I am still working on perfecting a barbecue sauce for the upcoming graduation party. My last version of the Honey Hog sauce was very good, but after repeated tastings it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. I ended up cutting it 50/50 with cider vinegar and will use it as a finishing sauce when I reheat the pork.
Rather than continue to tweak existing recipes, I started from scratch. I wanted a “Gee-wiz! Woosh-bang!” kind of sauce that could just about knock the bun off. I decided that the key to getting this is the sweet/tart flavor of the pomegranate molasses and the way it complements rich, smoky meats. This recipe lets it take the starring role.
2 cups raw or dark brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup (Karo, not the high-fructose stuff)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine sugar, syrup, paste, vinegar, Worcestershire, molasses and salt. Wisk to combine. Bring to a boil (careful as it will foam up and bite you). Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. This is your sauce base. If it doesn’t taste great, the rest of the ingredients aren’t going to save it. Taste for sweetness, acid, umami, and salt. Adjust accordingly.
Turn the heat off and add the garlic, chili powder, paprika, pepper, onion, vanilla, cayenne, sage, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, and cumin. Wisk to combine.
Bring to a boil again then reduce heat to lowest setting and let sauce cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Bottle and store in the fridge. Makes about 1 quart.
I’ll wait until after the party to give a final verdict on this sauce, but the initial tasting went really well. This is a syrupy sauce, but despite all the sugar, it has a lighter mouth feel than you would expect. The tang of the vinegar and pomegranate molasses help even the taste out, and there is just enough heat and spice to make it interesting.
I’ll let you know what the crowd has to say.
We have a winner!
I got the pulled pork and the Pomegranate Pig sauce all set up for the graduation party and then left to go get dressed. By the time I got back the work crew and the graduate-to-be were happily performing quality checks and declared that the pork was wonderful and the barbecue sauce was the “best I’ve ever tasted.” 🙂
Everyone LOVED the Pomegranate Pig sauce – people were putting it on the hot dogs, stirring it into in the baked beans, and even squirting it on their fingers and then licking them off. I take that all as a good sign.
The sauce was thick, sweet, tangy, and complex. The sweetness hit first, but it wasn’t heavy and was quickly replaced by the pomegranate’s fruity tang. The herbs and spices followed with a nice black pepper note in the middle and some lingering heat at the end. I was afraid all the sweetness might make it a one-hit-wonder, but this stuff sang like a a full orchestra.
All-in-all, great party, had a good time and am glad everyone liked the pulled pork, but am also glad I’ve got about 8 years before I need to do another one of these ;).