If I had to be a plant, I’d think I’d choose rhubarb.
It’s predictable and reliable, but can always surprise you.
This rhubarb-based barbecue sauce is a good example.
Inspired by a recipe for Victorian Barbecue Sauce from the Bernardin Complete Book on Home Preserving (a book I highly recommend), this sauce has a rhubarb rather than a tomato base.
The original recipe is more of a chutney, and I wanted to create something spicier with a broader range of flavors. Cranberries help create a deeper color, and provide a slightly different range of tang to the finished sauce. A blend of spices rounds out the flavors.
For sweetness, I used brown sugar and molasses.
I’m sure the competition will be stiff, but what the heck. I hope you will try this sauce in any case. Win or lose, I think you’ll like it.
(FYI: Crosby’s molasses actually features twice in this recipe, because I used it for making the brown sugar.
Don’t pay extra for brown sugar when you can make is so easily yourself. Simply mix 1-2 tablespoons of molasses into a cup of granulated sugar.
If you have a stand mixer, you can whip up a batch in just a few minutes. I usually mix up 8 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of molasses at a time.
If you are mixing your sugar by hand, it will take a bit of patience, so only work with small batches in order to thoroughly incorporate the molasses.
I prefer the flavor of this home-mixed brown sugar to the commercial varieties available in the stores. The flavor is deeper and more interesting.)
- ¼ cup / 60 ml vegetable oil
- 4 cups / 1 liter chopped onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 tablespoons / 22.5 ml cumin
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml dry mustard
- ½ tablespoon / 7.5 ml chili powder
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
- ½ / 2.5 ml teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml coriander
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml ginger
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml paprika
- 8 cups / 2 liters chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup / 250 ml cranberries
- ½ cup /125 ml molasses
- ½ cup / 125 ml tomato paste or ketchup
- 1 cup / 250 ml cider vinegar
- 2-1/2 cups / 625 ml brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml thyme
- Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat.
- Add vegetable oil.
- Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure onions are not browning. If the onions start to brown, turn down the heat.
- Add garlic and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
- While onion and garlic are cooking, combine cumin, mustard, chili powder, salt, pepper, coriander, ginger and paprika in a small bowl. Add spices to onion and garlic mixture and stir to coat vegetables. Cook spices for 1 minute, stirring to keep them from sticking and burning.
- Add tomato paste or ketchup, and stir well to completely combine. Cook for one minute, then add molasses. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes to give flavors a chance to combine.
- Add rhubarb, cranberries, cider vinegar, brown sugar and thyme. Stir thoroughly to combine ingredients, then bring to a boil over med-high heat.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for one hour, or until mixture has started to thicken. When the sauce is ready, it should look a bit chunky, with the rhubarb broken down and the cranberries popped.
- Take the sauce off the heat and let it cool a bit before tasting. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, you can add up to ½ cup of brown sugar and stir it into the sauce until it has melted.
- If you like a chunky sauce, you can leave it as it is. Blend in a blender or food processor for a smooth sauce.
- Store sauce in fridge for up to 4 weeks.