When I decided to open River Road BBQ I never used BBQ sauce on my meats. They just don’t need it so I was not planning to make one to sell. My son Jonthought I was crazy (he still thinks that sometimes) and said “Pops this is Kentucky not Texas”. Knowing that I am not always right and my son sometimes is, I set out to make a BBQ sauce for our new business. Being a guy who is born in the 50’s I started to think about the times I would see President Lyndon Johnson having a BBQ for visiting Dignitaries at the White House or his ranch in Texas during the 60’s. Now I didn’t think that ole LBJ fixed all that BBQ himself so I decided to try to find out who was the caterer that did and see if he had a sauce recipe floating around the internet. It was not hard to find. His name was Walter Jetton and he sounded like quite a character. His story and sauce recipe is on the www.amazingribs.com website. I made Walter’s sauce and it was pretty good but it tasted more like a 60’s steak sauce to me than a BBQ sauce so I decided to use it as a base and see where it took me.
I started to play around with Walter’s recipe, took out the butter, bay leaves and celery, put in more onion, garlic, canola oil and substituted brown sugar for the white. I thought it tasted better but still too bland so from there I started to play with some heat. Tried it with jalapeño, habanero and serrano but it didn’t have the depth of flavor I desired. Next came chipotles in adobo sauce. This created the heat level I was looking for and added a smokey depth with the adobo that went great with pulled pork, brisket and ribs so I saw no need to create another. I understand that someone may have a favorite sauce but as the cook and proprietor it is my job to serve a product that I think is the best. I have always felt that too many choices are not a good thing.
Over the years we have created some different sauces for specific meats but the base of those sauces are our house sauce. A couple of examples are adding sour cream to our base sauce (before we add the water) for tacos and mixing our sauce with spicy brown mustard for our smoked bologna sandwiches.
If you are wanting to make your own BBQ sauce there are hundreds of recipes online that can get you started but I urge you to find one that you can use for a base and from there see where it takes you.