With enough whiskey, barbecue sauces aren't "Memphis" or "Tennessee" style, they're "whiskey" style. I'm not sure where to draw the line, but when you've got as much whiskey as tomato, you're well over it. People may call it "Tennessee" but they're really saying "Jack Daniels."
There are a bunch of regional "styles" for tomato based barbecue sauces. How meaningful are the differences? Not terribly; because there's so much variation from cook to cook.
But if you tried to put some meaning into it, you'd say that the regional differences in tomato based sauces lie in their balance of sweet and sour, and in the amount and type of heat. Memphis style sauces are more vinegar, less tomato and almost as sweet as KC; not as sweet as Georgia style. On the other hand, their balance is decidedly less vinegar, less sweet, less heat and more tomato than Carolina sauces. As with most regional styles, the "tomato" is usually provided in the form of ketchup -- which not only brings a well-cooked tomato flavor but a lot of smoked clove as well as a bunch of other spices.
Still, the key to making your own regionally representative barbecue sauce or barbecue rubs is balance. You can skew it to one side or another, but you usually can't tip it over and still get good results.
I've got a few tomato based barbecue sauces in my repertoire which either balance in different ways or bring along certain ingredients which I think are pleasing. As it happens, you could pass my "basic" barbecue sauce off for "Memphis style" because of the relative amounts of vinegar to tomato, and because its sweet enough to satisfy without being sweet enough to cloy. However, because its got some stuff going in it which isn't particularly Memphis or regional at all -- just stuff that makes for a better rounded, more pleasing sauce. It's the recipe I'm going to adapt for you to make use of your ingredients.
BASIC BARBECUE SAUCE - MEMPHIS STYLE
Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/8/13 at 10:53am
• 1 medium onion
• 1/2 bell pepper
• 3 cloves garlic
• 2 chipotle peppers (from a can of chipotles en adobo)
• 1 tbs corn oil (or other neutral flavored oil, bacon fat or lard)
• 4 tbs cold butter, divided
• 2 tbs adobo (from the same can of chipotles en adobo)
• 2 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 tbs smoked paprika
• 1 tsp dry mustard (or 1/4 cup prepared, yellow mustard)
• 1/4 cup Bourbon whiskey (or use rum or cognac)
• 1 cup roasted chicken stock (or use beef stock, or 1/2 cup each beef and chicken stock)
• 3 cups ketchup
• 1-1/2 cup cider vinegar (or, 1 cup vinegar + 1/2 cup lemon juice)
• 1 cup molasses
• 1/2 cup honey (or white sugar, "Sugar In The Raw," etc.)
• 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1 double shot, brewed espresso coffee (or use 1 tsp instant coffee crystals)
• 1 tsp to 1 tbs fresh, coarse-ground black pepper
• Liquid smoke (optional), to taste
• Tabasco or other brand Chipotle sauce (optional), to taste
• Agave nectar (optional), to taste
Chop the onion, bell pepper to fine dice. Mince the garlic and chipotle very fine.
Preheat a sauce pan to saute temp.
Add the oil to the pan, and when that’s hot, add 2 tbs butter. Swirl the pan. Do not allow the butter to burn. Remove it from the heat for a moment or two if necessary. The butter will foam as it melts. When the foam begins to subside add the chopped onions and peppers.
Saute, stirring as necessary, until the onion and pepper soften.
Add the chipotle and garlic. Saute, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the adobo, red pepper flakes, paprika, and mustard (if using dry mustard). Cook a bit longer to get the “raw” is off the paprika – no more than a couple of minutes.
Deglaze the pan with whiskey (or other spirits). Bring to the boil. You may flame it off if you like.
Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes, uncovered to cook the alcohol off and allow the flavors to begin to marry. Taste and adjust for salt if necessary.
Add while whisking, the ketchup, vinegar, molasses, honey, Worcestershire, mustard (if using prepared mustard), and coffee until everything is well combined. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, whisking gently.
Reduce to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes, whisking occasionally. Taste for sweet/sour balance. To increase the sour, add more vinegar (duh); to increase sweetness you may add molasses, honey or white sugar as desired. Quantities are “to taste.” Remember that you’re not fixing the levels for the final sauce, but only adjusting the balance.
Add the black pepper in an amount so that it is just barely visible in the sauce, but not too peppery for your own tastes.
Reduce the sauce at a simmer until it is just a bit thinner than your desired consistency (probably an additional forty minutes), stirring occasionally.
If you want to use liquid smoke, add it. Most liquid smoke brands (Wright’s, for instance) are extremely concentrated. Easy does it. Add it a few drops at a time. Taste, then taste again before adding more.
Taste and adjust for salt, “heat,” vinegar, sweet. Add salt, Chipotle hot sauce, vinegar, honey (or agave nectar) to taste. Be conservative when adding additional hot sauce, people who like a lot of heat are fully capable of adding hot sauce at the table. Honey and agave are better choices to add sweetness than molasses or sugar at this stage because their flavors mature so much quicker.
Simmer for as long as necessary to allow the flavors to completely marry and for the sauce to reach its final, desired consistency, about ten minutes more.
There are several ways to finish the sauce depending on the desired texture. You can leave it as is, and “chunky;” you can strain out the aromatic veg (they’ve already surrendered their flavor); or you can “blitz” the sauce with a stick or regular blender. One way isn’t better than another, it’s strictly “to taste.”
When you've done whatever it is you're going to do, return the sauce to the pan and to a simmer. Cut the remaining two tbs butter into four pieces, and whisk them one by one into the sauce.
Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.