My cousin-in-law, Rick Bzdafka, frequently cooks for the large crowd spending holidays at our family’s farm. A very talented cook and the soul of affability, Mr. Rick always whips up two separate batches of his barbecue sauce, mild and very spicy. (Note the variations.) Whatever your preference, you’ll find that this versatile sauce is equally delicious on grilled chicken, ribs (See Slow-Roasted Spiced Baby Back Ribs, Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, page 96), as well as your favorite barbecued meats. It’ll keep for a month in the fridge and for several months in the freezer.
Makes about 1 quart
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 3 onions, to taste, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3 cups ketchup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, and pepper flakes. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and mustard. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir often to prevent scorching. Pour in the ketchup; add 2 cups cold water, and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until thick, pulpy, and dark red, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Variations: Add 1 seeded, deveined, and finely diced habanero pepper to the sauce as it is cooling. Substitute maple syrup for one of the sugars. Finish with chopped fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme.