looking on the bright side of life: barbecue sauce - sweet, sour and very sticky!

chicken wings in barbecue marinade
One of the most delicious side effects of the awful economic climate is the rise of street food and pop-up restaurants in London. There is a definitely an increase in young and creative chefs prepared to test the waters with food trucks, vans and market stalls (rather than the precariousness of opening a restaurant) serving fabulous street food from around the world. The street food scene here in London is vibrant and exciting and I say hurrah for that!

Two of my favourites are Pitt Cue Co, which has now actually opened a restaurant in Soho, and Anna Mae's Smokehouse, which can be found across London, including Kings Cross. They are bringing the joys of good American-style barbecue to a cruelly underserved British public.

Although to be fair, the British haven't really had much exposure to genuine barbecue, usually just slathering some meat with a sweet tomato sauce and slapping the meat on a grill (more often indoors as a result of our bloody weather!) But increasingly, people are interested in the recipes using different types of rubs and marinades, as well as cooking techniques using indirect heat and smoke.

Well I can't do the smoke or even a barbecue grill. But this was my offering at a recent Jubilee party, which was held indoors as a result of the gales raging outside. It is, in my opinion, just a very nice barbecue sauce, which is perfect for dipping and works really well as a marinade too.

I added some flat Coca Cola to my barbecue sauce. It may seem like an odd ingredient, but its flavours work really well. Coke is made up a variety of aromatic flavours including fruity lemon, lime and bitter orange as well as vanilla and cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander. This in fact makes it the perfect addition to a sweet and aromatic barbecue sauce!

Skill level: Easy

spice infusion
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp juniper berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 x red chillies, roughly chopped
1 x small cinnamon stick
4 x cloves
4 x star anise
1 tsp English mustard powder
4-5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 x onions, finely chopped
4 x garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
4 x tomatoes, roughly chopped
5-6 drops Tabasco® Sauce
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 tbsp honey
juice of 2 x limes
200ml flat Coca Cola
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (or cider or white wine vinegar)


  1. Make up your spice bag to infuse the marinade. You can buy special muslin bags or metal tea infusers from specialist shops. I just used a piece of a clean (unused) J-Cloth and tied it tightly with string! I also give the spices a bit of a bash before making up the spice bag as it helps to release all the flavours into the marinade.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized lidded saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, smoked paprika, cayenne, paprika and salt, together with the spice bag. Cook on a low to medium heat (with the lid on) for about 20 minutes, until the onions have softened.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the tomatoes and Tabasco. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato ketchup, tomato paste, honey, lime juice, Coca-Cola, soy sauce, Worcestershire Sauce and sherry vinegar. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce the sauce over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Remove the spice bag and discard. Transfer the thickened marinade to a blender and whizz up until smooth. Set aside to cool.

marinated chicken wings

  1. Snip off the wing tips, then cut the wings in half. Put the chicken wings in a shallow dish and pour over enough marinade to coat. Turn the wings in the marinade to ensure that they are well coated. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Before cooking, bring the chicken wings back to room temperature. They can be grilled on the barbecue or baked in the oven (about 20 minutes at 200C / Gas Mark 6). I grilled mine for about 15 minutes, turning once, until they were cooked through.
  3. Serve with extra barbecue sauce to dip. (Don't use any of the marinade that the chicken has been sitting in; this should be thrown away.) 


Jaime said...

You have really put me into a barbecue mode!! Sounds absolutely yummy and tempting! x

Miss South said...

Oh gorgeous! A friend from Missouri just brought me some barbeque sauce and I want to use it as a base as it's not deep enough for me and this is perfect.

And I've got some woodchips so can give the chicken wings a smokiness too! Who needs sun?