If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve likely seen reference to one of my staple dinners when D is traveling. I take whatever cooked meat I have on hand, usually leftovers from the night before, shred it in the food processor, and heat it up with some ketchup, mustard, and a little molasses.
It’d be an insult to BBQ to call this BBQ, but the kids love it and it is easy peasy.
When I get really fancy, I use a packet of Shredded Beef from US Wellness Meats.
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The other night I had a defrosted package of Shredded Beef ready to cook. Now, the only problem with my makeshift BBQ sauce is that it contains nightshades and I can’t eat nightshades. So, as I prepared the dish for the kids, I got a little pity-partyish on myself, wishing I could have tomato-based sauces again.
I miss BBQ.
Then, I remembered. I’m from Tennessee.
We don’t use tomato sauce on our BBQ!
Well, at least those of us from Middle Tennessee don’t. I can’t speak to what they do down Memphis-way.
Here’s what they have to say on the topic on “The Complete Serious Eats Barbecue & Sauce Style Guide”:
Rural Tennessee barbecue has earned a reputation in the barbecue community as the purest form of wood-smoked, whole hog ‘cue outside of the Carolinas. These joints tend to be weekend-only operations, smoking as few as one whole hog per day for as long as 20 hours before pulling, chopping and slicing it up with a thin, vinegar-based sauce. Barbecue scholar John T. Edge has testified that further to the north and extending into Kentucky, Tennessee barbecue also includes pork shoulder served over skillet-cooked hoe cakes.
That thin, vinegar-based sauce is what I grew up eating, although our ‘cue was more likely to be served with a spongy slice of Wonder Bread than a hoe cake.
(I’ve only ever had homemade hoe cakes … they were kind of my “thing” when I was a budding teenage cook. My sister nearly choked on one of my hoe cakes when she was 3. Like I said, I was a budding cook.)
Anyhow, once it dawned on me that I could enjoy BBQ without tomatoes, I started researching Tennessee-style vinegar sauces. I played with some recipes, and developed this one that is tangy and flavorful but definitely lower in sugar than most you’ll see. Plus, it’s nightshade-free, which is the only way I can do my ‘cue anymore.
I will confess to feeling really, really sacrilegious when I sopped this sauce up with – of all things – shredded beef. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you, if it’s not pork, it’s not BBQ.
I hope the Tennessee BBQ purists will forgive me.
- ½ TBSP sea salt
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 TBSP honey
- ½ tsp ground mustard
- ¼ tsp ground celery seed
- Add salt to medium size bowl.
- Mix in apple cider vinegar. Stir well then let sit for a few minutes to allow salt to dissolve well.
- Whisk in pepper through celery seed.
- Let sit for at least five minutes.
- Serve with your favorite pulled meat.