Grilling season is upon us so it’s time to stock some favorite bbq condiments. Certainly there are the typical standbys like ketchup, A1, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce – all straight from the supermarket shelves -- but making a grill sauce yourself can up your bbq game.
If you were to read the ingredient list of a typical supermarket grill condiment you’ll often see the following ingredients.
Sweet component in a grill sauce is essential. I’m emphasizing the “s” in sugars because sweetness can come from different sources like white table sugar, high fructose sugar (HFS) which is corn based. They’re highly refined and too much of it is not good for the waistline or your teeth. Other sugars include brown sugar, and cane sugar, which are essentially the same as the aforementioned. Some better sources of sweetness include local honey, first-run maple syrup and/or agave. They are better choices since they still have some nutritional content or at least they are less bad for you. The most natural and ideal source of sugar is from fresh fruit – think of freshly squeezed oranges and pureed pineapple as sweeteners in your condiments. Also dried versions of fruits such as unsulphered raisins are a good choice. Not only do the sugars taste delicious, they also have a fair amount of vitamins. Sugars give sauces texture and, when heated, they make the sauce stick to the meat, which creates lip-smacking, finger-licking deliciousness.
Generally, you'll find most likley a high level of sodium in commercial grill smothering and if you’re into having your hands swell up because of that sodium that’s ok … I suppose! A trick for lowering sodium content in your homemade sauce is adding an acidic component such as tomato paste, vinegar or yogurt a la tandoori. By introducing acidity, you will require less salt in your bbq sauce. The acidic zing you’ll realize from a sauce made with vinegar will give your palate a similar flavor sensation as salt does. Also, acidity tends to naturally tenderize meat on a molecular structure since it weakens the cell structure. That means you may benefit by marinating your rather tough cuts such as flank steak, shoulder steaks, hanger steaks and faux-steaks from less desirable cuts, with that sauce before they go on the grill – a two hour marinating time makes a difference. Speaking of tenderizing, another trick, which works perfectly, is to add fresh pureed papaya or pineapple to your bbq sauce recipe. These fruit enzymes tenderize meats significantly after a 1-2 hour marinating time, creating a tender, almost buttery consistency.
Spices & Herbs
Spices such as black cracked pepper, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds add interesting notes to your sauce and will send aromas into the air during cooking, which will make your guests salivate as they await their bbq. Similarly rosemary, thyme, parsley and tarragon will bedazzle the senses and makes a noticeable, tasty addition.
½ cup yogurt
¼ fresh pineapple
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or black cracked pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed with a heavy object such as a small saucepot
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons honey ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1. In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix with a whisk.
Chef’s Note: The bbq sauce can be applied to poultry, fish and meat and even vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini. Make sure you marinate tough meat cuts for at least two hours. Welcome summer!