Not long after I first got married, my new husband returned from his inaugural grocery duties with a dinosaur-size bottle of yellow mustard.
“Yellow mustard?” I stammered. What in the world would I ever do with it all? It was exactly the kind of condiment that I thought had no place in my kitchen. If food snobbery is a disease, I’m as afflicted as anyone. I was a Dijon girl all the way. Whole grain. Or spicy brown. Artisan. Local if possible. Nothing that came in a gigantic squeeze bottle. But to humor him, I made a batch of homemade German pretzels, which was good for about a quarter cup of consumption. Flash forward three years, and that mustard would still be hanging around the back shelf waiting for its next booking.
But I was wrong about yellow mustard. Case in point: Vince Camillo’s South Carolina Style BBQ Sauce, which was undeniably delicious. As Heather Ramsdell put it when we circled in the test kitchen around some mustard-smothered chicken legs, “You don’t wonder if that’s good, you just know it.” They were assertive, spicy, electrically good. That night I took the sauce home and smothered it on some line-caught halibut which I stuffed into toasted tortillas with shaved radish. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
That’s the thing about bbq sauce. Take something everyday, like tomato paste or molasses, malt vinegar or plain old yellow mustard and turn it into something that lingers in the mind. You could throw in something surprising, like yuzu or bonito flakes, and fancy it up to your liking. Or you can simply stir together the basics, in just the proportions you like, and smoother it all over that thing you love — be it pork, chicken, fish, beef or seitan. Smother, smother away.
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Photos and post by Sarah Copeland. Recipe by Vincent Camillo.