Add a Little BBQ Sauce to Your Vinaigrette

Illustration for article titled Add a Little BBQ Sauce to Your Vinaigrette

Photo: Claire Lower

Whether you favor a tangy, vinegar-based Carolina sauce or a thicker, sweeter, redder offering, BBQ sauce (or “barbecue sauce” if you are a person of letters) tastes like summer. Nearly every iteration of the condiment is complex and balanced—perfect for marinading, basting, and finishing.

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It’s also a banging vinaigrette ingredient.

In addition to the (obvious) aliquot of oil, good vinaigrettes all have a few things in common: a high level of acid, a little more sugar than you think you need, and an emulsifier. Store-bought barbecue sauce has all of those things, plus a whole bunch of spices and other flavoring agents, meaning you only need two additional ingredients to transform it into a summery salad dressing: Oil and vinegar.

The amount of vinegar your dressing needs will hinge on how acidic your sauce is. The aforementioned Carolina sauce, for example, will require fall less than a Memphis-style sauce. Oregon doesn’t really have a BBQ identity, so I grabbed Sweet Baby Ray’s (my favorite sweet grocery store sauce) to make mine. (Spoiler alert: It was surprisingly complex and very, very good.)

For the oil, you want to use something neutral, like grapeseed, or plain ol’ vegetable, as olive can clash. For the acid, use apple cider vinegar. It’s fruity and bright, and complements—but doesn’t distract from—the flavor profile of your sauce.

To make this dressing, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons BBQ sauce

Add everything to a jar and shake to combine. If you’re sauce is acidic, start with two tablespoons of vinegar and add more if needed. Taste and adjust with more sauce or vinegar as needed. Your dressing should be tart—too tart to consume from a spoon—but pleasantly punchy on a vegetable. Once you hit that flavor point, drizzle it over a big ol’ pile of grilled veggies, a corn-heavy salad, or anything that needs a hit of aggressive summery flavor.

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