Barbecue sauce is a contentious subject. Styles vary depending on region, and recipes are closely guarded and hotly defended by barbecue aficionados. South Carolina Gold is mustard-based while Alabama prefers a mayonnaise and vinegar-based white sauce. Pitmasters in each region would probably contend that their version is the best in the world, but just one man can claim that title: New Jersey-based pitmaster Ray Sheehan.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that, at a recent international barbecue competition in Louisiana, Sheehan’s Memphis Mop BBQ Sauce won the title of “Best BBQ Sauce in the World.” He’s also the author of a new book called Award-Winning BBQ Sauces and How to Use Them, and a judge for the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
Sheehan leaves out artificial ingredients like thickeners or sweeteners and says that his sauces take a lot of experimentation to get right. In his book, he writes that the perfect barbecue sauce should be balanced between sweet and spicy, but it should have a kick that leaves “the flavors lingering on your palate.”
His award-winning Memphis Mop recipe includes mustard, Heinz ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar, among other ingredients. He also adds hickory liquid smoke at the end to give it that much-needed signature smoky barbecue flavor. Best of all, it only needs to simmer 25 minutes before it’s ready to slather on your favorite grilled or smoked meats.
If you’re spending lockdown grilling in the backyard, perfecting your barbecue sauce recipe under Sheehan’s tutelage isn’t a bad way to spend your time. Of course, if you’d rather stick to cooking steaks and leave the sauce to the experts, Sheehan sells his very own line called BBQ Buddha.