Tag Archives: North Carolina

Make your own barbecue sauce this week

It’s July 4th week, which means the grills are going to be sizzling all over this country.

It’s a perfect time for me to take a break from my rotisserie chicken and showcase other fare.

I wrote this story for The Joplin Globe http://www.joplinglobe.com. And today, I am showing off some of my homemade barbecue sauce recipes. I make a mean sauce and have plenty of ideas for you.

Some are homemade, some are doctored up, but all are delicious. My Blueberry Port sauce is sooooooooo easy and delectable!DSC_0733 (2)

There are many styles of barbecue sauce in this nation. This is a very abbreviated version of some of the highlights:

There’s the sweet, dark, tomato and molasses variety from Kansas City, accented with a dose of liquid smoke. This is one of the nation’s most popular varieties and one of my favorites. And from that style, comes a variety of commercial spin-offs, like honey, honey-bourbon, etc.

I love the thickness of this variety because it sticks to the meat.

Then, there’s the mustard and vinegar sauce from South Carolina which I love, too. This style was inspired by German immigrants in South Carolina and is nothing like the K.C. variety. This sauce is very thin so it’s better to dip your meat in it (if you pour it over a sandwich, the bread will get soggy).

I make an easy 10 minute version with plain yellow mustard (traditional), a little coarse mustard (not so traditional), vinegar, sugar and lager. It’s best served on pork or chicken. The beer really compliments the mustard.

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North Carolina also serves up a vinegar sauce but has a good kick of hot pepper. I prefer its neighboring state’s tradition.

Then, there’s Texas, which has different varieties by region. There’s not a classic barbecue sauce per say, but the sauces in the Lone Star state tend to have heat, like jalapenos, and spices like cumin and chili powder. I’ve also found the varieties in Texas to be less sweet and thinner than the Kansas City style.

And Memphis has a style similar to Kansas City, with a lot of tomato and brown sugar or molasses in the recipe. Kansas City is actually a mutation from the Memphis version. Dry rubs are popular in Memphis.

While you can buy so many commercial varieties these days to reflect these traditions, it’s fun and easy to make your own (or doctor up your own).

When I make barbecue for a party, I like to put out a homemade barbecue sauce bar and offer five varieties or so. It’s perfect because people get to sample a variety of sauces and the smorgasbord of sauce satisfies a variety of taste buds.

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Here’s a tip: I usually put out pretzel sticks next to the sauce so people can dip a stick to taste the sauce and decide which one they want to use. You also use less meat this way and less chance of contaminating the sauce.

Another great thing about barbecue sauce is if the meat is a little dry, sauce can cover up that mistake. Even moist barbecue tends to dry out by the second day, so barbecue sauce can make leftovers more palatable.

I have a variety of recipes for you, including some doctored up varieties. And here’s a few extra ideas to doctor up some more sauces, but I recommend using inexpensive sauce when trying these:

  • Mix together 1 cup barbecue sauce with ½ cup hot picante sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • A shot of brandy or bourbon can add depth to a sauce.
  • Add ½ cup of beer to 1 ½ cups of sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Try adding in orange zest for a burst of flavor.
  • Chopped jalapenos will add great spice to a sweet sauce and make it sweet and spicy.
  • Try adding apple butter or a blackberry jam to sauce to kick up the sweetness and add depth.

Other than that, invite friends over and enjoy the barbecue.

Mustard and Lager Sauce

Makes a large batch

1 tablespoon coarse mustard

¼ cup yellow mustard

½ cup apple cider vinegar

2/3 cup Lager

2 tablespoons water

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 5 minutes (use an overly large pot to keep it from boiling over). Whisk ingredients together halfway through the cooking. Cool before serving.

This sauce is best with chicken, pork, and a variety of grilled sausages. A thick slice of sharp cheddar cheese is also nice dipped in this sauce.

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Blueberry Port Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons Port

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium pan and bring to a simmer. Use a potato masher to mash blueberries. Turn off heat and allow to cool. You can puree this sauce once it has cooled to make it smooth or serve as is.

Note: This sauce is so good, you can serve it as a dip either plain or on top of a block of cream cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

This sauce is best on chicken, pork, or salmon (as a finishing glaze).

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No Cook Peach Barbecue Sauce

Makes a small batch

½ cup Kansas City style barbecue sauce

2/3 cup canned peaches in heavy syrup (with about 1 tablespoon of the peach liquid in the cup)

Place peaches in the blender and blend until smooth.

Stir the puree into the barbecue sauce and serve.

This sauce is best with pork or chicken.

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Sweet BBQ Sauce (Similar to Kansas City)

Makes a medium batch (double the recipe for a party)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/3 cup chopped red onion

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¾ cup ketchup

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon liquid smoke

In a medium, nonstick pot, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions and ground cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so mixture does not stick. Turn off heat and cool before serving.

I personally like to serve this with the bits of onion, but you can put it through the blender if you want a smooth sauce.

This sauce is great with beef, game meats, or chicken.

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The Biltmore Estate is incredible

I wrote this story last month for The Joplin Globe, but somehow forgot to share it here. If you have never been, The Biltmore Estate is incredible. I’ve visited many times and will continue to go back. It’s the equivalent of visiting an amazing European castle, but you don’t have to leave the United States. This castle is SPECTACULAR at Christmas. And imagine, this was someone’s personal home?

Anyway, here is the story:

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, has something special to offer in every season.

In the spring, a sea of more than 100,000 vibrant tulips and daffodils sweep across the landscape during the Festival of Flowers.  The Biltmore is America’s largest privately owned home and the original gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York and the grounds around the U.S Capitol. A visit to the gardens is a must for any flower lover.

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In summer, visitors can soak up the beauty of more than 250 varieties of roses in the rose garden; take one of several gardening classes offered; or enjoy float trips, hiking, horseback riding, carriage rides, kayaking and other outdoor activities around the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is the backdrop for this mansion. There are sporadic concerts on the lawn in the summer, too.

Fall is a feast for the eyes and taste buds. There are wine and food-centered festivals and events (particularly in September), and the gardens glow with orange and gold mums. Plus, there’s the golden blush and amber kiss of autumn on the trees.

Fly fishing, Segway tours and horseback riding are all popular attractions this time of year. Cooler temperature means it’s a perfect time to explore the 8,000 acres that make up this estate.

In winter, the Biltmore house, a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, is decked out in Christmas glory and is a must for any holiday enthusiast. There are 50 Christmas trees in the home, including a 35-foot tree in the banquet hall.

The 65 fireplaces in this castle are adorned with garlands, wreaths and give the mansion a warm glow.   Antique ornaments, twinkling lights, Christmas carolers and many more Christmas trees decorate the surrounding estate.  There are candlelight night tours of the mansion showcasing its holiday beauty.

In every season, you can enjoy estate wines, wine tasting classes, a selection of fabulous food from a variety of restaurants on the property, outdoor activities, and shopping,

But no matter what the season, a tour of the Biltmore House is the main attraction.

It is 175,000 square feet of magnificence—to put that in perspective, the White House is only 55,000.

The extravagant mansion features original paintings by Renoir and a library stocked with more than 10,000 books.

Construction on the “chateau” began in 1889 and was the vision of George Vanderbilt. He was the grandson of the famous shipping tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was one of the richest families in that time period.

It took six years to complete the Biltmore and nearly 10 million pounds of limestone was used in the construction. The limestone was harvested in Indiana and shipped to North Carolina.

When George Vanderbilt opened the doors of his mansion, it showcased four acres of floor space, 43 bathrooms, an indoor pool, and a bowling alley (keep in mind, this was built in the late 1800s).

The banquet hall is stunning and boasts a 70-foot ceiling. When you tour this house, it feels like you’re in Europe. The opulence is jaw dropping. I’ve visited several times and I am continuously blown away, especially when I consider how long ago this mansion was constructed.

Vanderbilt was a bachelor when he built this, but he married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser shortly after in 1898. Many of their original artifacts are still in the home.

The couple welcomed for their only child, Cornelia, in 1900.

Vanderbilt died in 1914. He was 51.

Cornelia went on to marry a British diplomat John Francis Amherst Cecil, and they had two sons together.

In 1930, she opened the house to the public, hoping that this would lure tourists in during the Great Depression and help the surrounding city of Asheville.

Both sons grew up and helped preserve and manage the estate.

Their son William Cecil planted the first vineyards on the property in 1971. Today, the Biltmore is knowns for its wine and the website claims it’s the most visited winery in America.

There is so much to do, see, taste, and experience here; the Biltmore is a banquet for the senses and a wonderful getaway.

If you go:
A tour of the house will take an entire day, especially if you opt for an audio tour.  People with limited mobility may want to split it up over two days because the house alone stretches over four acres.

Depending on when you visit, you could safely plan three to four days at the Biltmore Estate, especially if you enjoy gardening or the outdoors. If all you want to do is tour the home and take a few classes or eat and shop, two days is sufficient.

There are many restaurants, seminars, classes, shops and outdoor activities on the estate. Some are free and some have a fee. Aside from spectacular gardens, there are gardening classes, wine tasting seminars, a plethora of outdoor activities.

The Biltmore has several inns and hotels, but they are pricier options than staying in Asheville and driving in to the estate.

Depending on the season, there are discounts online (there are often discounts in the fall). Visit www.biltmore.com for more information.

Photos courtesy of the Biltmore Company