Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The best BBQ sauce ever!

I recently discovered pork spare ribs and fell in love. Not only are they an eminently reasonable $3.50/lb from my special supplier (ha ha), but they require no grill or special equipment, can be on the table in 15 minutes, and are enjoyed by everyone in our family, Oliver included. Making the BBQ sauce requires a little time and effort (and may be a bit of an expense to get all the required seasonings on hand), but once you make it, you can enjoy many dinners from this one batch. Feel free to double or even triple the recipe! And of course, once you invest in all the necessary spices you will have enough to last you ages and many many batches of this delicious sauce.

I snagged this recipe from the Food Network, and tweaked it a little, mainly substituting natural sweeteners for all the brown sugar. It came out SUPER (actually, it's vaguely redolent of those naughty BBQ potato chips we all secretly love).

BBQ Sauce

3 T unrefined sea salt (NOT table salt!)
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 t jalapeno seasoning (I use extra chili powder for this)
1/2 t Old Bay seasoning
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t onion powder
2 T garlic powder
2 T lard (or bacon fat)
1/2 cup white wine *NOTE: recipe updated 1/2/11. See comments below.*
2 T vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
3 T honey (I recommend raw)
7 T maple syrup (I recommend grade B, organic)
1 T molasses (I recommend Blackstrap)
*NOTE: do not cut down on the amount of sweeteners or the balance will be off. If necessary you can use all honey in place of the maple syrup and molasses.*

Combine all and reduce over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Pour into a jar or small pitcher and store in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. If you store it in an oven-proof pitcher like I do, you can stick the pitcher in the oven for a few minutes while the ribs are cooking to soften it, then use what you need and refrigerate the rest; repeat indefinitely.

This will refrigerate well and get your family through many meals of ribs! To cook spare ribs, simply place ribs on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness.

You may turn them over once during cooking if you like. Remove from oven, slather with BBQ sauce, and cut ribs apart. Get ready for a succulent and delicious taste experience! Serve with cornbread and greens, or with sweet potato fries, or even just a simple acorn squash, cut open, cooked in a glass baking dish face down (in 1-1.5" water), and filled with butter.

Make sure your pork spare ribs are sourced from a small local family farm. Contact me if you would like information about sourcing in NYC. **NOTE: PLEASE AVOID USING BEEF SHORT RIBS FOR THIS RECIPE! They need to be cooked a very long time, and I cannot speak for the suitability of this sauce for short ribs cooked that way. Go for the pork spare ribs.


  1. Hi Hannah,

    I made the BBQ sauce tonight. I was REALLY looking forward to it. It didn't come out well. I kinda wonder if you wrote down the recipe right. It was really too salty and vinegar-y. I did it exactly as you mention except didn't use any white wine...and wonder if this would have helped dilute it. Did it really call for 3 TABLESPOONS of salt? Please help. We couldn't really put any of it on our ribs. Also, should I just throw away what I have or is it salvageable? by maybe adding the white wine? Sorry to post this...but I honestly want to have the amazing BBQ sauce you rave of!


  2. Hmmm...

    Actually, I am not sure now why I wrote down that the wine was optional. I think I made it without wine once, but it was quite a while ago and I can't remember if I did something else differently.

    The way I currently make it (for customers and for us) is with 1/2 cup white wine, and everything else the same as listed above. It really does have a LOT of salt (so make sure yours is good quality, unrefined! DON'T use table salt), and yes it has 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Do not skip the lard and be sure you are using the full amount of sweeteners (I think it's 10 tablespoons or so in all). I would toss out what you have left over and give it another try. Throw everything in the pot together, and mix it up while bringing to a gentle simmer.

    Let me know how it turns out!

  3. So, I tried the BBQ sauce again tonight. Thanks so much for confirming that it was fine to use ancho chili powder where the recipe calls for chili powder and raw apple cider vinegar where the recipe calls for vinegar. So yummy and lots left over. Still haven't tried the pork spare ribs, they are next. 1st time we put on Louis style beef ribs and tonight we put it on pork baby back ribs. DELISH! Now, any other ideas of what I can put this homemade BBQ sauce on? Thanks for posting :)