Today is set aside to honor all the good fathers that are in our lives. Mine is passed, as is the father of my children, yet we take a few minutes during this day to remember the times when our lives intersected and offered up both the trying times and those cherished moments we hold most dear. One trait both these men shared was a deep sense of compassion for those less fortunate, those in need. I have written about how my father always made sure that anyone who came to our door hungry went away with a full stomach. He held a strong belief that his family would always be fed if he paid it forward. My children’s father devoted his career advocating for people with disabilities to ensure their voices were heard. They both left their legacy and we, who were touched by their presence, are richer for it.
With all dads and families in mind, I chose today to feature my newest creation to enhance the backyard BBQ which has grown, not just as a favorite summer activity, but a huge year-round industry. Grills have not only increased in popularity but also in capability. What was once an item pulled out of the garage once or twice a summer for burgers and dogs, the grills on the market today can smoke an entire pig, rotisserie whole turkeys and chickens, roast a leg of lamb or pork shoulder and much more. As a child I never remember grilled vegetables as the common occurence they are today. Nothing is spared the heat as we experiment with everything from grilled salads, pizza and fruits. That said, the flavor enhancers, such a BBQ sauces and condiments have stepped into the spotlight as well. With this in mind, I was inspired to play with the sauce recipe I developed a few years back and elevate it to new heights.
Here is how it went down in my back yard kitchen this weekend.
JEANNE’S BOURBON BALSAMIC BBQ SAUCE Makes about 2c
1 shallot, diced fine (or small onion)
¼ c neutral oil, such as, grape seed oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 c aged balsamic vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 t molasses, unsulphered
½ t dry mustard
1/2 t Sriracha sauce or more to increase spiciness (or other hot sauce of choice)
½ c chili sauce
2 oz bourbon
1 t sea salt
¼ c water
- Sauté onions in the oil until soft. Add garlic and cook until softened but not brown.
- Add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, mustard, Sriracha, chili sauce, 1 1/2 oz. of the bourbon, salt and water.
- Stir well and simmer lightly for 25 to 30 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 oz. bourbon, stir and taste. Adjust salt and Sriracha, if needed.
Use on chicken, beef, pork, tofu or vegetables.
**Can be made up to a week in advance. Keep refrigerated.
This combination of ingredients, in my opinion, has it all. The balsamic is both sweet and tangy, a touch of heat is offered by the Sriracha, Worcestershire contributes to the saltiness and depth while the addition of the bourbon, during the cooking and then right at the end, gives the gift of smoke and wood from its time aging in charred oak barrels. The beauty of this sauce is it can be used on almost anything and can be adjusted to suit the individual. For instance, if you want it sweeter, add more molasses. If more heat is your thing, add more hot sauce. Get the picture?
Before going, I have a confession to make. Outdoor grilling, and all that it entails, was my father’s least favorite thing. He did not enjoy picnics, stating often how he ate with ants during his stint in the US Army during WWII and saw no reason to do it any longer. He did, however, enjoy good food. So in spite of his aversion to this popular American activity, I think he would have enjoyed the complexity of this sauce as he ate inside at the dining table, sans the insects.
I would be remiss if I did not mention another wonderful father who has deeply touched my life, my dear husband, Michael. He dedicated his career to teaching children and enhancing their lives by nurturing their love and understanding of music. He continues this work with both children and adults now and cheerfully serves as my culinary guinea pig. I have been blessed to have crossed paths with many devoted fathers and for that I am grateful. May the love you have given be returned many fold.
My sauce graced chicken legs and thighs last night and tonight it will serve as a dressing for the beef (requested by the “dad” of the house). I aim to please. Whether you are honoring your dad or other fathers today, keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. I send my gratitude to all the dads that have touched my life. Love to you from my outdoor kitchen to yours. Jeanne