Emerald City Dragonfire BBQ Sauce Recipe
Making BBQ sauce from scratch is a great way to do two things: 1) Have fun cooking something incredibly easy, and 2) Gain direct control of the ingredients you want to use. Many store-bought sauces have a ton of sugar and/or chemicals and preservatives that you don’t want.
Our Seattle version here is North Carolina + Italy + Korea. We like the vinegar they use in North Carolina BBQ and the heat of some Asian influence. We also significantly reduce the amount of sweetness a lot of sauces have. We tend to prefer less sweet food plus it helps the cooking process as sugar tends to burn faster when grilling.
Emerald City Dragonfire BBQ Sauce
2 cups tomato puree
1 cup water
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup Bourbon
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp molasses
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon gochujang or gochujaru (Korean red spice powder or paste)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Dash chili flakes (use more to add spice)
Dash of Cayenne (use more to add spice)
Salt and pepper
Step 1: Release the aromatics
This is the most laborious step but you get to practice your knife skills! Finely chop the onion and garlic. Then, using a pot such as a Dutch over, over medium-low heat, cook the onions and garlic slowly for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. You want them nicely browned (but not burned). Once they are tender, browned, and smelling incredible, deglaze the pot with the Bourbon. If you’re brave, this is where you flambé it. Be careful (and do NOT run your oven fan when there’s a flame)! Once the fire dies down, stir and go to the next step.
Step 2: Build the base
Many recipes just call for ketchup, which you could use. But what we’re doing here is essentially making ketchup from scratch. It’s a well-scented adventure. Add the tomato puree to the pot and stir. Then add some salt and pepper at this stage too and reduce the liquid. Leave it simmer for 30-45 minutes until it thickens but still pourable. What you’ve just made is similar to foundations of many Italian dishes.
Step 3: Amp up the flavor
Next is the kitchen sink phase. Just start throwing the rest of the ingredients into the sauce base. Go nuts. It’s good to keep the amounts somewhat consistent, but if you feel like upping the sweetness, booziness, spice, do so here. If you reduced the liquid too much, you may need to add some water at this stage to allow it to mix and mingle. Simmer and whisk for about 30-45 minutes more, give or take, until you reduce it to the thickness/thinness you desire.
Step 4: Use it!
When you’re happy with the flavor and liquidity, take it off the heat and let it cool. This sauce makes both a great marinade and a great sauce on the side.
It’s got all the components: sweet + salty + spicy + smoky + acid. We use this sauce for many foods. Our favorite, though, is on baby back ribs. It tenderizes and flavors the meat overnight and then pairs perfectly after they come off the grill.
Good luck and let us know what you try this on!