Whether you call it barbecoa, barbecue, braai, barbie or asado I would venture that most of us would have had some exposure to standing around the blistering wood and coal embers or the roaring gas burners of a grill on a lazy summer’s afternoon, watching the smoke swirls and the flames leap up and dance hypnotically between a variety of meats and vegetables, laid bare on searing hot grill bars. We chat about our week, our family, our shared community and share tips on how to do BBQ “right” as we slowly sip our drinks and slip into the evening.
We now leave the rich barbecue cultures of Africa and Australia at the doorstep (that warrants a post in itself) and focus on the BBQ of the Americas and discuss two staples of modern BBQ: The American BBQ Sauce (ketchup) and the Argentinian Chimichurri.
When it comes to BBQ sauce I am not sure if anybody knows definitively if it was East, West or South Carolina, Memphis, Texas, Alabama or Kansas city that invented the sauce; it is however no doubt that it is as American as bald eagles and Mount Rushmore.
As such I will simply offer my own recipe for your humble consideration and apologise in advance if my recipe offends anyone’s sensibilities as to what makes a “true” BBQ or Chimichurri sauce. (I always start by marinating my meats in a BBQ marinate first and use the BBQ sauce (ketchup) to glaze the meats as they cook on the grill as i find it imparts more flavor this way and gives a nice glaze as the sugars caramelize on the grill)
BBQ marinade for meats
- 100gm Tomato juice
- 25gm Apple cider vinegar
- 10gm Brown sugar
- 1gm Sweet paprika
- 1 pinch Mustard powder
Place in a ziplock bag with your meat and marinate for up to 12 hours.
BBQ Sauce (ketchup)
- 100gm Passata
- 60gm Red wine vinegar
- 30gm Maple syrup
- 1 shot Espresso coffee
- 1gm Liquid smoke
- 10gm Mustard powder
- 9gm Sweet paprika
- 1 pinch Cayenne pepper
- 6gm Onion powder
- 1 pinch Baking soda (to neutralise the acidity of the tomato)
Mix them all together, and adjust with red wine vinegar or maple syrup to suit your tastebuds. If you are staying at home during this period of time and would like to make it “Irish”, do feel free to substitute the shot of espresso with a shot of whiskey instead, or maybe two as long as you’re not working from home!
Grill your meats to your preference either over open coals, gas burners, a grill pan or a plancha, basting the marinated meats with the BBQ sauce as it cooks to create a nice rich glaze.
Now that we have the sweet sticky mouth watering glazed meats out of the way we can focus on our next star – the Chimichurri. It is among one of my favourite condiments of all for grilled meats and I use it liberally for grilled rib eyes, fillet steaks and oily fish. The acidity of the red wine vinegar helps to cut through the fats in the meats and the fresh herbs provide a refreshing zing and helps cleanse the palate with each bite; a perfect complement to BBQ.
- 120ml Olive oil
- 50ml Red wine vinegar
- 40gm Shallots, finely chopped
- 3gm Garlic, minced
- 50gm Parsley, finely chopped
- 2gm Dried oregano
- 50gm Tomatillo (or regular tomato diced)
- Red chilli, diced (optional) to taste.
Finish with some salt and cracked pepper. For fish i will replace the red wine vinegar with 1/2 a fresh lemon squeezed.
Taste and adjust the recipe to meet your own taste profile – maybe you’d prefer more garlic or more chilli. Go wild and mix it up to your preferred taste.
Of all the things I’ve learnt about BBQ, it is that there are no definitive BBQ recipes cast in stone or clay. That’s the beauty of BBQ – a chance for us to come together next to the fire to talk, exchange anecdotes, cook, laugh and bond over our shared love of food and our own diverse life experiences in the telling of a good tale.
So do get cooking and share some BBQ with the people you love and value the most right now, even if means simulating the BBQ in the oven – it’s all about the sense of community, love and sharing; for me at least.