On Sunday, I officially enter my 30s. Society tells me this is the time for self deprecation, misery, inadequacy, crow's feet and regret. That's not going to work for me. 

I have no interest in nibbling a sliver of birthday cake because of where it may end up on my body. I'm not going to wither into depression because I haven't yet eaten my weight in curry in Singapore or learned a second language fluently.

Thirty is not a deadline; it's a rest stop (not in a dirty bathroom kind of way). It's just a place where you take a breath to realize how far you've come, how far you have yet to go, and perhaps do a little people watching, because, as you know, the freaks come out in full force at rest stops.

So, instead of self-loathing, I've decided to go with acceptance… and barbecue. It's kind of impeccable timing due to my recent perfection of my favorite homemade barbecue sauce. Now I have no choice but to put it on EVERYTHING.  Chicken, steaks, pulled pork, cereal. There is no better way to celebrate than being elbow deep in barbecue and licking its delectable sauce from your fingers.

It's inaugural debut came with grilled chicken, my first grilling experience of the season since we exited the comically rainy winter a few weeks ago. I danced around the grill like my pants were on fire in anticipation of slathering the beautifully charred and smoky chicken with this spicy and sweet chile-packed sauce.

The second it hit my plate, I tore it apart like a Walking Dead extra. I dipped, sloshed, and swiped until there was nothing left. I scoured every millimeter of the chicken bones in search of every tiny bit of meat just so I could justify eating more sauce without it looking like I was eating a condiment for dinner. But, soon enough, I ran out of chicken morsels, and so I just said, "fuck it" and started to lick the plate,… then my fingers,… then the spoon,… then the pan. Cleaning up after dinner was never easier.

I am not ashamed of my bbq-stained crow's feet. It's a damn good sauce. Happy birthday to me.

Triple Chile Barbecue Sauce Recipe

4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 small Asian chiles (or 1 whole small jalapeno), chopped
2 1/4 tsp hot paprika
2 tbsp grainy mustard
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 c filtered water (veggie stock would be good here, too)
3/4 c apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp dark brown sugar

Notes for your perusal

As you go through the method for this recipe, you'll see the words "food processor" and "puree", but don't let that frighten you. If you don't have a food processor/blender/immersion blender, that does not mean that this recipe is out of reach. Just mince the onion, garlic and chile instead of casually chopping. Then you'll have no need to puree it.

For the barbecue sauce

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7m.

Add the garlic, chiles, all the spices and tomato paste. Cook for another 5m or so while stirring occasionally until tomato paste begins to caramelize and the spices become fragrant. 

Stir in water, vinegar and sugar. Let cook on low simmer for 15m or so until thickened.

Let cool slightly, then puree using a blender, food processor or immersion blender. When pureeing, I pulse the sauce only a few times to leave a few discernible bits of garlic, onion and chile. Gives the sauce a great texture, while still being sauce-like. 

Store in a glass jar, or other airtight container, in the fridge for about a week (longer if in the freezer). 

3 thoughts on “triple chile barbecue sauce

    1. Hi Jenny – If you like spicy food, then the heat will be at a good level for you. If you want to reduce the heat, use a sweet or smoked paprika instead of a hot one and omit the cayenne pepper.

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