Spice up your meat with barbecue sauce recipes

Sometimes ketchup isn't enough and mustard doesn't cut the mustard. The secret to a successful cookout involves creating barbecue sauce recipes that combine the sweet with the heat and offer the perfect condiment for that char-grilled burger or pork chop. Remember, a great sauce can even make amends for an overcooked sausage.

American expertise

Sure the meat matters, but if charcoal has been a little too fierce, your charred offerings from that patio barbecue can still be rescued by a decent sauce.You can opt for shop-bought versions, but it is more satisfying to create your own.

In the USA, spiritual home of the barbecue, there is a whole science of creating barbecue sauce recipes. You don't have to get too serious about it, but follow a few basic rules and you can create some delicious and aromatic sauces. It makes sense to look to the States for inspiration.

As a general rule, simmer sauces for at least half an hour, tasting and adjusting the flavours as you cook. Remember that the flavours will intensify after the sauce is left to cool and thicken.

A Carolina-style barbecue sauce takes much of its flavour from cider vinegar and mustard powder. Sugar, soy sauce and a little chilli and cayenne add the sweet heat. Americans add "liquid smoke" hickory flavouring. If you can find it in the Uk, use sparingly as it is powerful stuff.

For spare ribs, a barbecue sauce serves as both marinade and condiment. Ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar form the basis of the sauce, flavoured with a little dry mustard, garlic and a slug of bourbon.

Less is more

The secret of the best barbecue sauce recipes is to create such an intensity of flavour that you only need a little sauce on the side of the plate rather than slathered over the meat. If you use the best quality meat for your barbecue, the sauce will be able to complement the flavour rather than disguise it.

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