Growing up, I was never a fan of barbecued chicken. That changed when I had it on one of the Lake Erie Islands, while my family was visiting some friends of my parents. I was probably about 7, and enchanted that we had to take a ferry to reach the island, and that I was going to play with kids who I was sure lived a Swiss Family Robinson life. The ground work was laid for me to like the bbq chicken we had for dinner, even though I never had before. Now I grimace at the thought of bbq chicken, but bbq sauce has very happy connotations for me.
Now we have bbq all the time, and this sauce is my most recent creation. Crushed pineapple gives the sauce a slightly tangy sweetness, that is perfectly balanced by the whiskey. This makes enough sauce for 1 pound of seitan, tofu, tempeh, or 6 large portobello mushrooms. For the photo, I used marinated seitan, which was smoked for yet another layer of flavor. The sauce freezes well, so double the batch for easy summer eating.
Pineapple Jack BBQ Sauce
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
- 1/4 cup Jack Daniels Whiskey
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 3/4 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
Heat the oil, onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the remaining ingredients and decrease the heat to low. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and process until smooth. If you prefer, use an immersion blender to create a smooth sauce.
Now for Jim, with the beer note.
Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout states on the label that it is fermented in stone Yorkshire squares, and has received medals as far back as 1896. Badass. I love old breweries and wineries; maybe because in the US, nothing is all that old and secure. I think Yuengling markets itself as America’s oldest brewery, and those guys pale in comparison (literally and figuratively) to the fine old Tadcaster brewery of Samuel Smith. I’m a fan of dark beer, not of the over-hopped rice beers (that meet quantity not quality standards) sold in the U.S.
One of the great US movements in beer are quality microbeweries; Magic Hat of Burlington, Vermont, Great Lakes of Cleveland, Ohio, and Allagash of Portland, Maine are some of my favorites. But we copy those guys we originally tea partied, before that term got rinsed and washed with just-say-no rhetoric and solutionless bickering, and in many ways we trail Great Britain’s finest beer makers. They’ve been getting it right for a long, long time.
Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout is thick and deep, malty and complex. It tastes like browns and grains and home and has a thick top end that finesses in far more detail than Guiness (Note: not all Guiness are vegan). And against the barbecued seitan with pineapple jack sauce, the beer followed each bite like a chaser with heart and soul. For me, its like going to Burlington, Vermont or Asheville, NC (my two favorite environments) with my best friend. This combo should be on everyone’s once-in-a-lifetime to do list, and I consider myself fortunate that I will have many more opportunities to match these two perfect companions.