BECAUSE barbeque sauces are by nature somewhat basically free-form, ingredient proportions are not usually exact, says Phillip Schulz in his barbeque cookbook ``Cooking with Fire & Smoke.'' Amounts can be increased or decreased to accommodate individual tastes -- an important tip when it comes to chilies and hot sauces. Long before sweet sauces were synonymous with the deep South, barbeque sauce was nothing more than a fast rub of salt, pepper and spices, or a marinade, mostly of vinegar.
In most of America today, the majority of barbeque sauces are tomato-based, made with commercial ketchup, chili sauce, canned tomatoes -- or all three. The extra flavorings in the base make them geographically different.
These locally available ingredients used for both brushing and dipping sauces makes our regional barbeques unique. A sauce from the Northeast may have maple syrup. You might find a hint of molasses in the Pennsylvania Dutch region, and apricot-pineapple in the marinades of northern California.
In the Gullah country of the Carolinas, even to this day, purists object to any embellishment of the basic vinegar marinade used in this part of the country for many generations. However, in parts of Texas, where a ``meat rub'' takes the place of a basting sauce, the only addition is likely to be Tabasco.
The following are from ``Cooking with Fire & Smoke.'' Raspberry Brush (For pork, duckling and game birds) 1 jar (12 ounces) raspberry preserves 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1/2 cup chili sauce 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Strain preserves through a sieve into a medium saucepan. Pour vinegar through sieve to loosen seeds. Discard seeds. Add chili sauce and mustard to saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 2 minutes. Makes about 2 cups. LBJ Barbeque Sauce (For beef, poultry, and pork) 1/2 cup ketchup 1/4 cup cider vinegar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup water 1 large celery rib, roughly chopped 1 large bay leaf 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped 1 small white onion, roughly chopped 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian hot paprika 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes.
Makes 1 1/4 cups. Georgia Peach Sauce (For poultry and pork) 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 cup peach preserves 1 tablespoon ketchup 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika 1/4 cup cider vinegar 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Makes about 2 1/3 cups. Spinach-Herb Sauce 5 ounces fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh basil 1 shallot or mild onion, sliced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup walnut oil 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons wine vinegar Freshly ground pepper
Place spinach, basil, and shallot in food processor and process until smooth. Add all ingredients except pepper and whisk l minute more. Add pepper to taste. Good for grilled steak, chicken, duck, or fish. Makes about 1 cup. Nasturtium Butter 1/4 cup unsalted butter 1 small shallot, minced 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 1/2 cup nasturtium leaves, torn Salt
In medium bowl, whisk butter with shallot, hot pepper sauce, and nasturtium leaves until well mixed.
Whisk in salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
Good topping for grilled chicken, fish and vegetables. Makes about 1/2 cup.
Note: To prepare a fresh coconut for the above recipe, poke an ice pick through the eye of the coconut.
Then you can drain the coconut milk into a glass. You'll have to strain the milk through a cheesecloth and reserve it for later use. Break the coconut shell with a hammer. Pare the coconut.
Cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.