When it comes to barbecue or goodies from the grill or smoker for the Fourth of July, Oklahoma sauces are the perfect addition and are abundant. Whether you rub, marinate, brine or oven roast, there is a sauce that is sure to make that meat course even better. Some are hot, some are sweet, and others are both. Some are super smoky and others not so much.
If you follow me around any grocery or market, you know that I'm always on the lookout for good stuff made or produced locally. Oklahoma barbecue sauces come in about every flavor and essence you can imagine.
All the sauces seem to start with ketchup, and like dozens if not a hundred varieties of ketchup, there must be close to that in the number of barbecue sauces made in Oklahoma. I found six bottles of Oklahoma barbecue sauce in my cabinet and several from across the Red River that my son-in-law had given me.
I'm going to have to do some serious cooking for company to use up all those sauces. I've not considered myself a master of the pit or grill or even close. I do love to be related to — or friends with — folks who do a great job of cooking on a grill or smoker.
My earliest memories of meat cooked outside were of going out into the woods to cut hickory to use in the half pit and half grill my dad constructed into a slope in our backyard. The grown-ups had steaks, and hot dogs were for the younger crowd. We produced our own beef and chickens, and mother made her version of barbecue sauce that was tomato-patch thin.
Mama's sauce was great for mopping onto the meat and loaded with sweet onions that sort of melted in your mouth. She might have included a little honey or brown sugar in the sauce, but it was not much like the thick sauces we find today.
Choosing a barbecue sauce without reading the label can be risky. Most sauces start with ketchup, and the ketchup itself can have a variety of ingredients. Worcestershire sauce is often added to barbecue sauces. It can even contain anchovies. Who would have thought those little critters would be contributing a common layer of flavor to barbecue sauce?
Head Country has been producing barbecue sauce since 1947, and the company knows its stuff. My favorite is the hickory, but Head Country has a reliable regular sauce as well as a hot one for you folks who like to sweat a little. If you are ever in Ponca City with a hankering for barbecue, stop by Head Country. Their sauces are widely available in groceries across the state, and their website has a wealth of barbecue information.