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Pat Neely: In the South, we have a tradition of ushering recipes from era to era and family to family. Secret sauces are passed down from generation to generation. That’s certainly the case here. Our Barbecue Seasoning and Barbecue Sauce have evolved over time, and the versions that follow have benefited from the contributions of countless kin through the years. Now that we are passing our family secrets along to you, it’s your job to share them with others. We enjoy changing up recipes and seeing what happens, and we encourage you to do the same. Who knows? You may come up with a secret sauce or rub that’s better than our own! Of course, the keys to full-flavored barbecue–indeed, one of the keys to any great-tasting dish–are fresh ingredients and spices. Don’t be reaching in the back of the cupboard for some tired old tin of paprika. You want great ribs? Start with fresh spices. Everyone down South knows that a good grill seasoning (or “dry rub,” as it’s called in Memphis) begins with paprika. We use the basic paprika that is not labeled “sweet” or “hot.” The flavor is subtly sweet, rich, and yet mild, so it blends beautifully with grilled meats. Sugar and onion powder provide a sweet and savory counterpoint. Keep in mind that you will be cooking over charcoal and hickory (or your preferred wood), which will add tremendous flavor to the meat. For that reason, this seasoning blend is fairly simple and straightforward. For the best flavor, marinate the spice-rubbed meats overnight in the refrigerator, so they can absorb and “breathe in” the flavors.
- Stir together the ingredients in a small bowl. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, this seasoning will last for up to 6 months.
- We never salt our Barbecue Sauce because of the sodium content in the ketchup and because other ingredients like onion powder and Worcestershire sauce provide so much flavor. Since our sauce is mostly used on grilled items (that are seasoned) and combined with other foods (like Barbecue Spaghetti and Molasses-Baked Beans), we don’t want to end up with food that is too salty. So we err on the side of slightly underseasoning this sauce (although believe me, no one ever says that it lacks flavor). If your taste buds yearn for a little more salt, you can season the sauce–at the end of the cooking time–as you please.