Well it's that time of year again, the grills are out and people are perfecting their BBQ recipes. Well, at least that's the case in my home town. We have a friendly neighborhood rib cooking competition in the middle of August, and it's just a fun time for the men to strut their stuff. Anyways, my family competes every year and we have fun. I like it because I'm part of the testing and I get to try ribs and different sauces.
If you don't know, a big part of a successful wet rib recipe is thick sauce that sticks to the ribs. If your sauce is to thin, it falls off the rib and doesn't form a nice caramelized "shell" if you will. Unfortunately many sauces come thin and will fall off the ribs. Here's a good rule of thumb, if you can dip something in it and it doesn't hold it's form for 30 seconds, it's to thin. Most sauces are the consistency of ketchup, and that's to thin. My dad made a sauce from a bunch of different ingredients (won't spoil the secret guys, sorry), and it was the consistency of soup. I couldn't even put it on french fries without falling off. So what I needed to do was make it thinner. How did I do that?
Well here's what I did, I boiled it. I read some recipes online and they said "mix in 4 parts sauce, 3 parts water, and 1 part flour" and stuff like that. Well I didn't want to add even more water to the mix, it was already watery enough. I've used flour as a thickener before, but for things like gravy and brownie batter. I wasn't sure about using flour in BBQ sauce though, so I decided I was going to just boil it. Here's what I did:
1. Pour all the soup sauce into a small sauce pan and set on a small burner. If you have a rather large amount of sauce, use a big sauce pan and a big burner.
2. Turn it on low to medium heat. This isn't so much about not burning the sauce, but to prevent spatters. I initially had the heat set to high, and I need to clean my stove top now. Luckily I have one of those "solid plexiglass" like stoves where I don't have to like get under the burner or anything. Even with one of those "mesh splatter guards" I still made a mess. You might be fine with high heat at the beginning to get the sauce to a higher temperature, but don't do it to long after that, otherwise, splatter's everywhere.
3. Pack your patients. Yeah, this takes a LONG time. It depends on how thick the sauce is and how much sauce you have, but mine took about an hour and a half of constant heat to boil away all the excess water, and that's considering that I had it set to high heat for about the first half of the time. If you have soup sauce like me, you're probably looking at over 2 hours of boiling. If you have normal store bought sauce, you might be looking at 30-45 minutes based on how much you have and how thick it is.
4. Stir constantly. As with anything you're cooking on a stove top, you need to stir it almost constantly otherwise parts along the sides of the pan will burn and that which is on the inside will remain uncooked. Here, you'll overcook the sauce and the parts along the end caramelize and it won't turn out well.
So what happened after boiling this soup-sauce for 1.5 hours? Well, now I now have super thick sauce, and it's amazing. The sauce wasn't the best tasting before, but now it tastes amazing. That's because the parts that would stick were missing the parts that would just fall off. Some of the flavors were amplified with the water, some were dulled by the water. After boiling away half the mass of this sauce, the flavors work perfectly, and it sticks to anything.
Oh yeah, one last bit of warning, the point is to boil away the water, so and the water has to go somewhere. That means lots of steam depending on how thick and how much sauce you have. As I said, I boiled away half the mass of the stuff. It filled my bowl before, now it fills half it. Make sure you turn your kitchen fan on, otherwise you will get super steamed.
Well thank-you for reading. I'm not a professional chef, but I do know my sauces and a fair amount of science. This has been Pokematic signing off, and bu-bye.