If the rain holds off, some of us might find ourselves cooking outside this weekend. And if it doesn't hold off, well, some of us die-hards will still find a way to cook outside. I have been known to clamp the shade umbrella from an old beach chair to the smoke pipe of my grill.
Either way, let's see if I can get you in the mood, with a chance to win a copy of Steven Raichlen's newest book, "Planet Barbecue!" Raichlen stopped in Charlotte for a meal at Mac's Speedshop last year right after he'd completed his latest world grilling odyssey, this one covering 60 countries and 309 recipes.
Reply below and I'll enter you in a random drawing for the book (on Tuesday -- even food writers take a holiday weekend off now and then).
Until then, here are two very different sauce recipes for the book. One or the other ought to work with whatever the weekend weather throws our way.
Bourbon-Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce
From "Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue!" Raichlen calls this "the sort of barbecue sauce Kansas City pit masters have been swabbing on ribs for decades." Makes about 2 cups.
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons cider vinegar, or more as needed
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk to mix. Gradually bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until thick and flavorful, about 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinegar if necessary. Transfer to a bowl or clean jars and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, up to several weeks. Return to room temperature before using.
Sparkling Barbecue Sauce
This is from Raichlen's directions for making Puerto Rican Pork Shoulder, or Lechon Asada. That's a major undertaking (it sounds great, though). But the sauce served with the pork grabbed my attention. You could serve it with grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin.
1 cup lemon-lime soda, suc as 7UP
1 cup ketchup
1 cup of your favorite sweet red barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place the soda, ketchup and barbecue sauce in a saucepan and whisk to mix. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and let it simmer gently until thick and richly flavored, 10 to 15 minutes.