In addition to tasting and making beer, I enjoy cooking and finding new and delicious recipes to try. When I purchased Extreme Brewing [Amazon] by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, I was very pleased to find several recipes that use beer as an ingredient. The first recipe that I decided to try was the Smoky Maple-Porter BBQ Sauce on p. 167.
I didn’t have any Belgian candi sugar so I substituted with Chinese rock sugar. I also reduced the amount of olive oil used. The following is the slightly modified recipe that I followed. You can see all of the ingredients in the picture above.
- About 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or just enough to fry the onions and garlic
- 1 chopped white onion
- 4 cloves of chopped garlic
- 12 oz. of Sierra Nevada Porter (I flattened mine by leaving it out overnight in the fridge)
- 3 beef bullion cubes
- 1/2 cup of Chinese rock sugar
- 1 cup of maple syrup
- 12 oz. of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
- 2 teaspoons of crystallized gingered chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons of black pepper
After preparing all of the ingredients, the rest of the process was simple and straightforward. First, using the olive oil, I sautéd the onions followed by garlic until lightly browned and not burned. If you burn the garlic, it will taste bitter. After the onions and garlic were cooked, I added the beer and brought it to a simmer. Next, I added the beef bullion cubes and the rock sugar. The bullion cubes reduced down quickly but the big chunks of rock candy were taking a while and I was starting to lose liquid to evaporation. After about three-quarters of the sugar was melted down and one-third of the liquid reduced, I added all of the remaining ingredients and mixed them well to produce a thick sauce. I let it simmer for a little bit and took it off the heat.
The end result is a very sweet BBQ sauce with a touch of smoky flavor. The spices give it some depth and interest and the cayenne and black pepper give it a subtle kick without being spicy hot. Some BBQ sauces can be a little too tart from using vinegar but this recipe uses none.
After making the sauce, I used it for three different meals. For the first meal, I made grilled BBQ chicken by simply spreading the sauce over the chicken, letting it marinade for about 30 minutes and then cooking it on the grill slowly. For the next meal, I used the sauce to make homemade BBQ chicken pizzas. I mixed a little sauce with the cooked chicken that I used as a pizza topping and also used the BBQ sauce as the sauce for the pizza. Finally, I made BBQ bacon cheeseburgers with onions rings.
If I were to make this sauce again, I would try to make it a little bit less sweet. I prefer a balance of flavors in my BBQ sauces and this recipe is heavy on sugar. To reduce the sugar I would first crush up the rock sugar so I can add a little bit at a time and I would also start with half the amount of maple syrup and add more as I would see fit.