This week’s post comes from C. Hope Clark and her protagonist, Carolina Slade, from The Carolina Slade Mystery Series. It seems Hope and Slade both enjoy a hardy South Carolina BBQ, but then, who could resist a southern spread dripping with the state’s finest sauce whether it comes from mid-state or the Pee Dee region?
Slade’s South Carolina BBQ
By C. Hope Clark
When you write a series, you come to know the characters very well, down to what type of barbecue sauce they prefer. The Carolina Slade Mystery Series is set in various rural counties across South Carolina, and anyone from the region understands that four sauces define barbecue.
Barbecue in South Carolina is consistently pork, so when anyone references what kind of barbecue, they’re referencing the sauce.
Slade, as my main character likes to be called, is a far cry from a debutante and excels at sleuthing as a US Department of Agriculture investigator. She understands farming, and she loves her pork flavored with a mustard-based sauce.
The four sauces consist of mustard, vinegar pepper, light tomato and heavy tomato, but the majority of residents chow down on mustard-style barbecue. Residents understand that mustard defines the middle of the state, vinegar along the coast, light tomato in the northeast Pee Dee region, and heavy tomato in the northwestern section, but mustard is unofficially the signature flavor, originated by German settlers in the 1700s, a culture with an adoration for the yellow condiment.
You’ll find all sorts of variations where grill masters add items like peaches, apricot preserves, soy sauce, molasses, oregano, thyme, or celery seed, but the foundation for this sauce is as follows:
Slade’s South Carolina BBQ
1 ½ cup yellow mustard
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. tomato paste or tomato ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
Combine all ingredients, simmer low for 30 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Let the flavors combine for at least four hours. You can add to the meat during cooking as well as after for dipping. You can thin it or thicken it. Experiment on the amounts, depending on whether you lean to the tangy vinegar side (more vinegar) or the sweeter sugar side (more sugar or even honey, or dark brown instead of light brown sugar). But however you enjoy it, your tongue will smack your head silly and never let you go back to hickory sauce ever again.
For more on SC barbecue, go to http://bbq.discoversouthcarolina.com.
C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, with the latest being Palmetto Poison, set in the midlands of SC where the sauce is definitely mustard. www.chopeclark.com