Chocolate Chile Barbecue Sauce. Yes, You Read That Right.
"'Put a sock in it' [is] Gourmet chef slang for 'Needs more flavor.'" The cartoon strip Mr. Boffo by Joe Martin
This sauce has the classic taste profile of all the most popular barbecue sauces, sweet, tart, and slightly spicy, but with a wonderful twist: The seductive taste of chocolate. If it sounds weird, well, it is a bit weird, but I'm here to tell you it works. And don't worry, it is not too hot. Of course you can make it hotter if you want...
The idea came from, of all places, Charleston, SC. Charleston is emerging as one of the hottest restaurant cities in the nation with creative chefs, many with classic roots, putting modern spins on traditional Southern Cuisine. Chef Ciaran Duffy worked there for many years at Tristan where he developed a Chocolate Chile Barbecue Sauce. I ordered a bottle and loved it, but alas, when Duffy moved west to become the executive chef at the Marriott Del Mar near San Diego, Tristan stopped bottling it. So I created my own recipe.
This concoction clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with Southern barbecue sauce traditions which tend to be vinegary, or Charleston which is in the mustard based barbecue sauce belt. Its components are really Caribbean, where the word barbecue originated, Mexican, where chocolate and vanilla come from, Floridian and Brazilian, which produce more oranges than anybody, South American, where tomatoes originated, and Central America, where chile peppers were first discovered. So what could be more far Southern than a blend of them? It is a bit of a novelty, but a darn good one.
How to use it? I love it on pork ribs and even meatloaf, not so much on other beef products. So I need you to make a batch, try it, and let me know on which foods you like it. But let it stand alone. If you put it on pork ribs, just salt the meat. Skip the herb and spice rubs.
Makes. A bit more than 2 cups of sauce
Takes. 45 minutes
Keeps. Because it has a high acid and sugar content, it can keep for months in the refrigerator.
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
About the cocoa. I use Hershey's Natural Unsweetened. Click here to learn more about chocolate and the different types in my article on the Science of Chocolate.
1) Mix the sugar and water in a pan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
2) Paint it on your ribs. One layer is all that is needed. If you wish, put the sauced ribs over high heat to caramelize the sugars a bit, but watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Then, for a festive touch, grate some orange zest on top. Serve it with a big red wine.