Happy 4th of July and BBQ Sauce


Rue at 7, circa 1980

Regardless of how patriotic you are, the 4th of July represents family gatherings, fireworks, and great food — all to be experienced outdoors. Growing up, my family spent nearly every 4th of July at our place in Clearlake, California.

Cousins and close family friends would join us for non-stop swimming, hiking, talent shows, and driveway basketball games. Our fathers closely tended the 55-gallon drum that cooked “low and slow” meats seasoned at least two days before. And inside on the kitchen stove, the pressure cooker hissed the readiness of blackeyed peas and many other delicacies fussed over for hours by our mothers. Those were magical times that informed the love for the outdoors and family I hold today. In just a couple hours, I’ll get on the road and drive back to that sacred place to meet my now-grown cousins to share with our own children what remains of our childhood revelry.

So happy 4th of July Outdoor Afros! And in the spirit of great eats and fun across generations, here is a great barbecue sauce to share, suitable for everything from beef ribs to Boca Burgers. Taken from Sylvia’s Soul Food Cookbook:

Sylvia’s Soul Food Barbecue Sauce

Time 20 minutes
Serves 12
Ingredients

16 oz. Red Devil Hot Sauce
2 1/2 tsps. crushed red pepper flakes
1 small onion, sliced
1 small stalk celery, sliced
3 c. tomato puree
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 lemon, slices

How to make it:

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy pot and cook over low heat just until hot. Don’t bring to a boil or the sauce will turn dark and become thin.

Cool the sauce to room temperature, strain, and store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

Makes about 5 cups.


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