Homemade Bacon and Beer Barbecue Sauce
Is it too early to start talking barbecue sauce? I hope not. Usually lumped in with a list of summer food favorites, I love barbecue sauce so much that I like to stretch out its season, usually kicking off the season when you can start watching baseball on TV again. Often an underrated condiment, cast aside only for use with chicken and ribs, there's so much more that this little sauce can do. For example, have you ever had a burger topped with barbecue sauce? Not too far of an outlandish idea but I'm always amazed at how many people miss out on that one. And then of course, there's barbecue pizza (a perfect summer staple) or sometimes I like to hide a little smear of barbecue in a good old fashioned turkey sandwich. With some melted smoked Gouda or even a nice sharp cheddar, it's game on.
When making this sauce, improvising is key and because of that, it can be manipulated and changed according to your tastes and what you have on hand. This sauce has all the basic components of barbecue sauce (ketchup, molasses, mustard and vinegar) but I also added a nice smoky element so I ground up a piece of bacon which helped bring forward a nice smokiness as well as provided a little boost of salt too. I was also out of Dijon mustard so I opted for plain-jane yellow mustard, which worked quite nicely, providing a nice sharp tang.
At the end of adding this and that and tasting to season, I let it all bubble and heat through until all of the flavors formed a thick and solid sauce. It was sweet and smoky and the type of sauce that really clings to meat or whatever other kind of delicious use for it that you can dream up. To make things more interesting, you could also add your own touch by making this spicy (add a couple TBS of chipotle sauce, Sriracha, or even crushed red pepper flakes) or you can sweeten it further by adding honey. Sky's the limit, get a little creative. Why not, right?
Bacon and Beer Barbecue Sauce
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 TBS vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup light beer
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 TBS molasses
- 2 TBS brown sugar
- 1 TBS tomato paste
- 2 TBS yellow mustard
- 2 pieces smoked bacon, crumbed
- Salt and Pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and add the diced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for a couple minutes on medium high heat until the onions soften and become translucent. Add the ketchup, beer, mustard, molasses, brown sugar, bay leaf and tomato paste. Stir well to combine. Bring the sauce to a slow simmer, cover and let it simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the vinegar has sweetened. Add the bacon crumbles and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until it is relatively smooth. You can take this a step further by running the sauce through a fine mesh strainer but I personally liked the little chunks of bacon.
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