Nicely Spicy BBQ Sauce

The basic building blocks of barbecue sauce are not esoteric; it's all about how you put them together. Put your own stamp on it, and develop a micro-regional cuisine all your own. Note: The use of different chiles brings depth and roundness to this sauce. If you like it even spicier, feel free to leave in some or all of the seeds from the chipotles and ancho.

Recipe courtesy of Sean Timberlake
TOTAL TIME: 13 hr 50 min
Prep: 40 min
Inactive Prep: 12 hr
Cook: 1 hr 10 min
YIELD: About 6 cups
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

  • 2 quarts tomato puree
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper flake
  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 to 3 dry chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry ginger
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • Special equipment: Canner
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      Directions

      Infuse the sauce. Combine the tomato puree, onion, garlic, hot pepper flake, ancho, chipotle, celery seed and salt in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until all the vegetables and dry chiles are soft, about 30 minutes.

      Prepare the jars and lids. Wash all jars and lids thoroughly with soap and water and rinse well. Fill your canner with enough water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch and bring to a simmer. Using a pair of canning tongs, lower the jars in gently, tilting them to fill with the hot water. In a small saucepan, keep some water warm but not boiling; place the lids in the water. Have an additional kettle of water on to boil.

      Strain the sauce. Ladle the sauce into a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl or other container, pressing with the back of the ladle to extract as much sauce while leaving solids behind. Alternatively, use a food mill for the same effect. Once strained, return the sauce to the saucepan.

      Finish the sauce. Place the peppercorns in a tea infuser or cheesecloth sachet, and add to the sauce. Add the bourbon, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, mustard and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or scorching, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove the sachet of peppercorns, and remove sauce from heat.

      Fill and close the jars. Using canning tongs, remove the jars from the canner, carefully pouring the water back into the canner. Set next to the sauce in the saucepan. Turn the heat under the canner to high. Use a ladle to pour the sauce into the jars through a canning funnel, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top. Run a clean chopstick around the inside of the jar to dislodge any trapped air. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel. Place the lids on, and screw on the rings until just finger-tight.

      Seal the jars. Using canning tongs, gently transfer the jars to the canner, taking care to keep them vertical. When all the jars are in the canner, there should be at least 1 inch water covering them; if you need more, add water from the kettle until the jars are sufficiently covered. Bring the water to a full rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes.

      Remove and cool. Using canning tongs, gently remove the jars from the canner and transfer them to a kitchen towel or cooling rack, again keeping them vertical. Do not set hot jars directly onto cool counter surfaces. Leave to cool, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours. If any of the jars do not seal when cool, reprocess using the method above, or refrigerate and use immediately.

      Label and store. Add a label to the lid or side of your jar, noting the date it was canned. Remove the rings and store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate after opening.

      Properly-handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.

      Notes

      Tips: Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic, or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum seal when processed.

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