Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Make a Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

Kansas City Style Barbeque Sauce is known for it's sweet, sticky, ketchupy flavor. It is much sweeter than a sauce native to the south. If you like a good, thick, sweet sauce then a Kansas City variety is a sure bet. Sauce is one of the things that I must confess, I'm not the best at. I have made sauces but nothing that I would consider to be award winning. I am still looking for a prize winning sauce recipe.

Kansas City Style Barbeque Rib Rub

What makes Kansas City Style Barbeque unique is the sauce. This regional style is all about the sauce which is much tangier and sweeter than the spicier sauce of the Southwest or the more bitter style of the Northeast. This weekend I had a taste for some "sweet meat" so I thought I'd try my hand at a KC style. As always, I prefer to rub my ribs down the day before I grill them so here is the recipe for a good, basic sweet rub:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of garlic powder

Rinse the ribs and trim away the excess fat. You can also pull the membrane (a thin layer of skin on the bone side of the slab) at this time. Rub the ribs down and wrap them tight in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge overnight. If time is of the essence, you can rub them and put them on the grill right away but I prefer to let those seasonings get into the meat over time.

Since a major component of the sweet rub is brown sugar, you have to cook it "slow and low" because the sugar will blacken very quickly. To fight this, I'll make a mist to spray over them throughout the cooking time. Mix a half cup of water with a half cup of pineapple or apple juice. You'll want to mist the ribs at least once an hour while cooking them. This will keep them good and moist and will help keep the sugar from burning so quickly.

Kansas City Style Barbeque Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup beer
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 clove of minced garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt

Brown the garlic in the olive oil and then mix in the remainder of the ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. This will make a sweet, ketchup based sauce so you may want to add the ingredients in smaller increments so you can adjust them to taste.

On cooking day, preheat your grill to 180 - 200 degrees. Place the ribs on the grill meat side up and let 'em smoke. Remember to keep an eye on your temperature because the sugar will burn quickly if your fire gets too hot. The ribs are going to smoke for about 5-6 hours but mist them with your water/juice mixture once every hour to hour and a half or so. Mop the ribs with your Kansas City Sauce over the last hour before you pull them off the grill. When the meat starts to shrink and pull away from the bones they're getting done.

Remember, the key to good Kansas City Style ribs is the sweetness and the sauce. That's also the most challenging part of cooking them. Make sure to keep the fire low and cook them slow!