If you’re looking for something to spice up your grilled beef, chicken, or fish, a grilling sauce will give you just the flavor surge you’re looking for. Unlike marinades, sauces are usually applied during or just after cooking. They can also be used for dipping during the meal. There are plenty of sauces for the grill available at your local grocery store, but making your own sauces gives you the opportunity to experiment and make just the perfect complement to your grilling masterpiece.
Basics of Sauces for the Grill
When it comes to grilling sauces, most people immediately think of thick, tangy barbecue sauce. While this type of sauce is a staple in many American back yards, it is by no means the only option. Sauces can be spicy, sweet, fruity, garlicky, or any flavor combination you choose. The best recipes are those that don’t overpower the flavor of the meat, but rather enhance it. Before we talk about types of sauces, here are a few tips for incorporating a great sauce into your recipe lineup:
- Apply during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. This is especially important for sugar-based sauces, since these can quickly burn in a high-heat environment. If you prefer, you can brush the sauce on after removing the meat from the grill.
- If you plan to use some of the sauce for dipping, make sure you divide it before you brush onto raw meat. This will prevent cross-contamination. Discard any leftover sauce that has come into contact with a brush that has touched underdone meat.
- Apply layers of sweet sauce a minute or two apart during grilling to form a glaze.
- Barbecue sauce can be made a day or two ahead. The extra time in the fridge will enhance the flavor of the sauce.
Types of Sauces for the Grill
Sweet sauces can be made from a variety of ingredients including sugar, corn syrup, fruit, fruit juice, jam, and honey. These sauces make an excellent glaze. Try fruit-based sauces with pork or chicken and sweet barbecue sauce with any type of meat.
Savory sauces include garlic-herb recipes, spicy flavors, and Asian-inspired sauces. Many of these sauces combine an oil with a more acidic ingredient such as citrus juice or vinegar. An easy example of a flavorful savory sauce is to combine butter, lemon juice, and Worstershire sauce.
Dipping sauces complement just about any meat and are extremely versatile. Simply whisk ingredients together and serve alongside the main dish. Start with an oil and vinegar base and try adding herbs, lemon or lime zest, salt and pepper, garlic and capers or finely chopped tomatoes. For an Asian flavor, add soy sauce and finely chopped peanuts. The sky is the limit with dipping sauces, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavor combinations.
Using Leftover Grilling Sauces
Grilling sauces can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days, provided they haven’t been contaminated with raw meat juices. If you don’t plan to grill again in the next day or so, try blending with cream cheese or sour cream for a flavorful dip, mixing with baked beans, chili, or tacos for added flavor, or using in place of ketchup for fries and burgers.
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