A KC-style sauce


K Kruger

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Rather than Liquid Smoke, common in many KC-style sauces and something of which I am not a fan, I prefer to add ground chipotle and some of the juices from the rested meat for a bit of smokiness.

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly

1 Tbls olive oil

1 Tbls unsalted butter

2 tsp dried thyme

pinch salt

1 slice ginger, about the size of a quarter, skin removed, minced

2 cloves garlic, pressed

pinch ground celery seed

1/3 c pineapple juice

1 c ketchup

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1/2 c apple cider vinegar

2 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

juice of 1 lemon, divided

1 tsp Aleppo pepper

2 tsp ground chipotle pepper

3 Tbls molasses

2 Tbls light brown sugar

2-4 Tbls juices from the rested meat (the juices that pool in the foil wrapping while the meat is resting)

In a medium pot heat the oil and the butter over medium heat till the butter melts and its foam subsides, 2 min or so. Add the onion, toss to coat with the fat, and cook till soft, stirring occasionally, 4-6 min. Add the salt and thyme, stir, and continue to cook till the onions are light-medium brown, about 7-10 min more. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, till very fragrant but not browned, about 45-60 secs. Increase the heat to high and add the pineapple juice, ketchup, canned tomatoes with their juices, vinegar, Worcestershire, and the juice of 1/2 of the lemon. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer by lowering the heat slightly.

Add the Aleppo and chipotle peppers, the molasses, and the brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 min, or until the sugar and molasses have dissolved and the sauce is flavorful and well-blended. Remove from heat, add the juice of the other half of the lemon. Puree in batches in a blender, or by using an immersion stick blender. Return to the pot, off heat. When the meat you've rested is unwrapped from its foil, carefully pour the juices from the foil into a small cup. Whisk 2-4 Tbls (or to taste) into the sauce in 1 Tbls increments, tasting after each addition. Adjust salt if necessary. Heat briefly ,if desired; serve.


on edit: clarified salt
Kevin, you always have a lot to contribute. Before I try it, a few thoughts. It is interesting to hear your comments about licquid smoke. When I last tried my recipe, I tasted the lic. smoke. My comment after my recipe for KC sauce was to cut the lic. smoke 25-50%. Your approach would have to be superior with the fresh meat drippings and smoked peppers. Having read Kirk's book a few times, I have been wondering about canned tomatoes in place of ketchup. Once again you have answered that question. Your approach with those ingredients will produce a fresher, closer to the 'source' taste. Your experience shows!

Now the ginger and pineapple, I find intriguing.
You are one of several who use pineapple. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks for the post.
Once again, Kevin comes thru. I basically mirror everything S. Petrone wrote in his message. It's like getting tips from a master. Thanks!

Originally posted by S Petrone:
I have been wondering about canned tomatoes in place of ketchup...Now the ginger and pineapple, I find intriguing...

I very well might have used canned tomatoes exclusively, but happened to have about a cup of ketchup left in the fridge so I decided to use that up. It worked well I thought, but canned tomatoes alone would have worked well too, though I would have made adjustments to the sugar, vinegar, and spicing had I used them alone. You're right that they produce a fresher taste, so don't cook the sauce too long.

I love ginger. Here it is subtle, a gentle warmth and spice in the background. Pineapple is definitely a favorite. It works so well with barbecued beef, pork, and chicken, brings out the various fruity tastes in chilies and works well with tomatoes. I had some left over, and much of the brisket point from Friday's cook. I did a 'Colorado' sort of thing, posted in Beef Recipes. The pineapple, though a rather small amount really, makes the dish I think. Btw, pineapple vinegar is a great condiment: It's wonderful in mops, sauces, and glazes, or for just drizzling here and there.

Let me know if you make this one.


P.S. Thanks, Rick.
'Master' IS appropriate!
I have a quart or two of sauce...I'll have to do another big cook to get thru my current sauce inventory. I will be trying this next.

Kevin, do you have any comments on how to judge the final taste of the sauce as you are cooking?
It seems like there is a transformation from assembly to simmer to 24 hours in the refer....
I made the sauce this past weekend and it was excellent. One question... is the consistency intended to be thinner than most bottled KC sauces? I enjoyed it just the way it is, but the family wanted more of a thicker, glaze-type sauce (like a KC masterpiece). Is there a way to thicken it up the next time I try it?

Steve-- I'm glad you liked it. Yes, it is meant to be thinner; I like it to 'spread' a bit on the meat and in the mouth to allow the bark and texture of the meat to come through, a personal preference. You can certainly thicken it by further reduction, as Steve Petrone suggests. I'd extend the simmer longer after adding the molasses and brown sugar and before adding the lemon and running it through the blender. How much longer would depend on how thick you ultimately want it to be, a few more minutes will thicken it slightly, many more will thicken it more.

That would be my approach but I'm quite used to looking at the mix of solids and liquids in a pot and knowing what the consistency will be once puréed so, alternatively, return the sauce to the pot after blending and simmer (don't boil) till almost as thick as you want it; it will thicken more as it cools. I'd also withhold and reserve a tablespoon each of the juice from the canned tomatoes and the pineapple juice; further, I'd give the second half of the lemon just a little squeeze, reserving the half. Since the sauce will cook more as it reduces I'd want to retain some of the bright flavors. When I hit the thickness point I was after I'd whisk in the reserved tomato and pineapple juices, simmer another minute, taste, then squeeze in some more lemon, a few drops at a time till it tasted 'right'.

Kevin, do you have any comments on how to judge the final taste of the sauce as you are cooking?
It seems like there is a transformation from assembly to simmer to 24 hours in the refer...
I never noticed this before, Steve, sorry. You ask the best questions.

It depends on the sauce. For instance, for a sauce like this one, or a mole as another example--a sauce where I'm not looking for a single predominant flavor, but looking for a layered blend (if that makes sense), then while I'm cooking I'm keeping in mind the effect the flavors will have on each other and the effect the heat of cooking will have on them individually and collectively. A lot of that comes from experience, as you can imagine, but is not difficult. It's a matter of smell/taste memory. If I'm making a sauce with a more singular flavor (say, a lemon/thyme sauce for chicken breasts, or a radish sauce for grilled fish) the process is only slightly different. In these cases, while mindful of the flavors and heat effect, I'm looking to support the predominant flavor(s) and, possibly, to fill it out a bit more, or provide a counterpoint to set it off. For instance, I might support the lemon by cooking some large pieces of zest with the juice (the oils in the zest will add a lot and when cooked will add a sort of 'bottom' lemon flavor), then strain the zest out, finish my sauce, and restore some of the brightness lost in the cooking process with a squeeze of fresh lemon just before serving. I might use a little horseradish to fill out the muted cooked radish flavor and whisk in some minced dill as a complementary--but still distinctive--counterpoint. I hope I'm making sense here.

You are quite correct about there being a transformation. I don't really think about the refrigerator effect while I make a sauce--I know I can usually restore anything 'lost' later. But I do think about the heat/cooking effect. In my alternative suggestion to Steve above, that is why I suggested reserving a little of the tomato and pineapple juices if reducing the sauce after blending. Those two flavors, I feel, will need a bit of restoration/support after the longer simmer. The reason why I divided the addition of the lemon juice in the original recipe is because the brightness of the lemon will mute substantially during cooking and that is why I suggested adding just a little before the reduction starts and then just a few drops at a time at the finish, tasting till it's right, which in this case--for me--would be just when a few of the lemon's high taste notes are apparent but before it starts to play a chord on its own.
There is such a difference from a between cooking for a hobby and really knowing what you are doing. I think one difference is I am sometimes 'lucky' and pros like you can predictably hit the mark most every time. Jim Minion seems to mention the importance of being able reproduce a winning effort every time in competitive circles. There is also the ability to create, to blend, to match...your experience gives you the ability to reliably do so. Asking questions is easy...knowing the asnwers is gold.
Thanks, Steve D.

Steve Petrone: Fortunately, for both of us, there is often more than one 'answer'. Going to chef school can give you many skills and techniques, just like going to a fine arts school can, were your desire to be a painter. Fortunately again, a dozen tubes of oil paint can be turned into a dozen beautiful works of art, no two the same. The 'art' part of cooking is similar.

In an 'art appreciation' class in college one might learn how to visually dissect scores of paintings to determine the techniques that went into painting them and one may expand one's appreciation and taste merely by being virtually inundated with art. So, too, in cooking. Eating and cooking your way through enough recipes, asking yourself (and others) questions as you go, will advance your skills, appreciation, and
artistry immeasurably; formal schooling not required. I remember cooking my way through most of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking when I was young. I volunteered to cook a dinner party for a large group of French Canadians and Parisian French people, none of whom I knew. I made Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinée, Coq au Vin, and croissants (81 layers!). I really felt I nailed it when I tasted everything; I knew I did from the comments of the guests after dinner. I think it was the high from that success that prompted me to further my cooking skills, and desire, circumstance, luck (and perhaps cojones) that enabled me to parlay those skills into a profession. Funny, but I've never really thought about that till now.

I'm not so sure I'd agree that "[t]here is such a difference from a between cooking for a hobby and really knowing what you are doing" and I rather doubt that luck has had much to do with your successes. It was your talents showing themselves, whether or not you were conscious of that at the time. Though a lot of people go to school first, many of us who are (or were) professionals were hobbyists first. I know several people who are superior cooks who have always cooked as a hobby, never professionally.

True, the ability to create, blend, and match comes from experience. Experience is doing, and doing, and doing (and winging it!)--over time. If you have the desire and enthusiasm the time pretty much takes care of itself. Asking questions might be easy but therein lies the seeds of further experience. And that you ask questions is one thing (a good one), what you ask makes it apparent that you're well on your way to becoming a damn fine cook.
Tangy, a little sweet and some fire in the end.
I am looking forward to this aging a day or two and trying with some PP. V. good.

At one point I had given up on sauces made with fresh onions. I always came up with a sauce that just didnt smell very good. I have learned so much from you on here, I just had to give this one a try. Great sauce Kevin! I will play with it some to adjust it "or make a big mess". I like to call that , "making it my own".

I have been looking for a good brisket sauce, this may be it .

Thanks Kevin,

I glad you liked it, Rick. Definitely 'make a big mess' and tweak away.

One thing I've been doing a lot lately: If I'm a doing brisket I also grab an oxtail out of the freezer and rub that the same way as the brisket. (If I'm doing ribs I trim off the end to yield a small piece of meat that incudes one bone and rub it the same way as the ribs.) I smoke the oxtail or rib end at the same time but on the lower grate where I can grab it easily through the access door, and pull it at around 2 hours or so. I put this piece into the sauce at whatever simmer stage; if there is a simmer, puree, return to simmer flow for whatever sauce I'm making I'll put it in at the first stage, pull it, puree, and return in to the pot. I like the added touch of smoke and flavors from the bark, meat, and bone that get added to the sauce. Give it a shot and see what you think.
hello. This looks a great sauce - but a problem here in the UK.

What are Alleppo pepper and Chilpotle pepper??!!

Kevin - your advice on this site is great. What a bonus having professionals on tap!

Thanks, andrew. I try to help where I can.

Aleppo pepper is a crushed red Turkish pepper with some heat and a great fruity taste. I use it often in sauces and sprinkled on food. If you have a local 'exotic' spice store they might have it. If not, it's available in the UK through this link to the Spice Shop. You want the red (ripe) version.

Chipotles are peppers, most often jalapeños, that have been smoked while drying. They have heat and a deep smoky flavor. They're most often associated with Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. They're available whole, flaked, ground, and canned in a sauce. This recipe uses ground. They're also available at the Spice Shop at this link. Click on 'Chillies" then scroll down to Chipotle powder. While you're on that page you might be interested in Ancho powder as well as New Mexican chilli powder.
Kevin - thanks so much for that! You have been a great help to a newcomer to the WSM and I DO appreciate it. Thanks

This is a sauce that Kevin steered me to, to help me out when I had a huge computer crash and needed a recipe or two to serve to a large group that I had to cook for.

I made this sauce again about a week ago and used it tonight to serve alongside some leftover ribs from the freezer. This sauce needs some standing time. It was even better after refrigerating this long and I almost had to call 911 to revive the swooners.

I must try Kevin's Pineapple-Tamarind Rib Sauce next.

This sauce made me look really good. Thanks, Kevin!