, fluffy buns for the true 'cue experience.
Hope you enjoy!