Monday, July 28, 2008

Barefoot Contessa's Barbecue Sauce: Gettin' Potlucky

Every coupla weeks, I get together with a group of lovely ladies (including Veggie Might’s own Leigh) for a themed potluck dinner. It’s not your everyday, run-of-the-mill potluck, though. For one, there’s usually copious amounts of beer. For another. everybody gets completely freakin’ nuts with their creations. Nearly all of us are enthusiastic cooks, and it’s a rare chance to go crazy for a non-holiday occasion. We’ve had Mediterranean, Tailgate, and Vegetarian Nights so far, and I don’t think there’s been a dud dish in the group. Plus? THERE’S SO. MUCH. FOOD. By the end of each eve, we’re all like that “KILL ME” scene in Aliens, except our chests are bursting with meats and cheeses instead of hideous HR Giger monsters.

A different chick hosts the potluck each month, and Saturday, it went down at Casa el CHG in lovely Brooklyn, New York. Since our 109-year-old apartment building has a small backyard equipped with a medium-sized Thermos barbecue, a Grill Night theme seemed like the logical choice. So, the ladies (and their respective SOs) came over at 4pm, and we got busy applying some fire to some foodstuff. Seven hours later and EIGHTEEN dishes later, we finally stopped eating. It was heavenly.

The menu looked something like this:

A: Mango Gazpacho and Sugar Cookie S’mores
C: Swordfish, Scallop, and Vegetable Skewers with Lemon-Olive Oil Marinade
J: Grilled Honeysuckle Pineapple and Grilled Peaches with Honey Nut Cream Cheese & Honey
Kris: Fresh Lemonade, Cantaloupe with Prosciutto, and Grilled Flatbread with Eggplant, Gorgonzola, & Prosciutto OR Zucchini, Red Onion, Goat Cheese, & Parmesan
Leigh: Potato Salad and Tempeh Skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce
M: Barbecue Chicken, and Grilled Corn with Parmesan & Butter
R: Tri-Tip Steak with Cherry Tomato Salsa
S: Taco Dip

A’s husband A also made a sweet corn dish called Tomalito (delicious), and our manfriend B brought along some sweet, spicy Betty Crocker Guacamole. The weather was unusually non-humid, and to top it all off, THERE WERE TWO PUPPIES. (Well, one puppy and one truly adorable Snack. [Who is Leigh's dog, not an actual snack.]) Really, the whole shebang was perfect. I’m aglow. (And still stuffed, 37 hours later.)

One of the (many, many) highlights of this round was M’s chicken, slathered in Barefoot Contessa’s Barbecue Sauce. Ina’s recipes inevitably make one or two appearances each potluck, and they’re generally met with oohs, aaahs, and lots of satisfied burping. Her BBQ concoction was no different. Several other bloggers have raved about it before, and - woof - right on the money. There’s this initial sweetness followed by an unexpected heat, and it’s better than any jarred stuff I’ve ever had. What’s more, BC’s recipe makes a staggering 1-1/2 quarts (48 oz) of sauce, which compensates for the initial investment. Without exaggeration, it will last FOR MONTHS.

One caveat, though: to be totally honest, thanks to a few calorie-packed ingredients (including a half-cup of vegetable oil), it’s not exactly a light sauce compared to most supermarket brands. Nor is it a particularly cheap one. One ounce has about 30 more calories than the average KC Masterpiece or Bullseye and, depending on your local grocery prices, will probably cost more, too. BUT. (But but but.) Great googly moogly, I promise the taste will make up for it. And remember - this is universal sauce. It can be applied to much more than chicken.

So, thanks to M, thanks to the potluck ladies, and be on the lookout later this week for another faboo potluck recipe (hopefully J's pineapple, which ... oh my).

Barbecue Sauce
Makes 48 ounces of sauce
Adapted from Ina Garten.

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup tomato paste (10 ounces)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup honey
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1) In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over low heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions should be softer and translucent when done, "but not browned."

2) Add all remaining ingredients to pot. Cook/simmer 30 minutes. Serve or keep in fridge.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
73 calories, 2.6 g fat, $0.21 per ounce

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion): 63 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.71
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves): 13 calories, 0 g fat, $0.10
1/2 cup vegetable oil: 970 calories, 109.7 g fat, $0.48
1 cup tomato paste (10 ounces): 233 calories, 1.3 g fat, $1.00
1 cup cider vinegar: 50 calories, 0 g fat, $0.21
1 cup honey: 1031 calories, 0 g fat, $1.44
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce: 227 calories, 0 g fat, $1.20
1 cup Dijon mustard: 240 calories, 0 g fat, $2.13
1/2 cup soy sauce: 68 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.76
1 cup hoisin sauce: 563 calories, 8.7 g fat,
2 tablespoons chili powder: 49 calories, 2.6 g fat, $0.09
1 tablespoon ground cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes: negligible calories and fat, $0.30
TOTAL: 3507 calories, 122.5 g fat, $10.33
PER SERVING (TOTAL/48): 73 calories, 2.6 g fat, $0.21


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