Whether you want to create a sweet and savory sauce like the well-known Kansas City style sauce, Sweet Baby Rays, a Carolina mustard-based sauce or an Alabama mayonnaise-based sauce, it's all about layering the flavors. Start with a base of tomato (ketchup) or mustard. Then you will need to add an acid of some sort, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Finally, consider ingredients that add an aromatic component like cumin, chili, and garlic for delicious flavor.
2. The Essential Fresh Ingredient: Cracked Black Pepper
People will often tell you to grind all of your spices, fresh. My recommendation is to stay away from any ingredients that have aged from sitting on the shelf too long. There is no substitute for fresh cracked black pepper. This is an essential element of all my BBQ sauces and rubs.
3. Mise en Place: (French) Everything in its place
To avoid mishaps in the sauce recipe, be sure to measure everything before you start cooking so you can stay organized. Add the wet ingredients first, then add the dry ingredients. Everything will mix together better.
4. Include Rub Ingredients into the Sauce
I apply the rub directly onto the meat. Then I add some of the rub into the sauce, so the same flavor profiles are present throughout the BBQ. It's all about building layers of flavor into your food.
5. Don't Burn the Sugar
Use pots with a thick gauge. Thinner-gauge pots hold heat unevenly and bottoms could dent or warp. You do not want your sugar to scorch. Invest in a heavy-gauge pan to deliver heat more evenly. Keep the heat low and bring to boil and let the sauce simmer for 45 minutes.
6. Let the Sauce Flavors Meld Together
Ideally, the sauce should cool for a full 24 hours. This allows all the delicious seasoning and flavors to meld together overnight for a savory result.
7. Thin Down the Sauce
Sometimes I like to thin down my sauce with a little water or apple juice before coating the meat. The thinner sauce helps create a nice even coating on the meat. The sauce should not be so heavy that it overpowers the meat's natural good flavor.
8. Dress Up Your Sauce For BBQ Competition
It is known in the competition circle to create a sauce/glaze that gives your BBQ some shine and sparkle for the judges. Doctor your sauce by adding honey or agave syrup to create a shiny glaze. I've created a new product that I call DQ Glaze. This is what I use in competitions as a finishing glaze, and it looks and tastes fantastic.
Duce Raymond, is a leader in the food hospitality business, and is a BBQ competitor with the KCBS Barbecue Competition.