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I don’t know about all of you guys, but whenever I go to a BBQ one of the things I look forward to the most is the grilled meat. Whatever it is! And what makes these cookouts for me is the sauce. If you are going to have sauce at a BBQ, it better be rockin’! The sauce keeps the meat moist but it also really transforms the whole meal. Now in my humble opinion and personal preference, I personally like sweeter sauces with my ribs or my chicken and the spicier sauces for brisket or meats that either have to be smoked or meats that have to be cooked low and slow for a long time. This is just me though.
I came into possession of an amazing Moroccan BBQ Sauce recipe years ago, developed by Charlie Trotter, which I believe has a great depth of flavor and lends a unique taste from the different spices than you would normally get from a traditional BBQ sauce (now we won’t go into the war of BBQ sauces within the different regions of the U.S. because they all have their merit for sure). However, as I reviewed the recipe before making a batch, I realized that maybe there were some ingredients that wouldn’t be as readily available to home cooks or would be too expensive to justify the cost for just a BBQ sauce. So I consulted my nifty Flavor Bible and opened up to Moroccan Cuisine and saw what ingredients are commonly used in Moroccan cooking… I happened to have quite a few substitute flavors in my spice cupboard that were:
More readily available for the home cook
More cost effective than what was in the original recipe
With the substitutions in the recipe that I made, I feel like I was able to stay true to the flavor and essence of Morocco without taking out a loan just to afford all of the ingredients (they’re really not that expensive but the price on some could serve as a deterrent).
What I found to be most helpful with this recipe is to tie the aromatics like: black peppercorn, cinnamon sticks, chile de arbol, and bay leaves, in a cheesecloth because I wanted the ginger, garlic, and preserved lemon to be in the sauce to give texture. If you just want just a smooth sauce with no fun additives in there, then I would suggest either putting everything that isn’t liquid in a cheesecloth OR strain the sauce after it’s done reducing. You’ll get maximum flavor either way but it’s just a matter of preference and application of the sauce.
Now you may be looking at the recipe and wondering HOW the heck do I make preserved lemons?! It’s truly, truly simple! I had wanted to do a tutorial for you all, which I might do still but here ya go:
You mix equal parts kosher salt and sugar together; quarter the lemons (being careful to not cut all the way through on one side) and pack said lemons with the salt/sugar mix; place the stuffed lemons WITH the remaining salt/sugar mix into a clean AND sterilized container until the container is completely fill and close with a lid; let the lemons stay out at room temperature for about a month and then place in the fridge afterwards. The salt and sugar will leech out the juice from the lemons and you’ll be able to use the rind in about a month.
But, if you wanted to use this sauce for 4th of July, let’s say, I would peel a lemon using a vegetable peeler and throw it into the sauce and discard once the sauce is complete.
Let me suggest some pairings for this sauce:
- It’s great with chicken on the grill. I used my George Foreman Grill because of apartment living but I was still able to achieve a nice little darkness on my chicken with I love with grilled meats. I would season my chicken with salt and pepper and then marinade it in some of the BBQ sauce for about an hour before grilling. So yummy!
- It also pairs well with salmon. I would bake mine in the oven with the sauce brushed on the meat. I would bake it skin-side-down at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and then afterwards, flip over to skin-side-up and broil on high for a few minutes just to crisp up the skin.
- If you wanted to do pork ribs, I would do them one of two ways:
- If doing them in the oven, I would season the ribs with salt and pepper, place them in a greased baking pan, cover with the sauce and cover the ribs with tin foil and bake for 350 degrees.
- If you want to do them in the crockpot, season the ribs like always and place on the low heat setting for 6-8 hours with the sauce all over them!
Of course, whatever meat you decide to pair this sauce with, I would highly suggest eating my Lemon Herb Potato Salad as part of your meal. It plays off of the flavors of the sauce so well.
Now make this sauce and thank me later! Bring this to your next BBQ or day at the beach to impress all of your friends with your unique and incredible BBQ sauce. Happy eating everyone!
- 2 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup distilled vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 each cinnamon sticks
- 3 each garlic cloves minced
- 3 each chile de arbol
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons dried cilantro
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorn
- 1/4 cup preserved lemon peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 each bay leaf
Using cheesecloth, gather the chiles, bay leaves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks and tie into a little bag using butchers twine.
Combine in a medium sized pot with the remainder of ingredients and bring up to a boil over medium high heat.
Reduce heat to medium low and let sauce reduce until it reaches a syrupy-like consistency, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely before storing
- If you wanted to opt for fresh cilantro in this recipe, I would substitute the 2 tablespoons for about a ½ bunch of cilantro and discard after the sauce is done.
- This recipe will keep for about a week in the fridge.