Posts Tagged ‘barbecue sauce’

This White’s Alright

The White Stuff

Around this time last year I vaguely recall coming across Annemarie Conte’s glowing description of something called white barbecue sauce over on The NY Times Diner’s Journal that apparently “transforms chicken”.

I am nothing if not an equal opportunity barbecue fanatic, so at the time I eagerly filed it away under the yummy recipes bookmark folder I keep, and then proceeded to forget all about it for the next 9 months.

On Thursday morning, I was trying to decide what I wanted the Everyman to make for our weekly dinner ritual (having already mentioned the possibility of chicken when he asked me the day before) and for whatever reason, I woke up thinking about this white barbecue sauce.  I don’t know why; honestly, I hadn’t given the recipe even a passing thought since I read it last year, but all of a sudden, only the promise of white barbecued chicken would do.  I floated the idea by the Everyman and he seemed game, so I went about retrieving the recipe.

Of course, oddly enough when I went back to the bookmark, the see additional recipe section (which contained the actual white barbecue sauce recipe) was inexplicably missing.  The only recipe I had was for the brine the chicken soaks in, while the hyperlinks to the barbecue sauce recipe had completely disappeared.  Immediately, my heart sank.  After nearly half an hour dejectedly sifting through Google, I finally came across a cached version of the recipe, followed by the discovery of several other variations on the theme.  It was then that I learned that white barbecue is a regional style characteristic of Alabama, one that is distinctly different from the ketchup, mustard or vinegar-based barbecue sauces that people are generally more familiar with from regions of their own around the south.  Sensing that there was no one true recipe, I decided to amalgamate several recipes that looked good into one and hope for the best once it was all done.

That night, the Everyman soaked a package of meaty chicken legs in Conte’s suggested brine, while I offered to tinker with the sauce.  After a few additions and taste tests, I arrived at a white sauce that was rich, tangy, creamy and fairly spicy that was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before.  At that point I knew we were on to something.  After our meat had marinated a bit, the Everyman threw the brined legs on the barbecue and cooked them until they achieved a nicely crisped and crackled crust.  Pulling the chicken legs off the heat, I immediately dunked them into the white sauce and went in for the taste test.

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Condimentality

Front Row: Grainy Mustard And Red Onion, Back Row: Barbecue Sauce And Lemon Pickle (The Difference Is Indistinguishable)

The culinary hiatus I’ve been on has not only been a boon for clearing my head and reinvigorating my desire to cook, but also a wellspring of inspiration.

In the past, my condiment focus has been primarily on jams or the occasional gherkin pickle, but this last week of photograzing and foodgawking has inspired me to broaden my topping horizons.  Ever since I bought Small Batch Preserving several years ago, I’ve yearned to try some of the more exotic preserves, relishes and sauces hidden within it’s food-stained pages, but I’ve been too busy cooking the things I regularly need to properly experiment with anything new.  Until now…

Our last meal at The Black Hoof encouraged me to give mustard a second chance, and this weekend I finally decided, why not?  Two of my favourite things (which means little considering everything I’ve tried on their menu instantly becomes a favorite) are the mustard seed crusted horse bresaola and the grainy mustard served with lamb headcheese.  After the Everyman and I both raved about the delicacy of that mustard (and accompanying headcheese), it became apparent that I needed to pump out some crunchy piquancy of my own.  A recipe I found on Saveur provided a decent base, but as always, I had to make changes.  The biggest difference was that I did not have the requisite Guinness, so I subbed in another stout (that the Everyman assured me would be similar enough) called Sinha, from Sri Lanka.  Swirling the whole thing together like a strange, lentil-coloured slurry, the concoction still wasn’t so much appealing as it was vaguely intriguing.  I wondered what effect the beer would have on the flavour, having recently fallen in love with a plate of homemade dark chocolate Guinness cupcakes, even though I despise beer.  I still haven’t warmed up to that Guinness cheddar the Everyman’s always raving about, but that’s an entirely different story altogether.  After a few days of soaking on a sunny counter to soften the seeds and meld the flavours, I’ll be able to see what this mustard business is all about.  The first taste is already earmarked for a roasted chunk of pork belly, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

Never content to do things in anything resembling a reasonable quantity, I didn’t stop at one condiment; oh no, not I.  I had to be the maniacal, greedy, overachieving condiment queen who turned out 4 separate items on a Saturday afternoon.  After the mustard was bedded down and tucked in to a bowl sheathed in plastic, I turned my attention to the next item, a basil balsamic barbecue sauce.  The culinary voice prodding me to make this sauce also happened to be that wily piece of pork belly I’d been planning to roast for dinner.  I initially hadn’t realized that the mustard was a multi-day process, and assumed it would be ready for me to use by dinner.  Being that wasn’t the case, I needed a backup plan; which is where this barbecue sauce came in.  After simmering it on the stove for about 20 minutes, a small dip confirmed that I’d never had anything quite like it.  It was tangy and tart, a little astringent, but with a sweet note and a nice, floral basil finish.  I knew then that this would make a killer glaze for the pork during the last half hour of roasting, adhering to it like a deep, burnished lacquer.  Though happy with the end result, I still felt unsatisfied.  There had to be more for me to tinker with than this.

Which is how I ended up pickling red onions slivers, one of the most beautiful vegetables to work with.  The opalescent amethyst rings glittered when the sun hit the canning jar, waiting for their swim in the briny, vinegar bath.  The blue-green-grey of the rosemary fronds provided a lovely sprinkling of vivid contrast.  An error in calculation meant that I had twice as much vinegar as I needed, and no good reason to make more, but the realization did not occur until after I’d already packed and sealed my jar.  In a few days I imagine I’m going to have some mighty strong pickled onions that will most likely require a slight dilution.  What they’ll be destined for, I’m not entirely sure, but they might not be bad with that aforementioned pork belly – after all, those sweet and sour pickled shallots sung with the pork belly I made on Valentine’s Day.

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