Stick-to-the-Ribs Barbecue Sauce

Greene is a New-York based food writer

When food editors from throughout the United States gathered in this city that stretches from Missouri to Kansas, I bet you can guess what they talked about, food. It still is the No. 1 topic at the International Food Media Conference.

What makes Kansas City such a viable meeting ground for "foodies" is the food. This town has more than earned its reputation as "the heartland of America's culinary axis." And, despite any doomsayers to the contrary, I cannot believe the good things to eat on this turf will ever change. Why should it? When it's so utterly and satisfying stick-to-the-ribs good.

Touring for Barbecue

Speaking of which, let me tell you how I spent four days at the food editors' conclave. After making a speech--that sent me bopping to the Midwest in the first place--I expended the rest of my energies organizing friends and acquaintances of like proclivities and visiting every barbecue joint we could muster in a 10-mile radius.

The list was long and the distances between not easy to navigate but with determination and the help of cabs and friend's borrowed cars, the barbecue lovers met and ate at one, sometimes two, rib, pork or beef eateries per day. One wine and food columnist set the record for barbecue-going. He is rumored to have visited five eateries in the same afternoon. All in the line of work, of course.

If you can't get to Kansas City and your tongue is hanging out for a real "scorched" rib or chicken wing here are two of the best barbecue toppings I know. Use at home on an outdoor grill, or under a kitchen broiler. The following sauces are both borrowed from Phillip Stephen Schulz's outdoor cookbook, "Cooking With Fire & Smoke" (Simon & Schuster, 1986: $17.95).

JOHNNY REB SAUCE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup minced celery

1 cup tomato sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in celery, tomato sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, water, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cloves, salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Makes about 2 cups.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (12-ounce) can beer

1/2 cup tomato juice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 lemon, sliced, seeds removed

1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika

2 tablespoons mild ground chiles

1 teaspoon crushed dried hot chiles

Dash marjoram

Dash thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion. Cook 1 minute. Add garlic. Cook 4 minutes. Stir in beer, tomato juice, mustard, Worcestershire, brown sugar, lemon, paprika, chiles, marjoram, thyme, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Remove lemon slices. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
67°