Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Condiments

After a lot of painstaking soul searching, I have made my peace with a stunning realization about myself.

I am a sauce freak.

I’m sure it’s rooted somewhere deep in my childhood when I would employ every strategy I could to cover up the taste of food I was being forced to eat against my will.

Like peas.


Beef tongue.

My first standard cover-up was my grandfather’s barbecue sauce. This was more of a staple around the house than ketchup (which I was never a big fan of, anyway). And it had enough zip and flavor to adequately disguise some of those evil food products my mother subjected me to.

Like beans and ham hocks.

Can you tell I grew up in the South?

As someone who likes to play with her food, I have long sense ventured from the super secret family barbecue sauce recipe (which I was chastised soundly by my sister for threatening to publish) to any number of equally, if not more satisfying, recipes.

For the latest family barbecue, I thought I’d try one that was a nice combination of smoky, fruity and spicy. It went (I thought) very well with the grilled chicken we were having.

And of course for the traditionalists in the group, I made Granddad’s sauce as well.

The barbecued chicken was so good, I thought I’d whip up some barbecued chicken quesadillas this week for a quick dinner.

Smoky Apricot Barbecue Sauce

4 slices smoked bacon
½ cup sweet onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
1 cup tomato ketchup
¼ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup honey
½ cup apricot preserves
¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup cider vinegar

Brown bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and add the onion. Sauté over medium heat until onion begins to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients and bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook about 20 minutes.

Puree the mixture with a hand blender.

* * *

For the quesadillas I spread the barbecue sauce on two flour tortillas. I added cooked chicken, cheese, green onion and crumbled bacon (which I had reserved from the barbecue sauce) to one of the tortillas and cover with the second tortilla. Heat a small amount of oil in a cast iron skillet and cook the quesadilla on one side until golden. Flip and cook the other side.

* * *

As an accompaniment to the curry I made the other night, I wanted some mango chutney, but rather than spending $5 for a little bottle of it, I decided to just make a batch of my own. Much more satisfying (and economical). I’m thinking that the leftovers would be really good on a Cuban type sandwich with sliced pork and some cheese.

Mango Chutney

2 firm-ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
½ onion, finely diced
½ jalapeno, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 cardamom pods, cracked, hulls removed and seeds crushed
¼ tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Allow to come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, about 30 - 45 minutes until thickened.

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