Barbeque sauce (also spelt as Barbecue) can be described and prepared in a number of ways depending on where you are in the world.
For some, it will be a mustard or vinegar-based thin sauce that is brushed onto meat, fish or poultry as it is being grilled or roasted.
For others it is a thick tomato-based sauce that is served with barbequed or grilled meat, accompanying the meat as a dip or condiment on the side.
There are those who make their barbeque sauce from a base of fruit, whilst other people buy their sauce in bottles from the local supermarket.
Most barbeque sauces are made from a tomato base, not necessarily fresh chopped tomatoes, but it can be from any form of tomato such as tomato ketchup, tomato paste or tomato juice.
Other essential ingredients are sugar; usually brown, which caramelises the sauce onto the meat, creating a unique flavour, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
If you want to experiment when preparing your homemade barbeque sauce, instead of sugar you could also use corn syrup, molasses or even honey.
A number of spices and seasonings are then added to create a barbeque sauce to suit the preferences and tastes of the chef and his guests. You may add chilli powder, garlic, pepper, dried mustard, onion, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce and the list goes on. You can make barbeque sauce from just about anything!
Your end result may also be a sweet and tangy sauce, a smoky grilled sauce or a hot and spicy sauce and the colour may range from bright yellow to deep brown.
If you are going to prepare a barbeque sauce to glaze your meat with as it cooks under the grill or especially on the barbeque, as higher temperatures are reached, it is recommended that you make a sauce that is not tomato-based. This is due to the fact that tomato-based sauces burn the surface of the meat and therefore spoil the flavour of both the meat and the sauce.
For a barbeque glaze it is best to prepare a mustard or vinegar-based sauce that will not burn during the cooking process. These types of sauces or glazes, as opposed to a fruit based sauce, can be applied to the meat during cooking time and the sauce will not burn. A fruit-based sauce however, must be added right at the end of the cooking time, so that the meat does not spoil.
To achieve a barbeque sauce that is rich, tasty and a wealth of exciting flavours, the sauce should be prepared in advance, to give the flavours time to blend together and create a distinctive taste.
Cooking time is also important, as the sauce should be allowed to simmer for as long as possible for the same reason. Although preparing the sauce may be a lengthy task, it is extremely simple and well worth it.
There are recipes for barbeque sauce that do not involve any cooking at all, which are useful if you need the sauce very quickly. The ingredients are simply blended together and the sauce is ready to serve.
You may use your sauce as you please, either to baste your meat, fish or poultry during cooking or by using it as a simple relish or condiment on the side of the plate or to top foods such as beef burgers, chicken wings or barbequed spare ribs.
Below is a selection of recipes for barbeque sauce, some using tomatoes, whilst others are a bit more daring.