It never fails. When August arrives people around here start talking about summer being over. OVER! I admit, I’ve been guilty of this terrible behaviour as well. Letting the dread of blistery wintery days cloud my mind instead of enjoying the hot sun. But we still have so much time left – summer doesn’t officially end until September – what are we worrying about? Granted, our little capital city has had many an August where the days are filled with rain and we’re lucky if we get to temperatures even close to 20°C. But this year, I believe mother nature has finally given this city a break from August gloom and showers.
So to make the most of our remaining weeks of summer, let’s go forth and barbecue as often as we can. Summer is a time to indulge in wonderfully vinegary coleslaws, sunny conversations with friends, sweet corn on the cob, sandy beaches, and grilled meat dripping with sticky BBQ sauce. Not a time to dread the impending chill of winter. There will be no more mention of summer’s end until I see the leaves falling from the trees.
I’ve given you a recipe for a barbecue sauce before: sticky and thick with balsamic vinegar and a usual BBQ sauce addition, ketchup. But this one may be different from those you’re used to. It’s base is made up mostly of mustard and fruit. Mustard-based BBQ sauce may sound unusual, but it’s the staple slather for meat in South Carolina. If you’ve grown to adore the smoky molasses and ketchup-based BBQ sauces, you may shy away from such a tangy sauce, but don’t knock mustard-based ones until you’ve tried them. Typically these types of BBQ sauces taste best basted on pork dishes (tenderloin, shoulder, chops…bacon…so on) and grilled chicken. You could really try this anywhere you’d use your regular BBQ sauce though – perhaps on top of your burger or basted on a juicy steak.
This sauce was developed on a day I had originally planned on making a peach-based BBQ sauce. But as per usual, the plan was quickly changed when I discovered all the peaches were unappetizingly not ripe. Lucky me the apricots right next to them were calling my name. I picked up as many as I could hold. Some to snack on, some for salads, and some I was going to reduce into a thick accompaniment to my grilled meats.
Apricot Mustard BBQ Sauce
1/2 lb apricots, about 4
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 Tbsp jalepeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp brandy
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp each kosher salt & pepper
The first step here is to peel the apricots. No one wants to gnaw on fruit skin while trying to enjoy grilled meats. To do this, get a pot of water on to boil. Cut a small “X” in the bottom of each apricot. When the water is boiling, put the apricots in for about 20 seconds. With a slotted spoon, remove the apricots and dump them into a bowl of ice water. Once the apricots have had a moment to cool, you can remove them from the water and easily peel the skins off. Now dice the apricots.
To prepare the BBQ sauce, begin by heating the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes or until starting to soften, stirring frequently. Add the jalepeno and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the brandy and let cook for about 30 seconds, then add the diced apricots, and remaining ingredients.
Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes. If you have a hand blender, remove the pan from the heat and blend the sauce until smooth. Or you can use a regular blender by slowly pouring the sauce into it and blending until smooth. Note: If you are using a blender, remember to not put the little cap on the lid!! If you do, the heat from the sauce may cause the contents to explode all over you and your kitchen, potentially causing burn injuries. To prevent the sauce from coming out of the blender when you turn it on, lightly cover the top of the blender with a tea towel.
Makes about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of sauce. Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
* Very sad: my camera died on me while I was making the sauce. I took a few pics with my iphone, but they are terrible and grainy, so I only included one here.