Barbecue Sauce

In Berkeley, California, there is a barbecue place called Everett and Jones’ Barbecue, which makes a mouth-watering barbecue sauce. When I was chef at Ventana in Big Sur, I had to produce a barbecue, but was four hours from the nearest good sauce. It was winter, so I had a lot of time to think about how that secret sauce was made. Apple butter came to mind as a possible ingredient, mainly because of the similarity of color and texture. In Ventana’s kitchen storeroom were shelves and shelves of cheap canned fruits I had inherited. So one day I started, with Willie Bishop, my old friend and kitchen assistant from Chez Panisse, to throw everything unwanted in a huge pot, including canned catsup and strange bottled sauces. We cooked it for hours, stirring occasionally, and with the help from a little liquid smoke, we produced an honorable version of Everett and Jones’ original.

Years later at the Santa Fe Bar & Grill, Steven Vranian rose to the challenge and worked on the recipe again. Here it is. If you like it hot, use smoked chipotle chilies—they are wondrous.

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Ingredients

  • 10 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 8 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 heads garlic, chopped
  • 4 to 5 fresh serrano chilies, stemmed, chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 to 8 ounces ancho chili puree
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup ancho chili powder
  • ¼ cup cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Method

Heat oven to 350°F.

Put all the ingredients in a thick-bottomed pot and cover. Bake 2½ hours, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Puree in a food processor and then pass through a sieve.