Roasted Apricot BBQ Sauce

This week I learned that barbecue sauce is easy to make, open to interpretation, and freezes beautifully. Similar to applesauce, there's just no reason to eat the store-bought stuff when homemade tastes so much better. With that said, the first and only time I tried to make BBQ sauce was a couple of years ago and it was a solid fail. The process felt like it took forever and the end product didn't taste very good (looking back at my notes I can see why). I'm probably sending mixed messages here but stick with me.

To celebrate the long weekend, I decided to give BBQ sauce another go. With my previous failure in mind, it seemed like a sensible idea to use some gorgeous stone fruit I had picked up at the farmers market. No potential for heartbreaking waste in that scenario. Fortunately I'm older and wiser and the sauce turned out to be really delicious. I put it on my favorite crust for the 4th of July since nothing says "Happy Birthday, America" like BBQ chicken pizza.

Recipe

Experiment

I highly recommend experimenting with barbecue sauce recipes. I added waaaay too many spices in my first attempt (mentioned above) and the flavor was the equivalent of mixing too many paint colors together - a muddy mess. However, swapping ingredients instead of piling can lead to magical combinations. A few ideas include:

  • Roasted peaches instead of apricots
  • Fresh ginger
  • Using all fresh tomatoes and dropping the ketchup
  • Chipotle
  • Cumin
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Coffee - If it's good for mole...
  • Bourbon or Whiskey

Make Ahead

To make this recipe even easier, roast the apricots in advance and then freeze or refrigerate them until you're ready to make the sauce. Also, the sauce's flavor benefits from a night in the refrigerator.

Tools

Apricots at Frog Hollow Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market

Ingredients (makes about 2 3/4 cups of sauce)

Roast

  • 1 lb fresh apricots, halved and pitted (weighed after prep) Note: This should yield about 1 cup after roasting.
  • 2 tbsp honey Note: Agave could be subbed to make this dish vegan. Reduce the amount to 1 tbsp.

Sweat

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 jalapeño, small chop Note: The heat is mainly in the ribs and seeds so adjust accordingly if you're sensitive to that.
  • 1 cup onion, small chop (about 1/2 of a medium onion)
  • 1/2 tsp flake-style salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed (3/4 tsp packed)
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Simmer

  • 1 cup roasted apricots (already mentioned under the "roasting" section)
  • 1 large tomato (about 8 oz), cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup honey Note: Brown sugar can be substituted to make this dish vegan. You may need to adjust up a little so taste the sauce as you go.
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup organic ketchup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce Note: If you're sensitive to heat, back this down to 1 tsp then adjust up as desired.
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp flake-style salt
  • A few cranks of freshly ground pepper, adjust to taste

Instructions

Roast

  • Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 375.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then lay a piece of parchment paper on top of that. Note: The parchment paper is important since roasted apricots are delicate and tend to stick.
  • Place your halved apricots on the parchment and drizzle with honey. Gently toss to coat, then turn all of the fruit over so it's flesh-side down.
  • Roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours and check on things in 30-minute intervals to make sure the fruit is cooking evenly. Your apricots should be wrinkly and slightly dehydrated but not burned. Note: I've noticed that sometimes the honey and/or juice surrounding the apricots starts to look charred even though the fruit is perfectly fine. This normally happens towards the end of roasting so just make sure the undersides of the apricots are ok.
  • Transfer the apricots to a bowl and set aside.
  • This is the point at which you can stop, refrigerate or freeze your roasted fruit, and proceed with the final steps on a different day.

Sweat

  • Heat the olive oil and butter over medium in a Dutch oven or similar pot. Note: The larger pot helps contain any splattering.
  • Add the onion, jalapeño, and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Stir to coat, reduce the heat, and then cover for 10 minutes. Stir the onion once or twice.
  • Remove the cover and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture is very soft and starting to caramelize.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the garlic and chili powder, stirring constantly until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  • Turn off the heat and add the rest of your ingredients.
  • Tip the pan and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.

Simmer

  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes to marry the flavors.
  • If the sauce isn't thick enough at the end of 20 minutes, remove the lid and simmer it down until the consistency is to your liking. Note: The sauce in the photo had an extra 15 minutes of simmering but timing will vary depending on the juiciness of your tomato and apricots.

Storage

Refrigerate the barbecue sauce overnight in an airtight container to marry the flavors. The sauce can chill for a few days in the refrigerator or you can freeze it.

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