Something that I learned long ago was when the smoker is smoking, you take advantage. There is not technically infinite smoke, there is enough smoke for anything that you put in that smoker. You win some and you lose some, but when you fire it up, you had better have already thought about what you wanted to infuse with delicious pecan hull and bourbon barrel smoke.
With a request to smoke a few things for a friend, I had little time to think, so there were a few items that I knew that I wanted to repeat (pickled red onions, oats), but there was one item that I knew that I wanted to try based on a simple pork rib sampled seven months ago in South Carolina.
No surprise it was Sean Brock who served up a skillet filled with spare ribs slathered in Smoked Peach BBQ sauce at Husk. Given the VanWinkle that was flowing that night, the basis for the sauce eludes me to this day, but given the fact that it sticks out in my mind as an amazing dish among many sampled that night pushed me to try it.
Now I know sauce is seen as a weakness to many pitmasters. As an accompaniment that is both unnecessary and ruinous to great BBQ, but I am of the mind that the right BBQ sauce can enhance great BBQ. It might not need it, but like the last bite of Allie Levitt’s shortbread, I don’t need it, but it kind of makes everything better. But I digress…
So with the details hazy from that evening, it was up to me to determine the regional leaning of the sauce. Given the local from which the sauce was inspired, I opted for the Carolina Gold route. A mustard and vinegar-based sauce that ranks among my favorite all purpose sauces for meat and veg alike. I had been approximating the sauce with Rick’s Pick Smokra brine and ballpark mustard, but this does one better.
After cold smoking the peaches for twelve hours over pecan hulls and bourbon barrel wood, I simmered them in vinegar and spices until the peaches basically fell apart. The peaches and brine were combined with mustard and pureed until smooth. I had to taste and adjust seasoning a few times. The flavors are pretty wild – like spoonfuls-of-BBQ-sauce-from-the-fridge wild.
Unlike ketchup or other red gloopy sauces, Carolina gold does not overwhelm. It enhances. You are not masking the taste of the BBQ, but the acid and salt in the salt, now complemented by the subtle sweetness of the peaches, put a boost in some great pulled pork. In this case, I took the easy (and smart) way out and outsourced my pork production to Smoque BBQ, here in Chicago.
The finished product was a beautiful gold color and brightness was not limited to appearance. The vinegar and mustard were not overwhelmed by the sweet, smokiness of the peaches, but were enhanced to be better than the sum of its parts. While good straight from the spoon, it was a fantastic addition to the smoky, bark-laden pulled pork. Ordinarily, sitting down with a giant plate of BBQ, I would need no enhancement, but I found that I enjoyed the pulled pork more and ate less of it because of the sauce. Ideas began to flow about non-meat dishes to add this to – rutabaga, green beans and yes, the brussel sprout.
Indeed, while every time I fire up the cold smoker, I put on red onions for smoking then pickling and oats for smoking, I will now be adding a few peaches because this smoked peach BBQ sauce will be a staple in the refrigerator door full of sauces.
- 3 smoked peaches
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 cup yellow mustard
- Salt to taste
Step one: Pour mustard in a blender canister. Simmer remaining ingredients until the peaches soften. Let cool. Combine ingredients in blender.
Step two: Blend until smooth.
Step three: Taste. Adjust seasoning.
Make one quart sauce.