Local, homemade barbecue sauces

By Ann Trieger

"For many of us, when we fire up the grill it’s time to slather on the barbecue sauce. A sauce’s tangy and zesty flavors can embolden chicken or steak and give a distinctive character to hunky beef ribs.

There’s a myriad of barbecue sauces on store shelves, but many have unsavory ingredients to give the sauce thickness and fake smoky flavors. When you have the time, make your own. But when you don’t, here are two recommendations, both produced by local residents who took their homemade barbecue sauce to the next level: Bootsy BBQ Everything Sauce and Our Favorite.

When Medford native Dan Brown was a kid, his grandfather and great uncle had a secret barbecue sauce they’d use for family gatherings. When Brown came of age, the secret was passed down to him. In remembrance of his grandfather, Al Bootsy Brown, a saxophone player in his own band who passed away in 1975, Brown further developed the recipe and founded Bootsy BBQ Everything Sauce. The label honors his musicianship.

The sauce, rich and zingy, is packed with spices like chili pepper and cloves, and made with natural ingredients including tamarind, agave nectar, anchovies, and molasses and omega3 oil. Because of its ingredients, the sauce has appealed to the buyers at Whole Foods Markets. The stores stock the sauce and some are even selling Bootsy Burgers in the meat case — a ground beef patty mixed with Bootsy sauce.

“That’s why we call it an everything sauce. You can also use it straight up for cooking or dipping or create your own sauces based on Bootsy,” says Brown, who now lives in Revere and like his grandfather, is also a musician.

His musical contacts have also helped launch Bootsy. Recently, Johnny D’s, a music club and restaurant in Somerville, held a Bootsy night. They served Bootsy burgers and pulled-chicken sliders drenched in Bootsy sauce.

A similar kitchen-to-market thing has been happening more recently in Dedham. Dave Sheehan’s barbecue sauce and salad dressing were so delicious his family and friends told him for years he should market them. Although he and his wife, Cherylann, both have full time jobs, they finally did about a year ago.

Dedham residents, they rented the kitchen at the Italian-American Club in their town, took a food safety course, got a food-processing license and forged ahead with their side venture. Their company, Our Favorite, was born.

Not long ago, Cherylann took the day off from work — she’s a lawyer — and showed the sauces to six different retailers. When they tasted them, five out of the six said “yes.” They loved the dressing and the barbecue sauce that’s made with tomato paste, balsamic vinegar and herbs, like dill and oregano, and spices, including celery seed and allspice.

“It’s a tangy sauce, not hot and spicy. I use it mostly for grilling,” says Dave, who works at Northeastern University.

Now you can find the sauces at Allandale Farm in Brookline, Russo’s in Watertown and various markets in Dedham.

Ann Trieger is a member of WGBH’s Kitchen Crew, testing our Daily Dish recipes and posting the results. "

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