Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ Kansas City BBQ Sauce: Sweet, Spicy & Smokey~

IMG_7624I'm a sauce-a-holic.  I think almost everything tastes better with a perfectly executed sauce on top of it, underneath it or to the side of it.  In the culinary world, I think a saucier (a person who has devoted themself to the art and science of saucemaking) is the most valuable person in the kitchen.  Simmer down... think about it a moment.  From appetizers to desserts in every cuisine, a simple or sophisticated sauce not only enhances food, it'll mask a minor mishap or a mistake!

IMG_7538Yesterday, my husband grilled three racks of baby-back spareribs.  Trust me when I tell you, he had no mishaps and made no mistakes.  They were perfectly executed:  crispy on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside with just the right to-the-tooth chew-off the bone too...  

PICT0002... spot-on and seriously perfect!  

PICT0009First, the rubbery silverskin was corrrectly removed from the back of them, then, they were were seasoned with ~ Jesse's Smokin' Rib Rub a la Jesse's Mom (Mel) + (My Tips and Techniques for Gas Grill Smoked Ribs ~.   Pretty much everything I know about grilling ribs is in this post and you can find it in Categories 8, 10, 15 & 17!

Joe's ribs were a masterpiece & deserved a KC-style BBQ sauce!

IMG_7684Kansas City has a style of barbecue all its own.  It evolved from the Kansas City, MO, barbecue pit of Henry Perry in the early 1900's.  He operated his business out of a trolley barn located at 19th and Highland Street in an African-American neighborhood.  Perry served slow-cooked ribs on pages of newsprint for 25 cents a slab. Perry was a native of the Memphis, TN area, which is why Kansas City and Memphis barbeque styles ended up being so similar:   Meat, poultry and even fish is smoked at a low heat for a long period of time over a variety of woods and then covered with a thick, tomato- and molasses-based sauce.  

The biggest difference between the two styles sometimes seems subtle to outsiders like me, but highly-recognizable to Kanses City locals:

KC-style lovers use quite a bit more sauce than Memphis-style lovers , and KC-style sauce is the perfect balace of sweet and spicy.  It leaves you with a pleasing, peppery afterglow in the back of your mouth, and, because it spends so much time at the barbecue being slathered on the finshed meat as it comes off the fire, it takes on a hint of smoke flavor too.  Here's a rundown of what goes into most homemade versions and my family's ultimate favorite concoction:


3-4  tablespoons butter (3 if using a round-sided saucier, 4 if cooking in a flat-bottomed saucepan)

1  cup finely-diced yellow or sweet onion

2-4  large cloves garlic, run through a garlic press

1  12-ounce bottle chili sauce (1, 12-ounce bottle = 1 cup chili sauce)

1  cup ketchup

6  tablespoons full-flavor molasses

6  tablespoons firmly-packed dark brown sugar

6  tablespoons apple-cider vinegar

2  tablespoons yellow mustard

1  tablespoon chili powder

1/2  teaspoon smoked paprika

1  teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4-1/2  teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, to taste

1/4-1/2  teaspoon hickory-flavored liquid smoke, to taste

IMG_7558 IMG_7556~ Step 1. Melt the butter over low heat. Add the diced onion and pressed garlic.  Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and just beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes.  Do not over-brown the onion or the garlic.

IMG_7573~ Step 2.  Add all of the remaining ingredients, as listed, but, when you get to the cayenne pepper and liquid smoke, only add 1/4 teaspoon of each initially.  Stir to thoroughly combine.

Note:  After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, taste and add more of either or both the cayenne and liquid smoke, to taste.

IMG_7579~ Step 3.  Adjust heat to a slow, gentle, but steady simmer and continue to cook for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning, as directed above, after 15 minutes.  

IMG_7598Turn the heat off, cover the pan and allow mixture to steep for 1 hour, to allow all of the flavors to marry.

IMG_7600~ Step 4.  Technically, the warm sauce is ready to use, but, if you don't like your sauce with a slightly-chunky consistency, which my family insists I don't mess with, feel free to transfer the mixture to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  With motor running, process until pureed and smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a food storage container, store in the refrigerator (up to 2 weeks) and gently reheat prior to serving!

Tonight we're slathering it on Joe's perfectly-grilled chicken:

IMG_7643Mel's Homemade Kansas City-Style BBQ Sauce:  Recipe yields 3 cups.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; garlic press; 3-quart saucier w/lid, or a 3-4-quart saucepan w/lid; large spoon; food processor (optional); 1-quart food storage container

PICT0023Cook's Note:  For one of my fruity-flavored BBQ sauce recipes, check out ~ Sweet Heat:  Strawberry & Guajillo Chile Sauce, or:  Summer Strawberries Never Tasted Sooooo Good! ~ in Categories 6, 8, 13, 20 or 22, or, for one of my savory BBQ sauce recipes:

6a0120a8551282970b014e8859dfc0970d-800wi~ Mel's Spicy Honey-Mustard BBQ Sauce for Pork ~ is in Cats. 8, 10 & 22! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 3013)


Thanks for the post, and after looking at and all of the beautiful sweet heat seasonings. It kind of makes me a little upset because my body can't handle almost any food that is the least bit spicy. And it's a shame because I hear so many people talking about how great spicy food is.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment