The “original” BBQ sauce, according to recorded history was a vinegar and pepper mix. It is still used on the coastal plains of both North and South Carolina where it originated, and to a slight degree in Virginia and Georgia. After the vinegar and pepper variation we began to see adaptations with “light tomato”, “heavy tomato” and mustard: in other words, four basic categories. Vinegar and pepper based sauces are linked to early Scottish settlers in the Carolina, whereas mustard based sauces are the fine work of the German settlers.
“Light tomato” sauce is little more than vinegar and pepper mixed with ketchup. “Heavy tomato” sauce is a rather recent occurrence and what we see in the likes of “KC Masterpiece”. Sauce wars have been fought through the years over ownership of the original recipes, and of course, over which is best. After that the debates go to pork versus beef, and even in places like Kentucky, mutton, or lamb in considered best.
Being of Scottish descent, I chose a very basic vinegar and pepper marinade and baste, with a spicy flare:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
I let this mix sit for four hours to make sure the flavors had sufficient time to emerge and blend. I then put the mix in a large plastic bag along the ribs, and put the whole mess in the refrigerator over night.
Around 11:00 AM I fired up the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker with Kingsford briquets. For smoke flavoring I chose cherry wood which I purchased from Amazon.com, my new favorite retailer (I still love you, too, Costco, but Amazon Prime lets me get most everything with two-day shipping, and no sales tax). I put the ribs on around noon, and have been basting them every so often with the vinegar and pepper mix. These guys are gonna be good!
For more BBQ lore check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ubTQfr_tyY