From Dry Rub to BBQ Sauce

I really love the dry rub I have been using, borrowed from Chowhound and only slightly varied. It’s salty and spicy and just a little sweet—it’s everything I want in a BBQ sauce, without the vinegar/tomato/molasses base. I have bad reactions to that base; anything with strong vinegar or tomato makes my head and face break out in a sweat and it’s very uncomfortable, so I avoid the bottled sauces when I can. It’s also why I don’t eat salads with a vinaigrette. Plus, bottled BBQ sauces use way more sugar than anybody needs in a savory meal. So I figured I could turn my rub into a sauce without those extra ingredients; after all, we eat the meats cooked in the rub without additional sauce.

As the Chowhound recipe for pulled pork in a slow cooker works (and I use the same method in a dutch oven, on the grill or in the oven), sliced onions and garlic and some stock or beer sits in the bottom of the cooker, under the rubbed meat. Adapting that for my sauce, I simply sauteed the onion and garlic, then added the rub and 3 cups of stock and cooked it down to 2 cups. Then I lightly thickened it with cornstarch. Same flavors, but in a sauce. I used the sauce with some poached, pulled chicken for BBQ chicken sandwiches. I recommend it to anyone who wants to try a lighter BBQ sauce that still has a distinctive BBQ flavor.

If this is too mild for you, simply consider using a dry rub as the flavor base for any vinegar/tomato/molasses sauce. In the case of this rub, cinnamon is the odd ingredient that we like, but there are a lot of rub recipes, both commercial and homemade that would make a good sauce.

Now if I could just find a slaw dressing without too much vinegar or sugar.

Dry Rub BBQ Sauce

  • Servings: makes 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 tablespoon olive oil

dry rub, as below or doubled for more flavor (or about 1/4-1/2 cup of your favorite rub)

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups chicken stock ( or any other flavorful stock)

mixture of 2 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Mix the dry rub ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat in small saucepan until translucent.
  3. Stir in garlic and dry rub, stirring to combine and to develop the spice and herb flavors
  4. Stir in the stock and bring to a medium boil. Continue to boil until the mixture is reduced to 2 cups. This took at least 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in the water and cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until lightly thickened. This is not enough cornstarch to make the sauce too thick.

Author: Barbara

I have a PhD in American Literature and taught in higher education for over twenty years and directed two Centers for Instructional Technology before retiring.

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