Dunking your brand new white mop into a fresh batch of homemade sauce goes against everything mother had taught you. OK all rules ascend out the window when you begin to baste a half-done smoky rack of ribs. The aromatic mix of spice, vinegar, and smoke waft into the air, and you can’t help but to apply more.
I’d like to share a recipe I found online and tweaked a little for my taste. It’s a Chocolate Infused BBQ Sauce. I know what you’re thinking, “What is he thinking?” Chocolate and BBQ? Chocolate and Smoke? Don’t get me wrong, it sounds weird, but tastes very good. Here’s how it’s done!
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – See Note Below
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped – See Note Below
- Combine ketchup and next 9 ingredients (through pepper) in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.
I decided to make a few notes for the interested reader.
- If you’re going to use Chocolate, go big! OK, I didn’t look too hard at the grocery store. I went with what cost more than Hershey’s or Nestle. I decided to go with Guittard’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. I felt the flavor stood out more when I have baked with them in the past.
- Also, when a recipe calls for freshly ground pepper, then ground your pepper freshly! I have a mortar and pestle. I love going with a rainbow mix of Peppercorn.
- For those of you who have ever tasted chili infused chocolate, go ahead and throw in some chili powder to taste. The sweet of the chocolate and brown sugar really compliment the kick of pepper and chili powder.
As you delve into your pit master career, and hone your craft there, every once in a while it’s good to regress back to something basic, something easy. The sort of cooks that once upon a time you cut your teeth on, all those many years ago, back when you thought putting a hot dog on the grill was a holy event. Indeed, it’s a refreshing respite on the grilling front, for a time, to set aside all notions of fancy rubs and intricate marinades, of exotic smoke woods, and elaborate technique, and simply put meat to flame and call it good enough. That’s what I felt like today, beneath a cold December sky. Something simple.
A couple of chicken thighs in the back of the freezer would be just right. Had I the proper equipage, I might have done a carbon 14 dating process on the meat, but seeing I had no such device, why not let ignorance be my ally. Thus, over a beautiful bed of coals glowing hot-orange, thighs were put over direct heat to start, to sear and crisp them up a little, then placed over indirect heat for the rest of the cook. Even at 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside, on a wintry Minnesota eve, with the lid on the grill it easily kept up to the task of cooking supper. I stood grill-side, hands in my jacket pockets, admiring how the moon looked in the sky, whilst savoring the simplicity of the cook. We all should do this sort of grilling more often, I thought. I even resisted the urge to add smoke wood, purely to adhere to my simplistic mantra of the day. However, I did hit them with a touch of garlic salt, just because. The results later, were a couple very tender chicken thighs, juicy, with a crisp skin, sided with a left-over portion of the Christmas corn. Son! Perfection in simplicity. Procured at the tail of a moon beam. And for all the fancy flavors we like to impart on our meat, and they are quite good, don’t get me wrong, there is still something to be said for a little salt, a dash pepper, and a hot bed of coals.
Once upon a time, OK a couple years ago, I got a knock on my door. I swung it open to see the UPS guy shuffling down the driveway to his brown truck. I looked down upon my doorstep and there was the big box from the Weber company I was expecting. It was some where in the days leading up to Christmas, and I thought it fit for myself to get me a little gift if you will. Something to sooth the meat eater in me, and while away a good matter of my Christmas vacation. A Water Smoker. Shaped like R2D2, and probably just as smart, this little gem started out it’s life with us in style, on the living room carpet, with holiday music playing softly, and the multi-colored light’s of the Christmas tree reflecting upon it’s glossy, black-enameled finish. It’s good to surround newborns in such love, and let them know that they matter.
I settled on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker after much study, and much review. It is a solid smoker, that will hold the ideal temperature for hours on end with out babysitting. It cooks in a vertical format if you please, and has two racks, and a 2 gallon water bowl. This dude will not only smoke your Christmas ham, but your big old turkey as well, not to mention 4 racks of ribs – all at once. It was a beautiful sight, and I might have shed a tear, as I pieced it together out of the box, giddy as a school boy on Christmas morning. I set it up, and leaned back and admired it. We bonded, the grill and I, right there in the living room. Like a baby duck to her mama, it imprinted on me. It was the genesis of a beautiful relationship. And then my phone rang.
It was my fellow Patron of the Pit, John, and he had good news for me. It seemed on this very eve, the stars and what ever else were aligned, and he too received a new grill this day. My eyebrow raised, sensing the gravity of the moment, and a fellowship of the flame was ignited. He was giddy too, bouncing around the house in his pajamas, assembling his new cooker. The 1038 Square inch Char-Griller 2137 Outlaw with option offset smoker box. He was in love. And I was happy for him. It’s like we both got dates to the prom on the same day. Our world was complete.
Being the meat geeks that we are, John also scoured the market reviews before any wallet was pried. He settled on the Char-Griller Outlaw, which was highly favored by many, and maybe the best bang for the buck available at the time. With cast iron grates, adjustable fire grate, and a chimney that make grown men smile, he has procured many a meal for this grill. It’s your truly poetic sort of pit. If ever something was going to look cool covered in suet, grease, and BBQ sludge, this is it. Your quintessential blackened barrel, tipped over, cut in half, and more than capable of anything BBQ.
And so it was, two pits, and two men, conspired together at the roll of the BBQ dice. As if it were meant to be. Brethren of the Flame. And the Patrons of the Pit.
Getting prepared for the rib rack smoke! The coal chimney is an essential tool for smoking. It evenly heats up the coals and does it with crunched up newspaper. No lighter fluid ever needed. Other than the coal, it’s a tool that separates those who use charcoal grills and gas grills. The argument is, gas grills are faster. That may be, but it lacks in the flavor grilling is known for…Smoke. Then again, why grill if you’re in a hurry. Enjoy your time outdoors. Light your pipe, sip your Iced Tea, snooze in your hammock. In reality, charcoal may add about 15 min to your grilling session. Use that time to prep your cut of meat. Once you get used to that flavor, it’s hard to cook without it! If you’re in a hurry, microwave leftovers. – POTP