Your Guide To Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Your Guide To Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Walking around the grocery store, you will see dozens of different types of Barbecue sauce. Many of those sauces are delicious and make great options for whatever you are cooking. If you are happy with your store-bought sauce, then, of course, keep using it. However, if you want something a little different, it may be time to start making your own homemade barbecue sauce. To be clear, this is not about convincing you to stop buying barbecue sauce. This is for people who want something a little different and are ready to level up to make their own homemade barbecue sauce. Let’s take a look.


What is Barbecue Sauce?

Before you can make homemade barbecue sauce, you first need to understand what it is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines barbecue sauce as “: a spicy sauce usually eaten with barbecued food.”. That’s a pretty loose, but also a standard definition. As I’m sure you are fully aware, most barbecue sauces on the market today would never be classified as “spicy.”. Does that mean they aren’t barbecue sauce? No, of course not. For our purposes here today, we are going to define barbecue sauce as an acidic/sweet/occasionally spicy sauce eaten with barbecued food.

In all honesty, there are a lot of different types of barbecue sauces from Carolina Gold mustard-based sauce, to Kansas City White Sauce which is mayonnaise-based, to Texas Vinegar Sauces. However, today, our focus is going to be on the classic tomato-based sauces that most of us use most often. If you would like more information on those other sauces, check out this post I did last year.


The Base of the Sauce

When making homemade barbecue sauce, there are two main starting points. You can begin with fresh tomatoes, or you can begin with ketchup. Both of these bases have their benefits and their drawbacks, let’s take a quick look at each.

Starting with Fresh Tomatoes to Make Your Barbecue Sauce

When using fresh tomatoes to make your homemade barbecue sauce, you typically have to roast or bake the tomatoes first. You can also smoke the tomatoes to get a more “authentic” barbecue sauce taste. This roasting removes the sharp acidity of the tomato and intensifies their natural sweetness. To cook the tomatoes start by slicing them in half, drizzling them with olive oil, and seasoning them lightly with salt and pepper. Put them in a 400°f oven for 30-45 minutes or until they soften and start to brown around the edges. Once the tomatoes are roasted, combine them with the other ingredients, then purée the sauce and pass it through a fine-mesh sieve to ensure a smooth consistency. Tomato paste is often added to sauces made from fresh tomatoes to ensure the texture of the final sauce is that of a typical barbecue sauce.

Benefits

  • You have complete control over the flavour of the sauce.
  • You know exactly what is in the sauce.
  • Usually, tastes better than ketchup-based sauces.

Drawbacks

  • More preparation is required.
  • More effort is required to perfect the flavour of the sauce.
  • The sauce must be puréed and strained to ensure a smooth consistency.
  • Mush more time is required to make this type of sauce.

Starting with Ketchup as the base of your Homemade Barbecue Sauce

In truth, either way, you are basically starting with ketchup. The difference is that you are either making the ketchup from scratch and adding the ingredients to make it a barbecue sauce as you go. Or, you are using store-bought ketchup and adding the elements to make it a barbecue sauce. The benefit of using store-bought ketchup is that you are removing five or six steps from your sauce-making process.

Typically, when store-bought ketchup is the base of a barbecue sauce, there are only a handful of ingredients used in the sauce. These are vinegar, sugar (could be white or brown sugar, molasses, honey, or maple syrup), and spices (commonly onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, etc.). For a more “authentic” barbecue sauce taste, liquid smoke or smoked salt are sometimes added. Making barbecue sauce in this way takes only a few minutes and requires no cooking. However, some people prefer to use ketchup as the base but to use fresh onions and garlic, which they sauté until soft. The other ingredients are added to the onion and garlic, puréed and passed through a fine-mesh sieve.

Benefits

  • Quick to make.
  • Less effort.
  • Fewer ingredients are required.
  • Don’t have to cook.

Drawbacks

  • You have slightly less control over the flavour.
  • There may be hidden ingredients in the ketchup.

Most often, I use store-bought ketchup as the base of my sauce, it is much more convienteant and much quicker than using fresh tomatoes. However, I do prefer the flavour and the control I have over the flavour more when making a sauce with fresh tomatoes.


Acid

The standard barbecue sauces that we are talking about today have four main elements. The first, which we’ve already talked about, is the tomato element. The second is acid, more specifically, vinegar. The type of vinegar you chose to make your sauce will affect its final flavour and appearance. The three most common options are white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. I find that apple cider vinegar is the best all-around, go-to vinegar for barbecue sauce. However, that is not to discount either white or balsamic vinegar, which both have their place. Balsamic adds a deeper, more complex acidic taste to the sauce. White vinegar, on the other hand, has a much more upfront, punch you in the face, kind of flavour. Apple cider vinegar is somewhere in between these two. Balsamic will also give your sauce a much darker appearance.


Sweet

The third element of these sauces is something sweet. Now, some barbecue sauces are very sweet, and some are not, but most, if not all, have some sweet element to them. Like the vinegar, the sweetener you choose to use will affect the flavour and appearance of the sauce. Most commonly, brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup are used to sweeten barbecue sauces. Molasses will add the most depth to the flavour of the sauce, and will also have the most significant impact on the appearance of the sauce. Brown sugar adds depth to the sauce, though not as much as molasses. Sauces with solid sugars like brown sugar or white sugar, usually have to be cooked to ensure that the sugar dissolves into the sauce. Maple syrup adds that earthy, maple flavour to a sauce though it is more expensive than both molasses and brown sugar.


Flavourings

Flavourings are the final element to a barbecue sauce. Depending on how you are making your sauce, these may include either onion, or onion powder, garlic or garlic powder, and chilli or chilli powder. Black pepper is commonly used in relatively large amounts in barbecue sauce as well. If you are making the sauce from scratch, you may include spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, which are found in most ketchup. As I mentioned earlier, you may choose to use liquid smoke or smoked salt to achieve a more “authentic” barbecue sauce flavour. All that means is that the smokey element will make your sauce taste more like bottled sauces.

Typically, if I am making a quick sauce, I will use ketchup as the base, add to it cider vinegar, molasses, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and sometimes liquid smoke. I stir all of these ingredients together and have a useable and tasty sauce in minutes. When making the sauce from scratch, I use my roasted or smoked tomatoes, along with sautéd onions and garlic. To that, I add in some tomato paste, brown sugar, cider vinegar, a cinnamon stick, some chilli flakes, a few cloves, and maybe some thyme and mustard powder. I simmer all of these ingredients with a bit of water for about an hour, then purée it in a blender, and pass it through a food mill or a fine-mesh sieve.


Conclusion

You can make a delicious sauce from scratch, and you can make a delicious sauce using ketchup as the base. It just comes down to what you prefer. I do recommend that you make barbecue sacue from scratch at least once. It is a fair amont of effort, but you will gain an appreciation for the sauce, that you didn’t have before, and you may even find that you love it much more then ketchup based sauces.

Below I have included three recipes for barbecue sauce made with store-bought kethcup as the base. Take a look at them and you will immediately notice how similare, yet different they are. I hope what you take away from this is that even though the ingredients are mostly the same, small variations in ratios, and a few additional ingredients can make a world of difference.

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Chef's Notes Logo

Standard Barbecue Sauce

A very basic barbecue sauce that can be used on almost anything.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecue, Barbecue Sauce, BBQ
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Equipment

  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 Whisk
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use as desired.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

All Purpose Barbecue Sauce for Ribs

A delicious Barbecue Sauce for ribs, pork or whatever.
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecue, Barbecue Sauce, Rib Sauce
Servings: 2 Cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 drops fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients and put in a squeeze bottle.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Barbecue Sauce For Pork Tenderloin

This Barbecue sauce is pack with flavour from ingredients from South East Asia. It is the perfect sauce to marinade your pork tenderloin for your Banh Mi.
Total Time: 6 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Banh Mi, Barbecue Pork, Barbecue Sauce, BBQ pork, Chinese BBQ Pork
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Molasses
  • 1 tbsp sambal
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3-4 drops fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar

Instructions

  • Measure all of the ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Pour half the sauce over two pork tenderloins and leave to marinate for two hours.
  • Reserve the remaining sauce for basting the pork as it cooks.
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Everything I Know About Barbecue Sauce

Everything I Know About Barbecue Sauce

In Canada when we think of barbecue sauce we generally only think of one thing. It is sweet, sticky, and thick. This is one of many types of barbecue sauce that is out there in the world. I’m here to tell you that if you are limiting yourself to just this one style you are seriously missing out.

Today we are going to take a look at multiple styles of barbecue sauces. We are going to look at the differences, similarities, when to use them and how to make them. Let’s get to it.

This is….

Everything I Know About Barbecue Sauce


The Standard Barbecue Sauce

The barbecue sauce that we are most used to using, Kansas City style, is generally a combination of vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and spices. That’s it. The different flavours come from different combinations, amounts, and varieties of these ingredients. For example, the vinegar used could be white vinegar, cider vinegar, balsamic, etc. The sugar component could be white sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, or fruit juice. And the spices could be just about anything.

A basic standard barbecue sauce recipe may look something like this…

Chef's Notes Logo

Standard Barbecue Sauce

A very basic barbecue sauce that can be used on almost anything.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecue, Barbecue Sauce, BBQ
Servings: 1 cup
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Equipment

  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 Whisk
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use as desired.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

There are alternative ways to make this basic barbecue sauce. You can sauté onion and garlic. Boil the Maple Syrup and Vinegar to concentrate their flavour. Use tomato paste rather than ketchup and adjust the vinegar and sugar to balance the flavour. You can use other spices like cumin, cinnamon, and mustard to add unique flavours to it.

If you really wanted to go crazy with the sauce you could roast or smoke garlic, tomatoes, and onion then use those as the base. Along with these, you would add vinegar, sugar, spices, maybe a touch of water.

The point is that even the most basic barbecue sauce can be elevated and elaborated upon to make something truly delicious.


Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Mustard based barbecue sauce is most typically found in South Carolina. Use specifically on pork, mustard barbecue sauce is a mixture of yellow mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar along with spices. The closest thing I can equate it to is a mustard glaze my mother used to make for ham.

The South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce is sweet and tangy and something considerably different than the ketchup-based sauce we are most familiar with.

Genius Kitchen has a recipe for it that I have used a few times. You can find that here.


Vinegar Based Barbecue Sauces

Although both of the sauces we have talked about so far contain vinegar, neither of them are classified as “vinegar-based”. Vinegar based sauces can be made in the same way as both of the above sauces with the exception that they have a much greater amount of vinegar.

Vinegar based sauces are generally known as “wet” sauces. These don’t coat the meat in the same way as a thicker sauce would. Generally, these are used for pulled pork.

To make a vinegar-based sauce use either of the above recipes but bump up the vinegar with 2 cups.

Another type of vinegar sauce, the most basic of all the sauces, is simply vinegar, black pepper, and chili flakes. This is typically used as a “mop sauce”. That means that as the meat, most often pork, is cooking it is mopped or generously brushed with the sauce. This too is most common with pulled pork.


White Barbecue Sauce

White barbecue sauce, commonly known as Alabama White Sauce is starting to become the “it” sauce of the day. It is made pretty much the same way as a Kansas City or standard barbecue sauce with one important change. Rather than using ketchup or tomato as the base, mayonnaise is used.

This white sauce hasn’t really hit Canada yet. I would imagine that within the next year or two, it will be in every barbecue and burger joint in the country.


International Sauces


America isn’t the only part of the world with a long tradition of cooking meat over burning wood. There are lots of places that barbecue and lots of different sauces from around the world.

You have more than likely heard of Teriyaki Sauce which is a type of Japanese sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. It’s very possible that you have also heard of Hoisin Sauce. If you read this blog regularly you definitely have. Hoisin can be used as a barbecue sauce on its own or used as the base for other sauces like Char Siu.

In India spices mixed with yogurt make a barbecue sauce for tandoori chicken. While in Argentina, herbs and chili mixed with vinegar and oil make Chimichurri.


Conclusion

The overall point that I want you to take away from this is that barbecue sauce is not one thing. It can be a lot of different things and you should try them all. You’ll never know you like something until you give it a shot.

As we get deeper into grilling season I highly recommend that you set aside a day or two to try a few of these different sauces. One just may end up being your new favourite.

What’s your favourite sauce or sauce recipe?

Halifax-Style Donair Kabobs with Tomato Salad and Yogurt Sauce

Halifax-Style Donair Kabobs with Tomato Salad and Yogurt Sauce

One of my first food memories, actually just one of my first memories, is of a small pizza place under the MacDonald bridge in Dartmouth. It was only about two or three blocks from my family home, and I have a memory of trying my first bite of donair from there. We moved from Dartmouth when I was almost four, so that first donair experience would have been when I was about three. I have loved them ever since. Over the years, I have done my fair share of experimenting with donair flavours. I even once put a donair-spiced scallop dish on a menu. And so, I wanted to make a donair, without making a donair. I wanted the same flavours but in a different package. To do that, I went back to the origins of the donair but kept the flavours that I’ve loved for my whole life. And so, I present to you my Halifax-Style Donair Kabobs with tomato salad and yogurt sauce.


The Recipes

Halifax-Style Donair Kabob

Donair Kabobs seasoned in the Halifax Style. The perfect dish to add to your barbecue menu.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Barbecue, Donair, Grilling, Kabobs, Skewers
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef 454 g
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion flakes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix well. Knead the meat mixture for five minutes or until it develops a tacky texture and appearance.
  • Divide the meat in four and form each fourth of meat around a 12-inch skewer. If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 1 hour before skewering the meat.
  • Wrap the meat around the skewer and gently squeeze it to spread it out in an even layer around the length of the skewer.
  • Heat your grill to 400°f.
  • Grill the skewers on the hottest part of your grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked through. Flip them every 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Take the skewers off the grill and serve immediately.

Notes

These Donair Kabobs are great with tomato and onion salad and garlicky yogurt sauce, but they also work very well in the traditional pita, with donair sauce, tomato and onion, or in a salad bowl with garlic mayo. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

A simple and delicious garlicky yogurt sauce for spiced beef, pork, or vegetables.
Prep Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Dip, Garlic, Yogurt
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Tomato and Onion Salad

Tomato and Onion Salad makes a great side dish for any summer meal. Don't let the simplicity of this salad fool you because it is loaded with flavour.
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Salad, Side Dish, Simple, Tomato
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 cups large diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for one hour before serving.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What is a Halifax Donair?

If you aren’t from Nova Scotia, you may be wondering to yourself, “What is a Halifax Donair?”. Let me enlighten you. A Halifax Donair is made from spiced beef that is cooked on a verticle spit. Thinly shaved and wrapped in a soft Lebanese-style pita with fresh diced white onion and tomato, and finished with a sweet and tangy sauce made of sweet and condensed milk, vinegar, garlic powder, and onion powder. It is the kind of thing you usually only eat after a long night of drinking, or on a Friday night in with friends. Every Pizza Place in the province, except for some of the big national chains, sells donairs. And just about every Nova Scotian, at least from a certain generation forward, has a deep-seated love for them. I happily include myself in this group.

Other places in the world have Donair, often spelled doner kebab, or gyros, which are similar. But none are quite like the Halifax Donair, which was introduced to the region by Greek immigrants in the 1970s. It was originally served as a lamb gyro with tzatziki sauce, but the recipe was changed to what it is now to suit local tastes. Since then, it has been a local favourite and has now begun to spread across the country. However, only one city can truly claim it as their own. It is, after all, the official food of Halifax.


Making The Donair Kabob Meat Mixture

Okay, let’s get cooking. Start with a pound of lean ground beef. Add some flour (I used gluten-free all-purpose flour), Italian seasoning, garlic powder, dried onion or onion powder, cayenne, oregano, salt, and pepper. See the recipe above for all the measurements.


Mixing and Tasting The Donair Meat

Mix the meat well. I mean really well. You want to knead it for about five minutes or until it develops a tacky look and texture. This will give the meat the right texture when cooked. Break off a little piece of the meat and cook it in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Taste it, and adjust the seasoning as needed. This is a good habit to get into whenever making anything with ground meat like meatloaf or burger. Season the meat, cook off a little piece and taste it.

Making Donair Kabobs

The picture below shows six skewers, but the recipe above only makes four. I apologize for the confusion. I adjust the recipe because the salad and the sauce were only enough for four.

Divide the meat into four evenly sized balls. Wrap each ball around a metal or pre-soaked wooden or bamboo skewer. Gently squeeze the meat to spread it out the length of the skewer in an even layer.


Grilling The Donair Kabobs

Heat your grill to 400°f and let it sit for about 10 minutes to get the grates nice and hot. Cook the skewers for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating every 2 to 3 minutes until cooked. The meat should be firm to the touch with a little spring back when fully cooked. Take the Donair Kabobs off the grill and serve immediately.


Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

Traditional Donair Sauce is made with sweet and condensed milk, onion powder, and garlic powder. It is delicious but not great if you are trying to watch your waistline. So, I wanted to make a slightly healthier sauce. I made a version with non-fat Greek yogurt as the base. It is sweetened with honey, soured with lemon juice, has plenty of garlic, a bit of onion powder, and tastes delicious. Mix all the ingredients, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for an hour to let the flavours develop. This sauce works with any spiced meat and goes great on salad bowls too.


Tomato and Onion Salad

I have to tell you, the surprise breakout star of this meal is by far this really simple tomato and onion salad. I loved the Donair Kabobs, the Garlicky Yogurt sauce was fantastic, but this salad was amazing! Fresh vine-ripened tomatoes with garlic, red onion, parsley, white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. That’s all there is to it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes one of your new favourite summer side dishes. It has become one of mine. Just like with the sauce, mix all the salad ingredients, cover the bowl, and let it sit in the fridge for an hour before serving for best results.


Putting It All Together

All the components of this meal are good on their own, but when you take a bite with a bit of the meat, some of the salad, and a touch of the sauce, that is when the magic happens. The flavours come alive, and you really get that Halifax Donair experience. Minus the hangover and sauce dripping all over your hands, arms, and clothes.


The Warp Up

I’ve wanted to make this for a long time, and I am so happy that I finally got the opportunity. It was well worth the wait. I think you’ll be happy if you make any of the components of this meal, but I think if you make them all and serve it all together, you will be over the moon. Try it for yourself. You’ll be happy you did.

Thanks for reading, and remember to check out my brand new cookbook, “The How-To Cookbook For Men” It comes out on August 10th and is available for preorder here.

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Barbecue Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

Barbecue Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

Is there anything more comforting than digging into a big helping of Shepherd’s Pie? I don’t think there is. In fact, Shepherd’s Pie has been one of my favourite foods for as long as I can remember. This Shepherd’s Pie recipe gives you that comforting feeling you love but with a barbecue pulled pork twist. And yes, it is as good as it sounds. The pulled pork is mixed with sautéed onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and barbecue sauce and is then topped with sour cream and scallion mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. It is amazing. Now, let’s get to it.

Minor Rant

Before someone inevitably points out that Shepherd’s Pie is supposed to be made with lamb, I will say I know that. But I also know that the term Shepherd’s Pie has transcended its humble origins to become a broad term used to describe anything topped with mashed potatoes and baked like the French word Parmentier. Language is fluid, and as time passes, words develop new and different meanings. I think we can all agree that at this point, a Shepherd’s Pie is whatever we want it to be.


Ingredients

The ingredients for this Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie are pretty straightforward. They are red onion, red and green bell pepper, jalapeno, pulled pork, barbecue sauce, potatoes, butter, cream, sour cream, scallions, cheddar cheese, and of course, salt and pepper. To be clear, this is not a recipe for pulled pork. This is a recipe made using leftover pulled pork. I’ve only just now realized that I’ve never done a post about pulled pork, so I’ll have to do that soon. In the meantime, any pulled pork you have will work. You can find a great pulled pork recipe in my new cookbook, which you can get here. You can always make this same recipe using pulled chicken, turkey, or beef.


Sour Cream and Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Making Mashed Potatoes

Start things off by making the mashed potatoes. While the potatoes are cooking, you can put the Shepherd’s Pie base together to cut down on prep time. I’m sure you know how to make mashed potatoes, but I also know that some people out there don’t, so I’ll walk through this first step for them. For the potatoes, use 4 to 5 fist-sized russet potatoes. Peel them, dice them, and rinse them until the water runs clear. Put them in a pot with hot, salted water, bring to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Pour the potatoes into a strainer, add 2 tablespoons of butter and a 1/4 cup of cream to the pot, and put it back on the burner until the butter melts and the cream just starts to boil. Using a food mill, ricer, or masher, mash the potatoes into the cream and butter.

Flavouring The Mashed Potatoes

Add 2 tablespoons of full-fat sour cream (I said this was delicious, not healthy) and 3 diced scallions to the potatoes. Season the with salt and pepper to taste. The potatoes should be creamy but not watery, and they should have a fresh onion flavour. You have to use full-fat sour cream so that it doesn’t split in the oven.


Prepping The Shepherd’s Pie Filling

While the potatoes are cooking, thinly slice half a red onion and dice half a red and green bell pepper. In total, you want about half a cup of each. If you have a little more or less, it won’t hurt anything. Also, dice one jalapeno. You can remove the seeds if you don’t like too much heat.

Cooking The Shepherd’s Pie Filling

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (canola, olive, peanut, grape seed, avocado…). Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions start to soften. Add the pulled pork (about 500g or just over a pound) along with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of barbecue sauce of your choice. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.


Assembling the Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

Pour the pulled pork mixture into a small roasting pan or casserole dish. I use the small roasting pan from IKEA, which is about 8-by-10-inches. Spread the mixture out into an even layer so that it covers the bottom of the dish. Top with the mashed potatoes and finish with about 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese.


Baking and Serving the Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

Bake the Shepherd’s Pie in a 425°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and starts to brown. Take the Shepherd’s Pie out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a side salad…or don’t.

Pulled Pork Sheperd’s Pie

Classic Pulled Pork mixed with sautéed peppers and onions, and finished with barbecue sauce. Topped with sour cream and scallion mashed potatoes, and cheddar cheese then baked to perfection.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: Barbecue Pork, Casserole
Servings: 6 people
Author: Chef Ben Kelly

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, minced seeds removed
  • 500 g pulled pork
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Potatoes

  • 700 g russet potatoes 4 to 5 fist-sized russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 scallion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Instructions

Filling

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the cooking oil to the pan along with the onion, bell peppers, and jalapeno. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions soften.
  • Add the pulled pork, sauté for 1 minute then add the water and barbecue sauce. Cook, stirring every 30 to 45 seconds for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Taste the filling and season with salt and pepper as needed. Put the filling in an 8×10 roasting pan or casserole dish.

Potatoes

  • Peel and dice the potatoes.
  • Rinse the potatoes in cold water until the water runs clear.
  • Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover them with hot water. Season the water with salt and put it on high heat. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • Drain the potatoes. While the potatoes are draining, put the pot back on the stove and add the butter and cream. Cook just until the cream is warm and the butter is melted.
  • Using a food mill, ricer, or masher, mash the potatoes and mix well with the cream and butter.
  • Stir in the sour cream and scallion. Taste the potatoes and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Assemble

  • Heat your oven to 425°F
  • Spread the potatoes in an even layer on top of the pulled pork filling. Top the potatoes with cheddar cheese.
  • Bake the shepherd's pie for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and browns.
  • Let the shepherd's pie cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

Notes

To speed up the process, start cooking the potatoes before the filling. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The Wrap-Up

When I had originally conceived this recipe, I meant to put corn and black beans in it, but I completely forgot and left them out when it came time to cook. I’m glad I did because I don’t know that they would have added to the dish, and in fact, may have taken away from it. I think it is great as it is, but you be the judge. Feel free to play with the recipe, change out of the protein, add whatever you want to it, and really, make it yours.

On a personal note, I have not been posting for over two weeks. The first week I was on vacation. The second week, I hurt my neck and shoulder or aggravated an old injury, to be more precise and couldn’t really do anything. Even now, it isn’t 100%, but it is feeling much better and well enough for me to work. This is the longest I’ve gone without posting in a long time, and I really missed it. I want to say thank you to everyone for all the support and well wishes. It means the world to me.

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Homemade Egg Rolls and Plum Sauce From Scratch {Gluten Free}

Homemade Egg Rolls and Plum Sauce From Scratch {Gluten Free}

I miss many things from back when I could eat gluten or didn’t know that I couldn’t be more accurate. Egg Rolls are near the top of that list. Crisp pastry wrapped around a delicious filling, deep-fried and dipped in plum sauce. What’s better than that? In all honesty, it never even occurred to me to try and make my own gluten-free egg roll wrappers. But, you can’t do an entire series on Chinese Take-Out Food and not make egg rolls. You just can’t. So I figured it out.

Today, I’m going to share my recipe for Homemade Gluten-Free Egg Rolls and Homemade Plum Sauce. You can make these with regular flour. They don’t have to be gluten-free. But if you’re like me and have to avoid gluten at all costs, this is probably something you’ve been waiting for for a long time. And that’s just about enough chit chat. Let’s get to it.

Homemade Egg Rolls Header Image

How To Make Plum Sauce

This plum sauce recipe does not taste like bottled plum sauce. I would argue that it tastes much better, but when you know something as one thing, it’s hard to wrap your head around it being different. So, if you can eat gluten and want to use regular plum sauce, that’s perfectly fine. However, if you want to try something different or need it to be gluten-free, try this.

Plum Sauce Ingredients

My plum sauce ingredients are onion, garlic, ginger, plums, Chinese 5 Spice (recipe at the end of the blog or you can use store-bought), pumpkin purée, sugar, salt, Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), vinegar, and water. You can find the full measurement in the recipe at the end of this section.

Directions

To make the plum sauce, start by dicing and sauteéing the onions in a bit of oil on medium-high heat. After about three minutes or when the onions turn translucent, add in the garlic and ginger, then cook for another minute or two or until slightly browned. Remove the pit from the plums, dice them, and then add them along with the five-spice to the pot. Cook for four to five minutes, then add in the remaining ingredients. Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer the sauce for twenty minutes. Let the sauce cool slightly, then purée it with an immersion blender and pass it through a fine-mesh sieve for a smooth sauce.


Plum Sauce

DIY Plum Sauce

This plum sauce isn't going to taste exactly like the stuff you get in a jar, but that may be a good thing. It is delicious
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian, Chinese
Keyword: Chinese 5 Spice, Chinese Take-Out
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Chef’s Notes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 2 tbsp Minced Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 4 cups Diced Plums, pitted and diced
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 2 tsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Canola Oil

Instructions

  • Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil and the onion. Cook the onion for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions start to turn translucent.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes or just until they start to brown.
  • Add the plums and Chinese 5 Spice into the pot and cook, stirring until the plums start to break down, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients into the pot, bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer the sauce for 20 miuntes.
  • Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes, then purée using a blender or immersion blender.
  • For a very smooth sauce, pass the puréed sauce through a fine mesh sieve. Cool the plum sauce and serve or keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Egg Roll Filling

I like to keep my Egg Roll filling pretty basic, opting for onion, carrot, celery, cabbage, bean sprouts, garlic, soy sauce, and salt. You can add a bit of ginger, chilli, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or just about anything else you want. These are your Egg Rolls, after all. Do with them what you will.

Cooking The Filling

To cook the Egg Roll filling, heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add in a tablespoon of oil, then the carrot, onion and celery. Cook for four to five minutes or until the vegetables start to brown. Add in the garlic, and cook for one minute, then the washed and drained bean sprouts. Cook for one to two minutes before adding the cabbage. Cook until the cabbage has wilted, then season with soy sauce and salt. Transfer the cooked vegetables from the wok to the strainer set over a large bowl and let the mixture sit for twenty minutes. This will help prevent the Egg Rolls from becoming soggy and exploding.


Making Egg Roll Wrappers

Egg Roll wrappers are essentially pasta dough. And they are made the same way. To make the dough combine egg yolks with flour and salt, add just enough water to bring the dough together. If you are using regular flour, knead the dough for ten minutes. Kneading for more than a minute or two isn’t needed if you are using gluten-free flour.

*Note: My batch of dough is half of what is written in the recipe below. I ended up having a bunch of leftover filling, so I doubled the recipe for you. So, if you are looking at my picture and wondering why it looks like I have less dough than you do, that is why.


Rolling The Dough

Put the dough on a floured work surface and roll it with a rolling pin to one to two milimeters thick. Trim the edges of the dough to make a large rectangle, then cut the dough into eight centimeter by ten centimeter rectangles. If you are using gluten-free flour, the excess dough can be re-rolled. I’m not sure how it will hold up to re-rolling if you are using regular flour.

*Note: When using regular flour, it is best to make the dough a day before you want to use it, then store it in the fridge overnight. Take the dough out of the fridge an hour before you want to start rolling it. If you try and make the dough using regular flour, it will be way too tough and springy to roll by hand without allowing it that day to rest.


Hand Rolling Egg Rolls

Take one of the dough rectangles and brush the edges with beaten egg white. Place two heaping tablespoons of the filling in the wrapper’s center, then spread it out, leaving a two-centimetre lip on both ends. Roll the wrapper’s bottom up and over the filling, pulling back to tighten, then roll forward to seal. Pinch the ends shut. Repeat until all of the egg rolls are made.

Deep-fry the Egg Rolls in 365°f oil for about five to six minutes or until they turn golden brown. Before you ask, I don’t know how these would stand up to an air fryer or to being baked. I only made them once, and I deep-fried them. Drain the fried egg rolls on a wire rack and serve with homemade plum sauce.

*Note: I did notice that when deep-fried a second time, after cooling, the egg rolls became much crispier. After the initial fry, you can cool the egg rolls and store them in the fridge for up to two days or freeze them.


Plum Sauce

Homemade Egg Rolls

This is how to make egg rolls from scratch. I used gluten-free all-purpose flour in this recipe, but you can substitute regular ap flour instead.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Canadian, Chinese
Keyword: Egg Rolls, Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Servings: 12 egg rolls
Author: Chef’s Notes

Ingredients

Egg Roll Filling

  • 1/2 cup Carrot
  • 1/2 cup Celery
  • 1 cup Sliced Onion
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 2 cups Bean Sprouts
  • 2 cups Sliced Nappa Cabbage or regular cabbage
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Canola Oil

Egg Roll Wrappers

  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1/2 cup Water or as needed
  • 2 Egg Whites, beaten

Instructions

Egg Roll Filling

  • Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat. Add in the oil and swirl it around the pan. Put the carrot, onion, and celery in the wok and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the vegetables are slightly browned.
  • Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Then add in the bean sprouts, cook for another two minutes, then the cabbage, cook for another 2-3 minutes, season with the soy sauce and salt, toss the vegetables and cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Transfer the vegetables from the wok to a strainer set over a large mixing bowl. Let the vegetables sit and drain for about 20 minutes.

Egg Roll Wrappers

  • Put the egg yolks into a large bowl along with the salt and flour. Mix well. Then add just enough water to bring the dough together. Transfer the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured counter. Flatten the dough with your hands then use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 2 to 3 mm thick.
  • Cut the dough into 8 cm x 10 cm rectangle. Any excess dough can be re-rolled and formed.

Making The Egg Rolls

  • Brush the edges of one egg roll wrapper with beaten egg white.
  • Place two tablespoons of the egg roll filling in the centre of the wrapper and spread the filling the length of the dough, leaving a 2 cm lip on both ends.
  • Roll the edge closest to you up and over the filling. Pull back gently to tighten then roll forward to seal.
  • Pinch the ends togehter to finish.
  • Place the rolled egg rolls on a lightly floured tea towel until all of the egg rolls have been rolled.
  • Deep Fry the egg rolls at 365°f for five minutes or until the egg rolls are crisp and golden brown. Serve with homemade plum sauce.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Conclusion

It was really something special for me to have Egg Rolls, let alone homemade ones. Of all the items I have made in this series so far, I think these are my favourite if for no other reason becasue I never thought I would ever eat an egg roll again. Whether you have to eat gluten-free or not, I suggest you make this. It is a great project for a rainy Sunday afternoon, and it is well worth the effort.

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Chinese 5 Spice

Chinese 5 Spice is a warming Chinese spice belnd. It is terrific on duck, pork, chicken or beef.
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Spice Blend
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Chinese 5 Spice, Chinese Food, five spice

Ingredients

  • 4 Star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 tsp Szechwan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  • Combine the spices in a spice grinder and grind to a powder.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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