Category Archives: Sauces

Sauce recipes and posts

Whole Hog

Whole Hog…The mother of all BBQ feats. The task that makes even the most confident backyard warrior think twice.  I decided it was time. I decided I was ready.  The results were better than I hoped for.

20140913_171501First, let me start by thanking some people.  These people were a big help with the cooking of this pig.  They helped me wrangle the pig, get the pig in the racks, move the grates and pans around, pull the pig apart once it was cooked and of course, taste test it once it was done.  A big thanks to Casey, Joel, Uncle Mark, Chad, Shane, Matt, Amy, Jill, Sarah, Carissa and everyone that was on hand to help put the rest of the shindig together.

As I posted earlier on this blog I was aiming to get my hands on a La Caja China Roasting Box…well, I got one.

20140913_161957I went with Model #2.  It is the bigger box and can handle larger pigs.  Go big or go home, right?

I ordered the pig from Kohns in London.  I asked for a 50lb pig, dressed weight, butterflied open.  “Dressed Weight” simply means all the guts and nasty bits are removed and you have a clean carcass.  “Butterflied” means they split the backbone for me so that the pig will lay flat.  When I arrived to pick up the pig it was 52lbs and they split it perfectly for me while I was there.  I highly recommend you become friends with your butcher.  I highly recommend Kohns.  Always great service and quality.

My buddy Casey was with me when we picked it up.  We put it in a big cooler with some blocks of ice to keep it cool.

20140912_143229The day before I had prepared the injection I was planning to use and the dry rub for the pig.  Because this was my first attempt and because of the hours and hours of videos I watched on Youtube regarding cooking a pig I decided to stick to a tried and true approach.  I used the injection and rub suggested by La Caja China, the makers of the box.  It is a traditional Cuban Mojo Criollo Injection and an Adobo Seasoning mix.  Both credited to Roberto Guerra of La Caja China.  I didn’t change a thing.

Mojo Criollo


  • 3 heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed sour orange juice (or 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground bay leaves


  1. Place garlic, peppercorns, and salt in a large mortar and grind with a pestle to form a paste. Stir in sour orange and pineapple juice. Add oregano, cumin, and bay leaves; stir to combine. Let stand at least 1 hour before using.


Adobo Seasoning


  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1/4 cup ground oregano
  • 4 teaspoons ground bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Mix together all ingredients in an airtight container; cover and let stand at least 12 hours before using.


The day before we planned to cook the pig I injected the pig all over but focused on the hams (back legs), shoulders (front legs), loin (attached to the ribs) and the belly meat (the..well…belly of course).

It’s worth noting that I strained the injection before I used it so any large chunks wouldn’t plug up the needle on the injector.

After injecting the pig I coated both the skin side and the open side with the seasoning blend.

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It was back into the cooler at this point for the night for the injection and spice blend to do their work.

The next morning the pig was brought out about an hour before we planned to cook it to come to room temperature as suggested in the cooking instructions for the pig.  Notice in the picture below the difference in colour of the meat.  The seasoning and injection did it’s job.


The pig was then put into the racks that came with the roasting box and closed using the “S” hooks provided.  Here is a tip for you; this is not a 1 person job.  It took 3 of us to get the hooks in place.  Two people pressing down on the side of the rack and one person placing the hooks.

Once we FINALLY had the pig in the racks it was time to enter the roasting box.


You will notice there are some wires coming out of the pig.  We attached a couple meat probes in the pig to monitor the progress as it cooked.  Next time I won’t bother.  If anything, all the probes did was add stress where none was needed.  The directions they give you right on the side of the box are all you need.  I followed them exactly and am glad I did.

We used the instructions for a 51 to 100lbs. pig.  We did this because you will notice that the pig weights on the box are based on “Live Weight” not “dressed”.  Live weight is the total weight of the pig before any cleaning or butchery is done.  Because our pig was 52lbs dressed, it was easily 60-70lbs live weight.

Once the pig is in the box, place the top charcoal grate and ash pan to seal the box.  We started with the recommended 18lbs of charcoal, placed in two piles to light.  Here is the hardest part of the cook.  You can NOT lift that lid.  For no reason.  Not even for a second for a quick peak.  JUST DON’T DO IT!


We doused in lighter fluid and let them burn until almost all of the coals were turning grey, meaning they were on fire and burning.  This took about 20 minutes.  I then spread the coals out evenly over the top of the box and began my timer.


The instruction on the side of the box calls for adding fresh charcoal every hour.  Based on the weight of our pig I added 10lbs of charcoal after 1 hour and then another 10lbs after the second hour.


You do not need to worry about starting the charcoal in a chimney or anything like that.  The already lit coals will ignite the fresh coals.  Make sure you follow the amounts on the side of the box and spread it out evenly when you add it.

The next step was to add 12 lbs of charcoal 30 minutes after the second 10lbs of charcoal was added.


30 minutes after the 12lbs were added it is time to finally see what the pig looks like.  The instructions call for you to remove the ash from the ash collection pan.  This will remove all the ash which is actually reducing the amount of heat the pig could receive.  By removing this ash we will get a very high temperature in the box which we need at this point.  We will be turning the pig over to crisp the skin.  High heat is definitely needed for this.

Lift the charcoal grate and shake to remove the ash.

20140913_162502Place the charcoal grate on the handles, remove the ash pan and dump it out.

20140913_162559Here is a tip we learned.  Make sure that when you shake the charcoal pan that you do it gently and try to keep things that can light on fire away from the box.

Now, the moment you were waiting for.  Your first peak into the box.


As you can see, the pig is nicely roasted on this side at this point.  There are areas that look dark on this picture, they weren’t burnt.  They were actually nice and crispy and tasted great.

Time to flip the pig.  Grab the rack at one end and lift.  Let the bottom slide to the opposite side of the box from where it originally was placed then lower the top end back down. This can easily be done with one person.


As you can see from the picture below, the skin side is seriously missing some colour.


Take a knife and score the skin in an “X” pattern in each of the rectangles created by the rack.  Be careful to not cut too deeply.  We just want to score the skin, not the meat.


We decided to try 2 beer can chickens in the box at this point just for fun.  They turned out awesome.

Put the ash pan back on the box and put the charcoal grate back in place.  It should take between 30-45 minutes to crisp the skin.  Check the skin after 30 minutes.  If it is not done to your liking, cook for another 15 minutes.

Here is what our pig looked like.


Take the pig out of the cooker, remove it from the rack and let rest for about 30 minutes.

You will need a heat resistant pair of gloves for the next part.  Separate the pig and pull the meat from the carcass and serve.  The meat will be so tender you will not need any type of knives or tools for this.  The only thing I used was a cleaver to make cutting up the crispy skin easier.  The skin was awesome.  Glass shatteringly crispy and tasty.

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Start to finish the pig took 4 hours and 45 minutes. It was relatively easy to do and everyone loved the pig.  I would change absolutely nothing.

Serve with some nice salads, buns to make sandwiches, mustard and sauces and enjoy!



BBQ Sauce


A good BBQ Sauce can make good BBQ great and a great BBQ Sauce can make great BBQ amazing.  The trick? Realizing that BBQ sauce is a personal taste thing and not everyone will like the same sauce.  The solution? Experimentation.  Try a sauce and see what everyone thinks.  The best advise (in my opinion) I give anyone on topics like this is to ask people who you know won’t sugar coat their words or their opinions on your creations.  Guess what, if I ask my Grandmother what she thinks of anything I make, she’s going to “love” it. Great for the ego, but not great for finding something that works.  We should be working towards creating a sauce that will have enough layers of flavour that your whole family will find something they like in it.

For example…If I make a sauce that is nothing but all sweet flavours, someone like myself who prefers savory and spicy flavours probably wont enjoy it.  If I make a sauce that is nothing but pure heat, then anyone with a sensitive tongue is going to be looking for the closest faucet to wash the sauce off.  Now, if I make a sauce that is sweet, has a hint of savory elements and has a little kick of heat at the end, I’ve found a winner for my house.  Your house, your flavours.

Here is the basics.  You need to decide on the type of sauce you want to make.  You can Google “BBQ Sauce” and you are going to see terms like Kansas City Style, Memphis Style, Carolina Style, Texas Style, etc.  The differences in these sauces is mainly what they use as their base, or main ingredient.

There are 3 main bases that most BBQ sauces start from.  Tomato or Ketchup, Vinegar and Mustard.

Choose the base you think will work for you.


Now take this nugget of information as a hint on where most people in Ontario (and Canada for that matter) find their tastes directing them. Go to the grocery store and hit the BBQ Sauce isle. Try to find ANY sauce that isn’t a tomato based sauce.  See any?  Probably not.  The people in our neck of the woods traditionally are suckers for thick, mahogany red, sweet and sticky BBQ sauces.  Sure, you can get garlic, spicy, honey, whiskey, etc. but guess what they all have in common?  Red. Sweet. Thick. Tomato.

Here’s a rough guide to your choice…  Tomato for almost all sauces including those you put on the meat as it cooks so it gets nice and caramelized and sticky.  Vinegar if you don’t like sweet at all and want something “zippy” and more of a finishing sauce you mix into the meat at the end or dunk your meat in as you eat.  Mustard if you are looking for a more savory sauce.  Now this is REALLY rough.  You can definitely make a sweet vinegar sauce or a savory tomato sauce.

Here’s another thing to consider.  Pick up any tomato based sauce in the grocery store and look at the ingredients.  Know what you are gonna see? Vinegar.  I almost guarantee it.  You don’t have to limit yourself to one and done.  Mix and match!  And don’t be afraid to go beyond straight Heinz ketchup, White Distilled Vinegar and French’s Yellow Mustard.  There are plenty of varieties of each base out there.  Open up your mind to Cider or Rice Wine Vinegar, Grainy or Dijon Mustard, etc. You will be happy you did.

Now that you have your base, decide what you want it to taste like.

Want it sweet?  Here are a list of things you could add to the sauce to sweeten the works up:

Sugar (brown, white, raw, maple), Honey, Maple Syrup, Corn Syrup.  Those are the usual culprits.  But don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.  Have a few peaches lying around that you haven’t eaten yet?  Cook em up, blend them and throw them in!  I’ve seen TONS of fruit based sauces.  Blueberry, Pineapple, Peach, Mango, etc.  Have something else in mind? Use it!  In the words of the Urban Peasant, James Barber: “If you like it, put it in. If you don’t, leave it out!”.


These are ingredients that are used to build a flavour base in sauces, stews, soups, whatever.  In the BBQ sauce world onions and garlic reign supreme as well as some strong herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme.  These are only a few of literally hundreds you can choose from.  In most sauces you won’t be able to pin point the onion flavour, or the garlic, or the other vegetables and herbs used to build that base but trust me, you would notice something was missing if I lined two sauces up side by side and one didn’t have them in there.  Choose the aromatics that you think will go well with the base you picked and the overall goal of the sauce.  Want something sweet?  Caramelize a sweet onion until they are nice and brown and full of sweet flavour as your base.  Want something savory? Just sweat the onions until soft, toss in some power herbs like rosemary and thyme.  Want some heat?  Pull out the jalapenos or chipotle peppers.  The choices and combinations here are limitless.


This is where you take the sauce and truly customize it.  Some spices will instantly transform your sauce from generic to truly unique.  Because of this you need to be a bit careful in what you add but you also can’t be afraid of adding enough to make it stand out.  For example, if I want to make a curry style BBQ sauce but only add a 1/2 teaspoon to 4 cups of sauce you might notice it but probably not as a main flavour.  Now, in my opinion, if you are making a curry BBQ sauce it better taste like curry.  Toss in a couple tablespoons.  Want a sweet and savory sauce?  Cinnamon, clove, mace, ginger, etc.  Spicy? Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Red Chili Flakes…  Mix and match here.  The place where you need to be careful however is in the quantity.  Something like 2 tablespoons of cinnamon in a couple cups of sauce will make everyone think they are eating a Cinnabon.  I think you get the picture.

Experimentation here is key.



The sky is the limit here.  This is where you can add Whiskey, Tequila, Rum, Beer any type of booze.  Apple, Pineapple, Peach or any fruit juice.   Coca-cola, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, any soda.  Again.  If you are trying to impart a flavour, go for it.  Don’t be shy!

Hot and Cold.  Meat or No Meat. The Meat Itself.

Here is something that blew me away when I realized it.  It blew me away because I didn’t realize it sooner and made me feel stupid for not.  Your sauce will taste different cold than hot.  It will also taste different on meat than on your finger or a spoon.  Simple right?  Took me a long time to figure this one out.  Try taking a big whiff of a sauce as you cook it with a good amount of vinegar in it.  It will take your breath away.  Let it cool and put it on some pork and it will be mellow and delicious.  Take a small spoonful of a sauce you are trying to make spicy.  Not that spicy yet?  Let it cool and meld into the sauce for a couple hours and poof, it will blow your head off.    Making a sauce for a beef roast you have on the rotisserie?  Why test it on a piece of chicken?  Making a nice mustard based dipping sauce for the ham you have in the oven?  Have a couple slices of ham ready to go to drip some sauce onto to test it out and see what it needs.  Morale of the story…If you are creating a sauce, make sure you test it out in the application you plan to use it.

Now, for the people who have eaten our BBQ Team’s food in the past and have literally begged us for the recipe.  I’m sure some of you saw this post and were hoping against the odds that I was about to spill the beans on our BBQ Team’s sauce.  The one we have won championships with.  The one that got us our invitation to the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational BBQ.  The one that only 3 people on the planet knows how to make.  I obviously won’t be sharing that, sorry!

But here is what I can tell you.  It’s ketchup based.  Sweet with a bit of heat.  That’s all you’re getting.

Want a recipe that most people will like?  Here is one that will hit a lot of taste buds out there and work as a very good all purpose sauce for all meats.

If you have a question about sauces in general or the sauce below, please do not hesitate to ask!


Dr. Pepper Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce



2 cups Ketchup

2/3 cup Brown Mustard

2 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

(look all 3 bases!)

2 cup Brown Sugar (the sweetener)


6 cloves Garlic, Minced

1/2 a Sweet Onion, Caramelized

2 Chipotle Peppers Packed In Adobo (want it spicier? add 3 or 4 or 5…its up to you)


1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste


1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

2 cans Dr. Pepper


  1. Place all of the BASE ingredients in a big pot and bring to a gently boil over medium high heat. Make sure you stir this stuff constantly.  It will burn if you don’t.
  2. In a frying pan, caramelize onions over medium heat until dark brown and sweet.
  3. Place the onions and the rest of the aromatics in a food processor or blender and puree. Add to the pot with the BASE ingredients.
  5. Continue to gently boil until the sauce reduces and thickens up.  About 30 minutes.
  6. Because of the ketchup there is probably a gross looking red film on the top of the sauce.  Spoon this off and throw out.
  7. Let cool completely and bottle.
  8. Put on your favourite meats and enjoy!