Sweet onion BBQ sauce

Image

If one food could be said to epitomize summer it would be ribs. Ribs go hand in hand with summer, sun, BBQ and cold brewskis, which is why the smell of a baby back on the grill makes me want to put on my sunglasses and open a Corona. Barbecuing is a science in itself so I will not get into the techniques and different schools, but instead give you my own recipe of a delicious sweet onion sauce which goes very well with ribs (and many other things!).

Before I give you the recipe I would like to discuss something real quick. What makes a good barbecue sauce? I’ve made barbecue sauces many times and over the time I have learned that the most important ingredient is sugar. Whether you use simple syrup, refined sugar, corn syrup, molasses sugar, cane sugar or natural sugar from, say, apple juice, it is very important. You want a dense sauce, which will caramelize and stick to the meat, which is why sugar is such an important ingredient. If your BBQ sauce lacks sugar it will never stick to the meat, and even if it does, it will not give it that finger-licking deliciousness that you are looking for. Okay, sugar is important but you want flavor too. One of the most appetizing smells is onions frying in a pan. Many hot dishes, whether we are talking curries, stews, sauces or oven dishes, start with onions frying in oil, which is why this particular aroma often awakens a hidden appetite – it means food is on its way! By adding this smell (and flavor!) to our sauce the guest will certainly build up an appetite while waiting for the food to be done, which is why I love this sweet onion sauce.

ImageImageImage

Sweet onion BBQ sauce

3 teaspoon white mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 whole star anise

2 red onions

2 cloves garlic

chili (as much as you like)

70 g / 2.5 oz tomato concentrate

1 dl / 3.8 oz Ketchup (Heinz works very well!)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

3 teaspoons smoked paprika

5 dl / 17 oz apple juice or apple cider

½ dl / 1.7 oz syrup

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon English Sauce or Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vinegar (whatever kind you like – neutral, apple cider or balsamic work well)

3 tablespoons molasses sugar or cane sugar

Canola or other oil

Salt.

Blend together onions, garlic, chili (without seeds) and tomato concentrate. Fry on low heat in a couple of tablespoons of oil for about 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile toast fennel and mustard seeds with star anise and the black peppercorns on a pan on very low heat for the same amount of time. Grind the spices and add to the sauce with the paprika, onion and garlic powder. Fry for another minute. Add the ketchup and mix all the ingredients well. If starting to stick just add more oil. Fry until the mixture is dense and dark in color (another few minutes). Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat until the sauce is very thick and dark brown, stirring occasionally (around 45 minutes). Add salt to taste.

Leave the sauce to cool and blend until smooth using a stick blender or blender/liquidizer. This sauce can easily be stored in the fridge for a long time.

Make sure you DO NOT apply this sauce until the last 20 minutes of cooking or all the sugars will start to burn rather than caramelize. Also, keep it away from direct heat (if possible).

Go ‘cue it up!

Advertisements

Pizza. Getting that crust right!

Image

Pizza is probably the most famous food item from Italy. Although its origin is surrounded by some controversy it is very likely that the pizza was born in Naples. Nevertheless, you can buy incredible pizza everywhere in the country, as well as abroad. I’m lucky enough to have lived more than one year in Italy and have eaten good pizza everywhere from Sicily and Campania through Lazio, Umbria, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and all the way to the northern regions of Linguria and Lombardy. One thing that all the great pizzas have had in common has been the crust. Whether you like thick or thin crust, it should be crunchy!

So… How do you get the crust just right? Since most of us do not posses a wood fired pizza oven, I have has set out to demystify the concept of crunchy pizzas. I will explain how you can give your pizzas the most delicious crunchy crust, which will take your pizzas to the next level and give you the authentic feel.

My dad has always been crazy about pizza, which was reflected in my upbringing: home-made pizza every Friday. Having eaten pizza every single Friday for 18 years straight, and having lived in Italy for more than one year I am quite skeptic when it comes to pizza. I am pretty hard to please, which is the reason why I had to hack the secret(s) of crunchy pizza. So what makes a pizza crunchy? Three factors are important: the dough, the baking temperature and the surface. You will need to knead the dough for 15 minutes and then refrigerate it for 18-24 hours. This will create an elastic dough which will become very crispy. In order to boost that crunchiness, you’ll additionally need to heat the oven (or BBQ) to the highest temperature and use a baking/pizza stone – these three little tricks are the secrets that will give your pizza that desired crispiness rather than a soggy, doughy crust.

Pizza dough:

2 tablespoons sugar or honey

½ tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1,85 dl. warm water

5 dl. all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon instant yeast or 25 grams fresh yeast

a little extra olive oil for coating the bowl and the pizza

Pizza sauce:

Half a can of peeled tomatoes

2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil

1-2 cloves of garlic

Salt & pepper to taste

Toppings:

Fresh mozzarella cheese (not the pre-grated kind)

Basil

Whatever you desire!

Equipment needed:
Pizza stone

Add all the ingredients (except for the flour) for the pizza dough in a bowl and mix together. Gradually work the flour into the mix. Once the dough is uniform remove it from the bowl and kneed for minimum 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl coated in olive oil, cover and refrigerate for 18-24 hours. Make sure that the bowl is big as the dough will rise.

For the pizza sauce add all the ingredients in a blender and blend for half a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the dough has been in the fridge for minimum 18 hours kneed the dough again and tear off a piece. Using your hands to stretch the dough into a disc, add a little olive oil to the disc and add pizza sauce and the desired toppings.

Now, if you have a BBQ that would be the first choice although a domestic oven will work as well. If using a BBQ place the pizza stone over the BBQ, heat to around 300 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pizza dough, add toppings and transfer to pizza stone and let the pizzas bake for 5-6 minutes or until the crust has turned crunchy and the cheese has melted. Do not use coal as this will affect the flavor. Use a gas or wood fired BBQ.

If using an oven turn it to its highest temperature and place the pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven. Once the stone is hot transfer the pizza to the stone and bake for 6-8 minutes or until the crust has turned crunchy and the cheese has melted.

Enjoy!