July 23, 2010
Welcome back to the kitchen! We are in the heat of summer, and more and more fruits and vegetables are ripening. Our local farmers markets are overflowing with great choices. In fact, this might be a good time of year to leave the stove behind and have a raw veggies riverside picnic with salads, pestos, and cheese.
Or you could avoid heating up your house by doing all your cooking outside on the BBQ grill. This is a classic American past-time, and a great way to get amazing flavors without too much effort or cleanup. So, I’m going to opt for the latter option and give some grilling ideas and sides for the BBQ enthusiast. So grab some coals or a fresh tank of propane and let’s get cookin’!
Now, when it comes to grilling meat on the BBQ, there are many differing and passionate opinions. But really it all comes down to using good meat, high quality spice rubs, and a consistent cooking temperature. Everything beyond that is pretty much just semantics.
I’m sure you have some of your own favorite BBQ recipes, and far be it from me to steer you away from those. So instead of discussing the merits of various steaks, marinades, or rubs, I wanted to instead inspire you with a sweet and spicy home made BBQ sauce made with cherries, cherry cola, hot sauce, and a little cilantro for a unique flavor.
There are many wonderful BBQ sauces out there, but few if any bottled offerings can compete with home-made. I found a cherry cola sauce recipe online and modified it a bit to suit my taste. Please note that this recipe calls for American-style chili sauce, which is basically just glorified catsup. You can substitute regular old ketchup, or you can go somewhat higher end by using tomato puree or paste and even some fresh tomatoes. You will just have to compensate with a little more spicing.
And I know that cherry cola may seem like an odd ingredient on first blush, but it will add a wonder sweetness to the sauce to play off the tangy and spicy elements. Actually, cola has a long tradition in the BBQ world. Many grill masters swear they get the tenderest ribs by marinating them overnight in a bath of cola, which tenderized the meat and adds a sweetness as well. Think about trying the cola trick next time you want to throw a rack of ribs on the grill.
Anyway, please feel free to play with this BBQ sauce recipe to your hearts content, because there is really no wrong way to do this. Mine come out a little different every time. I like to make a big batch of sauce and keep it bottled in the fridge. So make a double or triple batch and BBQ all season long! So, for this Sweet/Spicy Cherry Pepsi BBQ Sauce we’ll need:
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 2 cups finely chopped onions
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon lime zest, or use lemon, orange, or other citrus
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use smoke flavoring)
• 2 12-ounce bottles (American-style) chili sauce, or ketchup
• 1 12-ounce jar cherry preserves, or this time of year please skip the preserves and use about 12 ounces of fresh pitted cherries reduced over a medium low heat for 20 minutes with 1/3 cup sugar. You may be able to get away with just using fresh chopped cherries; there is lots of sugar throughout the rest of our recipe.
• 1 cup Cherry Pepsi or Cherry Dr. Pepper
• 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (you can use less to taste, so add this a few spoonfuls at a time)
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or use apple cider or other vinegar
• 1 teaspoon (or more, lots more if you’re like me!) hot pepper sauce
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Stir in chili sauce, cherries or preserves, Cherry Pepsi, brown sugar, spices, zest, and vinegar; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until reduced to 4 cups, stirring often for about 50 minutes. The trick here is to get the BBQ sauce to thick and cook down, without scorching the bottom. So you’ll probably have to stir it very frequently. You could also employ a double boiler technique.
Stir in 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more hot pepper sauce, if desired. Transfer to bowl and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made 2 weeks ahead.
So there is one of my new favorites in home made BBQ sauce. It goes really well on wine or soy sauce marinated beef kabobs with grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms. I also love this sauce on grilled chicken, or in a cold BBQ chicken salad sandwich with celery, green onions, more fresh cherries and a little mayo. Yum!
Remember: sweet sauce like this are for adding at the very end of the cooking process, to simply serving with the finished meat. Because it has a fair amount of sugar in it, the sauce will scorch quickly if you cook it for long on a hot grill. So instead, just grill your chicken or beef with simple seasonings, and then add this delicious, tangy sauce as a last step.
So, with our cherry BBQ sauce complete, I think I’m going to rub a flank steak with crushed garlic, parsley, salt, cracked black pepper, and a little olive oil and grill it for about 6 minutes per side. Always let grilled meat rest before cutting into it. Serve with some grilled corn on the cob and a simple greens salad and we are in business with a delicious, seasonal recipe.
Nice work everyone! I’d love to hear what you are grilling, or anything else that inspires your palate. Send me any questions or comments to Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.