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Upscale homemade sauces make the perfect topping

  • Contra Costa Times
  • Published Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at 8:49 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at 9:01 a.m.

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Enter our recipe contest to win Hank Williams Jr. tickets

We’re collecting readers’ favorite grilling and barbecuing recipes for The Wichita Eagle Ribfest Recipe Contest, and Wednesday is the last day to enter.

•  How to enter: Click on the link under “Editors’ Picks” at Kansas.com to access the contest, where you can submit a complete original or adapted grilling or barbecue recipe by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

•  Grand prize: One winner, selected by random drawing, will win loge box tickets for four to country star Hank Williams Jr.’s concert, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena. He or she also will win a pair of tickets to Ribfest and will be invited to be an official Ribfest judge. Ribfest judging is 4 p.m. Thursday in Lot D, a city-managed parking lot east of Intrust Bank Arena at 777 E. Waterman. If the winner is unable to attend the Ribfest judging, a second random drawing will take place to select a new judge.

The first 10 people to enter and 10 randomly selected entrants will win a pair of tickets to Ribfest, Thursday-Saturday.

Find complete rules and details at Kansas.com.

If you go

Wichita Ribfest

What: A rib-tasting and music event put on by Intrust Bank Arena

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday

Where: City Lot D, 777 E. Waterman

How much: Gate admission is $4, free for children 12 and under. Half-price admission is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free with a Wichita River Festival button. Food costs extra.

See Friday’s GO! section for more about the event.

APRICOT BOURBON MUSTARD

Makes four 6-ounce jars.

The better the bourbon, the better the mustard. Adapted by Eden Israel from “Gifts Cooks Love” by Diane Morgan (Sur La Table, 2010).

1 cup brown mustard seeds

1 cup bourbon

1 cup water

1 cup packed, chopped dried apricots

5 tablespoons cider vinegar

5 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Put the mustard seeds in a bowl, pour in bourbon and water, and soak overnight.

Add the apricots and soak for another 12 hours.

Strain mixture and reserve liquid.

In a food processor, pulse all ingredients to desired consistency, adding remaining liquid as needed.

Distribute among clean jars, wiping rims and securing lids. Best refrigerated for at least 2 weeks to allow the flavors to develop and mature. It will thicken as it sits. Keeps up to 3 months.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — May 16, 2012

MALT VINEGAR AIOLI

Makes 2 cups.

This recipe comes from Michael Dotson, chef at the Martins West Gastropub in California.

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

3 egg yolks

1 cup canola oil

1 cup fruity olive oil

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

Make sure all ingredients are room temperature before beginning.

Place the mustard, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and egg yolks in a bowl. Place the bowl on top of a towel to stabilize it, and slowly whisk in the canola and then the olive oil in a thin steady stream.

Once the mixture reaches a thick mayonnaise consistency, add malt vinegar and adjust seasoning, if needed.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — May 16, 2012

LB STEAK SAUCE

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

This recipe comes from Ryan Ellison, chef at LB Steak in California.

1 cup ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 clove crushed garlic

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick, 30 to 45 minutes.

Pour the sauce into a blender and blend till smooth. Season if needed with salt and pepper. For a finer, smoother sauce push it through a fine-mesh sieve with a spatula. Store in refrigerator.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — May 16, 2012

MANGO MINT DIPPING SAUCE

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

This recipe comes from Quynh Nguyen, chef at Little Green Cyclo in California.

1/2 cup mango, peeled, chopped

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon curry

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons finely chopped mint

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of fresh ground pepper

Heat chopped mango and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, honey, orange peel, cayenne pepper and curry. Cool to room temperature.

Mix mayonnaise, mint and mango mixture in a food processor. Season with salt and black pepper.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — May 16, 2012

ORIGEN KETCHUP

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Customize this recipe from Trace Leighton of the Origen in California to suit your taste. Sweeten it with brown sugar or honey instead of white sugar, or play with the spices, adding garlic, allspice or crushed red chiles.

2 cups tomato sauce

1/2 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 cups water

1/4 onion, pureed

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine tomato sauce and paste, sugar, water, onion and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add cloves, salt, pepper and cayenne, and simmer for 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced and the consistency of ketchup.

Adjust seasonings as needed, adding more sugar if it’s too tart and more vinegar if it is too sweet. Cool and store in refrigerator up to 3 months.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — May 16, 2012

It isn’t a backyard cookout without a trifecta of condiments — the elongated red, squat yellow and plump white containers. They’re intended to add zip, zing and zest but somehow, no matter where you go, they’re almost always the same. And every squirt of those ubiquitous plastic squeeze bottles offers a reminder that no matter how much effort you’ve put into building a better burger, you’ve phoned it in on the finishing touches.

If you’re the type to make your burgers from grass-fed beef and potato salad with heirloom spuds, busting out the plastic squeeze bottles for a meal like that is like decorating a pair of Jimmy Choos with those plastic thingamajigs for Crocs.

Perhaps this is the year to give the heave-ho to Heinz and its commercial compatriots and make your own condiments. In other words, become the boss of your own sauce.

And when it comes to homemade spreads and sauces, chefs are leading the charge — and we’re not just talking aioli and mayo.

Although it may seem a little early to start thinking about summer grilling, now’s the time to make condiments, especially the ones with more complexity — like ketchup and mustard — so the flavors have time to marry before you serve them.

Mustard is a great place to start because it’s simple to make and easy to tailor to taste. A basic recipe uses either mustard seeds or dried, powdered mustard soaked in liquid — water, vinegar, beer or wine — combined with other spices and seasonings.

Ketchup-making requires more time and effort, but the payoff is that you can make a sauce with more intense, complex flavors than store-bought without using highly processed ingredients, such as high-fructose corn syrup, which is commonly used to sweeten commercially made ketchups.

Of course, store-bought ketchup is so ubiquitous, some people may find the homemade version takes some getting used to. DIY ketchup tends to be less sweet, and its texture is not quite as smooth as, say, Heinz.

You also can make ketchup with canned tomato paste or tomato puree, which is a great way to play with seasonings and spices to find a flavor profile you like, before trying it with fresh tomatoes when they come into season this summer.

Of course, tomatoes aren’t the only condiment inspiration around. Mangoes are in season right now, and they can be used to make memorable condiments, too.

Whether for dipping or drizzling, seasoning or slathering, making your own condiments can turn something as simple as burgers on the grill into a memorable and personal meal. No squeeze bottles required.

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