After much pleading and prodding, Ole shares his secret sauce: Homemade South Carolina Style Mustard Barbecue Sauce. Or does he? Getting this recipe was like pulling teeth, and I’m pretty sure we have an impacted molar still hiding in there somewhere. Read on for barbecue wisdom.
In the summer of 2003 I pulled the trigger. I was a lifelong (26 whole years) resident of Minnesota. I had a college degree, an honest job, a trendy apartment in uptown Minneapolis, but I wasn’t done learning. I wanted to get a graduate degree and had decided that I needed to move far away in order to focus on studying. I got a late start in the application process and applied to the only school I could find that hadn’t shuttered the registrar’s desk for the semester. I was accepted, and in August with my new girlfriend’s help I packed up everything I owned in a trailer and moved to Columbia, SC.
I learned quickly that South Carolina is not Minnesota. The folks moved slower, the wind never blew, and the barbecue sauce was yellow. The first two took some getting used to, but the sauce was an instant love. Columbia is situated in a very tiny region of the country that believes BBQ sauce is best made with mustard. The area is bordered to the north by the vinegar-and-pepper sauce enthusiasts and to the west by the more standard ketchup-based sauce believers. Because of this fact, this strange mustard sauce remains fairly unpopular or unknown outside of its home region.
Mustard sauce is not something that an unwitting stranger would deliberately seek out. It isn’t attractive, per se, and it has a distinct pungent aroma to it. Plus, the very concept of mustard can be a turn-off to many people. In fact, some people have to be forced to try it. The bright yellow sauce itself is incredibly tangy, but well balanced with brown/palm sugar and a few other simple ingredients and when it’s glazed onto a well-smoked pork rib or shoulder the experience is game changing for those accustomed to the boring sweet red sauce so commonly found with babecue outside of the South. (Sorry, Kansas and, um, large portions of Texas.)
South Carolina didn’t last long for me. By the end of the first school year I was engaged to that girlfriend who had stayed behind in MN and I had been accepted to a great program in St. Paul, so I packed up and moved back. I had a great time in South Carolina, but it’s hard to keep Minnesotans away from home for long. Whenever I’m missing the South, I just fire up the smoker and make up a batch of mustard sauce. All the flavor and a cooling Minnesota breeze.
Notes from Shaina:
- I had to go back and forth with Ole multiple times in the last 4 years to get this recipe to come to light. Even when he had agreed, I still had at least three conversations where I called him out on leaving things out.
- Like any good barbecue recipe, ingredients are going to make a big difference in the end product here. The type of yellow mustard you use, the apple cider vinegar of your choosing, the particular brand of hot sauce or whether you make it yourself all come into play. Keep this in mind and come up with a barbecue sauce that is all your own.
- Here in MN, mustard barbecue is a bit prodigious. People look at it slathered on the pork as if you’ve poisoned the meat (incidentally, the meat can appear a bit green when the pink smoke ring and the bright yellow mustard sauce mix). Then they taste it, ever so gingerly, and they can’t help but ask for the recipe. To their dismay, my husband will say no. Until now.
- While you can eat this right after you make it, the flavors improve with age. Make it at least a day ahead of time for best results.
- You don’t make vinegar-based coleslaw to top your barbecue pork sandwich? I’m sorry. You are missing out on greatness.
- Those baked beans can be found over on Food Fanatic today, along with a little giveaway for a Crock-Pot Connectable Entertaining Set you should probably enter to win.
- Make extra. Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup palm sugar packed (can substitute brown sugar)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Louisiana-style hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sweat briefly, about 30 seconds. Pour in the yellow mustard, palm sugar, apple cider vinegar, and the hot sauce. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth, and then season with salt and black pepper.
Serve with your favorite barbecued meats. Baste ribs with it on a medium grill flipping and continuing to baste until the ribs are hot and the sauce is caramelized. Add it to smoked shredded pork shoulder until coated with extra on the side. This will keep for up to a month in an airtight container.
Makes 8 servings.
This post is dedicated to all of our friends made in South Carolina (John Bolten, I’m lookin’ at you), our family still there (hi, Nate and Vanessa, Amy and Dan!), and Trudy, who can’t wait wait to head back.