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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the week: Ronnie's Rich, Deeply Satisfying Dipping Sauce

Jul 8, 2010

Ronnie’s Rich, Deeply Satisfying Dipping Sauce

(With acknowledgments to the Baron of Barbecue, Paul Kirk)

Makes about 6 cups | 1.5 L

Any student of barbecue has to bow in the direction of Kansas City once in a while, and Paul Kirk is one of the world’s greatest barbecue cooks and also perhaps its best-known ambassador. Paul has taught thousands of cooks the essentials of barbecue, and this rich, sweet, tangy sauce is based on his Kansas City classic.


2 Tbsp | 25 mL powdered ancho, poblano or New Mexico chiles

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground black pepper

1 Tbsp | 15 mL dry mustard

1 tsp | 5 mL ground coriander

1 tsp | 5 mL ground allspice

1/4 tsp | 1 mL ground cloves

1/2 tsp | 2 mL grated nutmeg

up to 1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne, according to your taste

1/4 cup | 50 mL neutral-flavored oil, such as canola

1 onion, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, minced

1/2 cup | 125 mL tightly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup | 250 mL white vinegar

1/2 cup | 125 mL clover honey

1/4 cup | 50 mL Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

or a combination

1 tsp | 5 mL liquid smoke or hickory smoked salt (optional)

1 32 oz. | 1-L keg ketchup

Mix all the spices together and set the mixture aside. Heat the oil in a big pot over medium heat and gently sauté the onion, garlic, and shallot until tender. Add the spices and mix the ingredients together thoroughly, cooking the mixture for 2 or 3 minutes to bring out their flavors.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring often (be careful, it spatters). Don’t cook it too long or it will start to caramelize and you’ll have spicy fudge. If you want a very smooth sauce, blend it with a hand blender or food processor. Refrigerate it or preserve it as you would a jam or jelly in mason jars. Use the sauce as a glaze or dip for barbecued meats, as a flavoring sauce in fajitas, or mix it half-and-half with mayo for a fabulous dip for French fries.

            Note: This thick sauce is designed for dipping. If you want to use it as a basting sauce or a glaze, thin it with water, apple juice, or Jack Daniel’s to suit your taste and the task at hand.

Barbecue Secret

Use sauce sparingly when grilling, planking, or barbecuing meat. In competition we use it only as a finishing glaze. If you baste meat with a sugary sauce more than an hour before you take it off the smoker or more than a few minutes before removing it from the grill, it will turn black when the sugar caramelizes from the heat. Also use sauce sparingly when you serve, offering it to guests on the side. Too much sauce and you lose the barbecue flavor you’ve worked so hard to achieve!