It is a proverb that every serious pitmaster lives by that truly great barbecue does not require a sauce. But like most cooking proverbs (vengeance being best when served cold in particular), it is seldom adhered to as customers slather sauce all over our masterpieces like housepainters taking their rollers to the Mona Lisa. And I’m not going to lie, there’s always a sting to your pride when you see your masterful meat treated this way by philistines.
But, as Marsellus Wallace so elegantly pointed out, “Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
As such, we at Bugbear BBQ have swallowed our pride and embraced our sauces. And while there is a myriad of different recipes from each of the three major schools of barbecue, we find they’re easiest to break into categories based upon color. Yes, that may seem fairly arbitrary, but no one has ever accused us of ever being consistent; which we will remind you Emerson stated was the “hobgoblin of little minds.”
And with my requisite literary allusion now out of the way, let’s dive into sauces without any further ado.
Yes, these are my real homemade sauces. And yes, each one will curl your toes.
There may be a thousand different sauce recipes from hundreds of different races spread across dozens of realms, but one thing remains consistent throughout: Tomato sauce as a base. Be it a family recipe handed down from generation to generation or a store-bought concoction in a squeezable plastic bottle, the first ingredient is probably some derivation of tomato (or that dimension’s equivalent).
Kansas City (the “KC” in KC Masterpiece) - the best known and can contain dozens of ingredients including onions, mustard, vinegar, Worcester, steak sauce, molasses, peppers and apple juice. One of our favorites is LBJ’s personal pitmaster Walter Jetson’s.
Spirits – While most humans derive their spirit sauces from whiskey, it’s the dwarves that rule this domain with their hard liquors. The dwarves take great pride in using liquor as old and harsh as the lands they inhabit, the (in)famous Thidras Keghorn recipe calling for 100-year-old cask-strength liquors of at least 170 proof. And while it’s well known that the liquor is the first thing to evaporate when boiling a sauce, don’t be surprised if you come away from a dwarven spirit sauce with a bit of a hangover.
Hot – The traditional red/ KC sauces can certainly have a kick to them, but the sauces we deem “hot” take it to a new level. Centered around the pepper, it often seems that the point of these sauces is not flavor so much as the inflection of pain. But if you get a little dopamine kick from capsaicin, then these are the sauces for you. The venerable Long Peat company rates their barbecue sauces by how many drops of basilisk blood are in each bottle. Needless to say, savings throws are required after their medium sauce (4 drops), yet they go as high as 20!
Vinegar – If a tomato’s sweetness isn’t your thing, these sauces based on vinegar’s acidity may be right up your alley. Our personal favorite is the Lexington Dip.
Honey – If you find a tomato’s sweetness too sour, then a honey sauce may be your cup of… uh, honey (?). The most famous of this type is Samson’s Riddle, which always costs north of 100 gold pieces because their honey is derived from hives kept inside of lions’ carcasses. But if you’ve got 1,000 gold pieces burning a hole in your bag of holding, go for their Griffin Edition of the sauce, which requires the corpse of a griffin to make.
Mustard – yep, it’s made with mustard as a base, but this is not the ballpark hotdog type of mustard you are used to. South Carolinian is the most famous, but we prefer the Dornish Snake Sauce, which contains venom, mustard and dragon peppers.
Brown – generally derived from the juices of the meat in question, these include au jus and board sauces. Almost as thin as the vinegar sauces, they’re so flavorful that it’s often tempting to drink them straight.
Black – not for the faint of heart, these are the province of hobgoblins, which believe that the suffering of the animal in question enhances the flavor. Hobgoblin’s Choice is the most famous, which, like a fish sauce, is derived from fermenting an animal in a box, then squeezing out the resulting juices. Not usually ones for sauces, hobgoblin pitmasters however prize their collections of personally made sauces; each one containing the remains of one of their fallen foes.
If the foe was still alive when placed in the fermentation box is always in question, so you should always think twice before someone offers you a Hobgoblin’s Choice...