barbecue sauces

cookery chat with david & sandra biddle

10: bbq sauces

In July we took our planned trip and moved the boat to our new CRT mooring at Foxton Locks. The trip would usually take two or maybe three days – but we decided to do it at a leisurely pace of seven days! Stocked up with provisions we headed off early Saturday and purposely boated by our favourite canalside pub in Braunston and through the locks hoping we wouldn’t get held up.

Everything was fine and we partnered up with a great couple. The tunnel was another matter, we encountered TWELVE boats coming the other way!! We moored up soon after and opened a much needed bottle of wine.

You know we are no wine snobs – in fact we like a range of wines and go for flavour rather than label and price! Our favourite wines are red full-bodied and we get most of our wine in bulk from Naked Wines and Majestic Wines who are now the owners of Naked. Just before our trip we were invited to our monthly wine tasting session at the local Majestic wine shop in Market Harborough and during this pleasant and free flowing alcoholic evening we tried an amazing wine. We promptly ordered three cases to be delivered and also purchased twelve bottles to take home with us – ready for the boat trip. This wine has an awful name and a rubbish label – but tastes delicious – it is called ‘The Guvnor’. The only problem being is that it is so tasty you just have to finish the bottle and more!!

The trip up the Watford Locks the next day was a bit of a blur due to too much wine, but afterwards we started our 23 miles or so of ‘lockless’ water. This stretch of canal is one of our favourite waterways. Stopping off and mooring up at many places, including a night at Welford was pure heaven and the weather was also quite good.

We decided not to set up the BBQ, but to cook onboard and dine out whenever possible. Our meal at the Wharf Inn at Welford was really good and not badly priced. Unfortunately the real Ales got the better of me and I had a bit of a wobbly walk back!

On route to Foxton Sandra and I discussed how many people BBQ in the summer months, we laughed at the times things had gone disastrously wrong – over cooking and undercooking the meat and the long drawn out process of trying to serve everyone at least some food throughout the evening.You might guess that this form of cooking isn’t our favourite – however, boring charcoaled food can be turned into something with taste and style by introducing good marinate ‘rubs’, as the Americans call them and sauces. So, we thought we would share with you a few of our favourites which are sure to delight your palates. 

‘Rubs’ are basically dry ingredients you rub over your meats and then leave for the flavours to infuse. Best to do this in the morning ready for the evening BBQ.

Marinates are the same – but these are liquid forms and again, you leave these to allow the meat to take the flavours.

BBQ sauces are used to coat the meats and vegetables whilst they are cooking. They help to impart more flavour, but more importantly they keep the meats juicy.

BBQ sauce with a twist

  • 3 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder (optional) or use finely diced fresh onion
  • 1 tablespoon of red chilli flakes or powder
  • ​1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup of tomato ketchup

This makes enough for a number of BBQ’s – but you can always reduce the quantities

Tow path scrounger BBQ sauce

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries or you could use other berries
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can sub vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons blackberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli powder


  1. Add blackberries and chicken stock to a medium pot over high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until blackberries start to break down, about 6-7 minutes
  2. Mash blackberries well in the pan. Then let the blackberry mixture cool. I f you have a blender on board blend well.
  3. Press blackberries through a mesh strainer to remove seeds. Add sauce back to pot and bring back to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Add other ingredients to the pot and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, or until sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  5. Taste and season BBQ sauce with salt as needed.
  6. Allow sauce to cool.
  7. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

makes 3 to 4 BBQ portions of sauce


BBQ ‘Rub’ mixture

  • 3 tsp Paprika
  • 3 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of mustard powder
  • ½ tsp of black pepper
  • ½ tsp of coriander powder
  • ½ tsp of oregano

If you have a large BBQ with lots of meats – increase proportionately the above. You can always keep this in an air tight container and use as required through the summer months.