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 V.14 No.19 | May 12 - 18, 2005 

Bite

The Mother of Invention

Here's a quick and dirty barbecue sauce recipe that just goes to prove necessity really is the mother of invention. During a late summer camping trip on Fire Island National Seashore, I realized we had forgotten a whole cooler of supplies back on the ferry dock on Long Island. Aside from swimming back in the dark choppy ocean, there was no way to get to the mainland until the next day. We needed a sauce for the chicken and ribs we brought along for dinner that night, so we made one with what we had. Here is what we came up with. We called it superior barbecue sauce. It's simple, but tasty.

Superior Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup very strong coffee

2 cups Worcestershire sauce

5 cups tomato ketchup (don't scrimp use the good thick kind--no generics please)

1 tablespoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon black pepper (or to taste)

Instructions:

Simply combine all of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

When I'm back in civilization, I often add a few ingredients to this recipe to kick it up a notch or three. You can try using brown sugar instead of white sugar, which adds a more intense caramel-like quality. The addition of a quarter-cup of dark molasses will make for a more complex sweetness. A few hits of your favorite hot sauce will spice it up a bit (Sriracha hot chili sauce works well). Eight cloves of minced garlic will give it an earthy quality and one large onion finely diced couldn't hurt. If you're looking for a smoky flavor you can use some chipotle chiles in adobo sauce that have been puréed or you can add a few tablespoons of liquid smoke.

Be sure not to put the sauce on the meats you're grilling too soon. It will just get burned and dried out.

This recipe yields 8 cups (depending on how carried away you get with additions and corrections). You can keep this sauce for several months in the refrigerator.

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