Tang with a Twang: Texas BBQ Sauce

by Rebecca Matheson Ortiz, Tastemaker in Residence

If you’re the type of person who puts sauce on your BBQ, don’t you dare reach for anything that’s white, yellow or clear. That’s just not right. If you’re going to sauce it, you better reach for the rusty red stuff that slathers perfectly onto a slab of beef brisket, complementing the smoky, deliciously fatty meat with tangy, sweet and spicy flavor of the Lone Star State’s tomato-based sauces.

Those other guys, they don’t even compare. We take our BBQ seriously in Texas, and this sauce is the only type worth “ruining” beautifully smoked and flavorful meat with. In many recipes, the sweet comes from ketchup and a bit of brown sugar, the tangy comes from vinegar or lemon juice, the spice comes from a dash of cayenne and chili powder and the magic come from Worcestershire sauce, butter and garlic. Some of the best sauces even mix in a hunk of the seasoned, rendered fat from the brisket, making meat’s perfect match.

While brisket is clearly the way to go, this sauce goes great on all the meat: Chicken, turkey, pork, mutton and even goat all cowboy up to the job. And, if your meat takes a tragic turn, this sauce can save it, as the flavor is pretty powerful.  

My favorite BBQ joint is The Brisket House, a local Houston establishment that’s making waves with their 6oz special. This is served with your choice of meat (get brisket, just do it), a hunk of cheddar cheese, half an onion, a giant dill pickle and a couple of slices of bread all on traditional butcher paper in lieu of a plate. They have a warm pail of the tangy-sweet goodness ready for ladling onto dishes that is the just-right flavor, consistency and spice level. I split it 50/50 on if I use sauce on the meat or not—generally if I decide to eat it like a sandwich, I’ll slop sauce all over, but if I eat the meat as-is, I tend to go sauce-free. But oh, dipping those fatty burnt ends in just a dab of it, amazing.     

So if you’re looking for a good sauce to take your BBQ to the next level, reach for the bottle of Texas-style (or make your own: www.tasteofhome.com has a great recipe) and savor every last finger-lickin’ drop!