April is a month of celebrations in my family with birthdays and anniversaries, but perhaps the most anticipated celebration is the annual Texas State Championship Fiddler’s Frolics and Barbecue Cook-off always the fourth weekend in April. My uncles and dad started the barbecue cook-off portion of the event more than 30 years ago after years of competing in chili cook-offs and we’ve had family representation every year since.
In the months leading up to April, the practicing and perfecting of recipes begins. Between brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage, beans, sauce and gumbo, we’ve had success in almost every category. After years of not placing in the brisket category, we’ve finally perfected our recipe and placed 9th in 2013 and 3rd in 2014. One of our first place wins came about 25 years ago in the sauce category. My dad’s original sauce recipe came from a 1960’s BBQ cookbook. He has modified and perfected his recipe to our family’s taste buds, and we love it, but the recipe hasn’t placed in many years. This of course led to years of unsuccessful experimenting for the cook-off. We began questioning everything we were doing. Do we puree the sauce or leave it chunky, do we add mustard or not, does it need a little sweetness, do we use brown sugar or molasses? The options were only limited by our imaginations.
Last month my dad was prepping some pork ribs for Sunday lunch, and I decided to take a stab at cooking pinto beans. As I was preparing the beans, bbq sauce came to mind. I pulled out my dad’s recipe and the wheels began to turn in my head. What if I could lighten up the recipe and possibly recreate my dad’s award-winning sauce. This particular recipe that I came up with uses my dad’s original recipe but lightens it up by using less oil and adding a little brown sugar. This bbq sauce is relatively thin with a tangy taste. The color is beautiful and the consistency is perfect to use on any barbecued meat or just to add a little tang to your beans.