Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The First One Goes to Ivan - Dad's Special Sauce

Ivan's Special BBQ Sauce - by Jane

While growing up in the 50's and 60's my dad, Ivan Heape, would barbecue for our family. Well, he didn't just barbecue for our family. When it was grilling time, he would buy $30-40 worth of meat which was a lot in those days. He purchased ribs, Boston butts, and chicken halves; enough to fill the whole kitchen table and then some. What a mess he created in the kitchen, but boy was it worth it!

The whole neighborhood of our Du Quoin, IL home benefited from the hickory smoke that came from his forest green concrete brick barbecue pit. It was an all day process - seasoning the meat, watching the fire, cooking the meat to perfection, and daubing it hourly with his famous, homemade sauce.

Grandpa Ivan - Pit Master of the Heape House

Below is our two-day long journey of recreating Dad's sauce for the first time in probably 30 years for me - no recipe for this first post, but many to come! This one we keep to ourselves, a family tradition - might be the only secret we Heapes could keep!

Day 1: Go to the store and buy everything you can fit into one cart,
more than 11 ingredients for this sauce!

Everyone loved his barbecue and looked forward to it. Trays of barbecue went to the neighbors before we had any. Now, I have passed that unique recipe, if you can call it a recipe: a box of this spice and a box of that spice, on to my daughters - but my son-in-law is most excited. He is heading up the cooking on this one!

Just dump and stir
Next: Go back to the store and
buy a bigger  pot
After a gallon of vinegar, and several entire boxes of spice - we let it simmer all. day. long. My daughter's entire house smelled of vinegar, garlic, pepper...for two days straight. Our eyes were burning, but it was a good burn. And the occasional deep breath might cause a cough attack, but it was all worth it.

Simmer, simmer, simmer...

The good news is you only have to make this recipe once a year, because it literally makes 16+ pints of sauce. Plus, it probably killed all the would-be bacteria in the house - and not one spoon was disintegrated by the spicy brew. If you are reading this and want a jar - just ask. And for any family and friends reading this, don't ask - you are already getting it for your next birthday, anniversary or Christmas.

Day 2: Canning and Cooking and Eating

After a full day of preparation and simmering, we canned the sauce and began cooking....for a full day. Just like dad, we put the meat on early and basted it hourly. The anticipation from my girls was high, they've only heard about Grandpa's "hotter than fire" BBQ (as Bruce describes it). The results...were delicious. Chicken and ribs that Dad would be proud of! And it was just like I remember it :)

Well, we didn't have to share with the neighbors as
dad used to do, but we had more than enough!

What a great way to keep Dad's memory alive. 34 years after his passing, his Special Sauce lives on and will continue to be enjoyed! I'm sure he had a good chuckle watching us stumble our way through the mystery amounts of this and that, coughing and tearing up over the bright red pot. And seriously, let us know if you want some...we still have 12 pints.