There is one All-American food. Barbecue. It has different meanings depending on geography. In the Carolinas, barbecue is usually pork and is mopped with a vibrant vinegar-based sauce while cooking. Memphis is all about pork ribs and pulled pork cooked with a dry rub and served with a tangy vinegar-tomato sauce.
In Georgia, the birthplace of Brunswick Stew, pork and chicken dominate featuring countless variations of tomato-based tangy sauce.
Florida is diverse. North Florida is Georgia’s kissing kin. However, I’ve found distinct, incredibly delicious sauces in South Florida infused with citrus juices and tequila.
Texas is all about the smoke. Fredericksburg is home to chocolatier, Lecia Duke, a Texas legend known everywhere as the Lone Star State’s chocolate queen. She shared how her husband prepares beef brisket. “Nick mesquite smokes his brisket for hours and hours (like 8 or 9 hours, till it falls off the bone)….with just lemon pepper and garlic salt. It is so savory, people just fall all over themselves just to get more!”
Never minimize the importance of sauces. Here is a sampling of popular styles, all far superior to the industrial potions sold in supermarkets. Vary as you like. They are very difficult to ruin.
Doc’s Firecracker Celebration Sauce
3/4 cup Tennessee whiskey: Jack Daniel or George Dickel. Or, substitute amazing Still Pond C4 Bourbon for a taste of Georgia.
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 onion minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/4 cup Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
In a cast metal skillet over medium heat, add onion, garlic, and whiskey. Simmer for 10 minutes until the onion is translucent. Blend in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, brown sugar, tomato paste, liquid smoke, and Tabasco sauce.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Transfer to Mason jars. Refrigerate overnight.
South Carolina Barbecue Sauce
Chef Linda Rogers Weiss, Charleston
Note: Delicious on slow-cooked pulled pork or barbecued chicken.
1/2 cup yellow mustard
6 tbs sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbs butter
Combine all ingredients except soy and butter and simmer in saucepan for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and butter.
Pour into Mason jar for serving.
Smoky Coca-Cola Liberty Sauce
1 can (12 ounce size) Coca-Cola
1 1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbs. Dales cooking sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Tabasco sauce to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the sauce to a simmer and let cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the sauce thickens.
Cool and use or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a week.
Lone Star Brisket Sauce
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp yellow mustard
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not colored, about 3 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and mustard and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Heirloom Tomato Pie
Pam Swanner, Montgomery Alabama
Ms. Swanner, an accomplished Southern cook, is Director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association.
3 bunches of green onions
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
20 leaves of fresh basil
½ tsp salt
Ground fresh pepper to taste
12 oz. yogurt cheese
5 medium heirloom tomatoes (A variety selection/colors has eye appeal and the flavor is interesting)
3/4/ cup of mayo
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ to 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Double pie crust
Slice tomatoes between ¼ to ½ inch thick—spread on heavily paper toweled baking sheet—sprinkle with salt and cover with more layers of paper towels. Let drain for about an hour.
Chop onions, basil, oregano and toss together with salt and pepper; set aside
Grate yogurt cheese; set aside
Mix lemon juice with mayo; set aside
Preheat oven to 350 degrees making sure rack is in the middle position.
Coat lightly a 9-inch pie plate with shortening. Place one pie crust in plate. Thinly layer as follows until the tomatoes are used: tomatoes, basil mixture, yogurt cheese.
Top with mayo—spread evenly. Grate a layer of Parmesan on top. Place other crust on top and seal edges. With knife, cut several one-inch slices for vents.
Bake 45-60 minutes. Cool at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.
Soldier’s Joy Cole Slaw
Big O’s Georgia Kitchen, Atlanta
I medium cabbage, grated or finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 large bell pepper chopped fine
1 Vidalia onion chopped fine
1 Tsp. celery seed
1 package dry ranch dressing seasoning
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Combine ingredients, chill and serve.
Cold Blackberry Pie
Cortner Mill Restaurant, Normandy Tennessee
One of my favorite people on the planet, David Hazelwood is a minister, farmer, innkeeper, gourmet and accomplished raconteur. His home is conveniently located near two heritage distilleries, George Dickel and Jack Daniel.
(Serves 6 City folks or 3 Farm boys)
¾ Cup sugar
3 Tsp. cornstarch
1 Cup water
3 ½ Tsp blackberry or raspberry gelatin
4 Cups fresh blackberries
9” baked pie shell
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and water in saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Gently stir in blackberries. Pour mixture into pastry shell and chill in refrigerator until firm. Slice and garnish each slice with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 6.
Note: This is my favorite Fourth of July dessert. Blackberries have just ripened in Tennessee and this pie is so refreshing on a hot summer day. It’s adequate reward for picking the berries among the thorns and chiggers. In the fall use raspberries instead of blackberries.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!