JOURNAL: Belfast CarBomBBQ Sauce Experiment

It's finally edible! Until last night, I had never been able to concoct a good barbecue sauce that incorporates a shot and a beer, but I think I have finally found that saucepan full of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This recipe is a tribute to my Irish roots and a personal grilling ritual. When I lived in Vermont, where the weather is generally less than hospitable to a backyard barbecue, I made a tradition of breaking out the Weber on March 17th. Although there is rarely clement weather on St. Patty's day in Burlington, I couldn’t hold out any longer, so I used the holiday as my excuse to fire up the coals and declare the official start of grilling season.

The Belfast Carbomb is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, wherein a shot is dropped into a pint of stout and swallowed at high velocity, which got me thinking (hazily) that the flavors of Irish whiskey and stout would give a great spark to barbecue sauce, but my early attempts were lousy and so the idea was forgotten until I stumbled upon some old notes a few days ago.

This time I decided to go with a KC style sauce, which relies on a strong tomato flavor rather than the TN style, which is heavy on vinegar, I would simplify the ingredients and the process and I would switch to an Irish red ale from the overly dense, sweet and heavy stout. There were some complications, but it came out well nonetheless and I am looking forward to tweaking this recipe soon. I didn't have a red ale on hand, so I used PBR to replace all of the water and I meant to go with a shot of Jameson’s and a shot of vinegar, but I forgot and used a full quarter cup of vinegar, but I think I like it.

For the next batch, I am going to use the red ale instead of PBR (although the lager did work remarkably well, so I may come back to it), cut the sugar from a third to a quarter of a cup, and use a quarter cup each of whiskey and vinegar instead of shots. I may leave out the 1/2 tsp salt as well, and cut the shallots and oil in half (by volume). I am trying to think of what other flavors I might add, and am considering cloves at the moment.

Once I get the flavors hammered out, I would like to create a recipe that offers substitutions of canned tomatoes for ketchup and shallots or onions and garlic for onion and garlic powder with the caveat of needing to puree and more cooking time if solids are used. Ginger powder will probably never be replaced by fresh ginger, but if I can figure out how to do it, I’ll try.

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