If you miss BBQ Sauce raise your hand. I am raising both of my hands actually. The flavor profile of BBQ is so hard to re-create! No tomatoes, no mustard…I had made some attempts over this last year; all in vain. I kind of feel like if it isn’t good enough to really be a stand-in, then it can actually make you miss the dish more. BBQ is one of those for me. I would rather just not eat anything that is trying to come close to real BBQ if it is not close enough. Because I really love BBQ. I am that person who made their own sauce. For years. I perfected it. My daughter’s favorite dish I have ever made is my pulled pork with homemade BBQ sauce.

You will be glad to know I made a version worth making. For real.

It requires a few ingredients you may not have. But, consider investing in them, because they will make your AIP cooking much better. One of them is smoked salt. I was at Spice Ace this weekend in San Francisco and they have quite a few smoked salts to choose from. I choose the super intense Danish Viking Smoked Salt. The kind of salt that you spend $25 for a 1/4 cup, but it will last you for months if not years because a little goes such a long way. Maldon Salt is a smoked salt that you can probably get at Whole Foods. Smoked Alderwood Salt is another one. Sur La Table is a great place to scout these things out too. Or the internet. But, the key to recreating things you miss without cheating, is to be creative and selective with your ingredients. As for this dish, the lucky strokes of genius were using smoked salt and bacon fat. Along with fresh lemon juice and tart strawberries, it was all pulled together by maple syrup into a wonderful tart, sweet and smoky sauce. Strawberries are just coming into season, so they won’t be crazy expensive. You can always use frozen ones if you can’t find fresh.

After I made the BBQ sauce, I decided to make BBQ Chicken, naturally! It was really worth the effort of tinkering with this over the last few months. I did the work so you don’t have to, and if you have been missing BBQ I really know this is worth its weight in gold.

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BBQ Chicken and Sauce!
  1. In a saucepan, add maple syrup, lemon juice, vinegar, ginger, onions, carrots, strawberries and bacon fat. Bring to boil, stir and lower to a simmer. Add smoked salt, stir until it has dissolved and taste the mixture for salt. You may need to add more. The amount of smoked salt you will add will be very organic and intuitive; add more if you like a lot of smoke flavor. I added three small pinches of my smoked salt.
  2. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until the onions and carrots are tender.
  3. Transfer to blender and (using a towel to cover the top of the blender lid so you don't burn yourself in case any flows over) blend on high until completely smooth, scraping down sides once or twice, about 2 minutes. Pour back into saucepan and bring to low simmer and cook for about 10 min. more. Will keep in fridge for up to 5 days. Freeze if you don't think you will use it all.
  4. To make chicken, Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1 Tbls of bacon fat or lard in a cast iron skillet. Brown all sides of your chicken on medium high heat on stove and sprinkle a pinch of salt on it. Chicken should be almost fully cooked, skins getting crispy. Remove from heat and spoon a good tablespoon or more of BBQ sauce on each piece of chicken. Spread on the chicken.
  5. Transfer cast iron skillet with chicken to oven and bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Check internal temperature of chicken to be sure for doneness.
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