Barbeque experts and aficionados agree: It’s all about the meat. Drenching barbequed meats in sauce either keeps you from appreciating the exquisite artistry and scientific knowledge that went into its preparation – or masks an inferior product. In fact, some eschew sauce altogether.

That said, good barbeque sauces used judiciously can enhance without overwhelming. Here’s my favorite.

  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. chopped onions, NOT super-sweet
  • 1 large red pepper, approximately 1 c. chopped
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 2 T. chopped garlic
  • 1/4 c. dark rum or bourbon
  • 1/4 c. pure chili powder
  • 1 T. coarsely ground black pepper, or more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 c. pineapple juice
  • 2 c. catsup, preferably Heinz
  • 1/2 c. unsulfured black strap molasses
  • 1/2 c. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. hot sauce, or more or less to taste
  • 1/2 c. pineapple or apricot preserves
  • 1 chopped jalapeno pepper, optional, seeds removed if desired (including the seeds makes the sauce hotter)
  • 2 c. chopped fresh pineapple
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, pepper, and salt. Stir to coat the vegetables, cover the pan, and let the vegetables “sweat” until they are softened and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Uncover the pan and stir in the garlic. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the rum or bourbon and continue to cook until there is no longer a strong smell of alcohol, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook a few minutes longer.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers gently. Simmer, stirring occasionally to be sure that nothing sticks to the bottom, until the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes. The thicker the sauce becomes, the more likely it is to stick, so you’ll need to stir it more frequently towards the end of the cooking time.

Cool the sauce to room temperature, then blend in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. It can be a completely smooth purée, or kept somewhat chunky, according to your preference. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.
Makes about 8 cups.

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