Growing up in Texas, by association we were reared to be serious about our barbecue. That and the Cowboys of course. Everyone had grills. In terms of meat and cookouts, there was quite frankly no margin for messing around. We regularly barbecued in our backyard and perhaps once a month, the family went out for the real deal. We didn't grow up eating pork ribs. In fact, I cannot remember the first time I had the pig variety. Instead, we developed an attraction to hunky chunks of beef falling off the bone brushed in thick, sweet sauce. Charred brisket was on rotation too. In Dallas, our favorite place had a gal walking around with a basket of fresh rolls. These were strategically necessary for helping clean plates. Texas Barbecue gives an entirely new meaning to finger licking good. We devoured smoky, blistered sausage dipped in sauce. My sister Michelle always opted for a whole chicken. Grilled to perfection yielding cracked, crisp skin. A bell was rung as the bird was torn apart with poultry scissors and adoringly painted in more sauce. The focus was always the meat. Accompaniments were simple: sweet corn boiled in salted water, potato salad with celery and satisfyingly ample mayonnaise and from time to time, cole slaw. Dessert was always some variety of cobbler. The fruit of course contingent on the season. 

Fast forward to now, the Breyer's favorite tradition is to barbecue. Whether it be in Florida or New York City, so it goes. My father makes an afternoon of visiting the butcher to select the different cuts and sorts. Filets, strips, Tomahawks, chorizo and fish for whomever is carnivore'd out. When the clock strikes, the boys go down to the grill with filled glasses in hand. After a phone call back upstairs to notify we kitchen chefs of progress, in due time we are all assembled around the dinner table ready to attack. Growing up in Cape Town, our lovely mother was also no stranger to cook outs. In South Africa they are called a braai, which is Afrikaans for grilling or more simply, barbecue. The braai culture is one of the most firmly established customs in this country. I believe they originated in the late 1600s to commemorate fairs and celebrations. They further evolved as folks had no choice but to cook over open fires. In due time, this activity went from an Afrikaner practice to a collectively South African one and the notion of the braai became firmly entrenched in the culture of South Africans. Today, braais are a huge part of South African tradition. Just about everyone and their brother partakes in this most marvelous pastime. Braais serve as an ideal opportunity to gather friends and family, sip outstanding wine from the region or cold ones also inherent to this great country and eat wonderful food fresh off the grill. 

Slow and steady wins the race as food is cooked over wood fires. No place for charcoal or gas here. Families and friends make afternoons and evenings of it. Traditionally, guests bring their own meat and the group goes to town. Growing up, braais were our favorites. As the parents cooked and relaxed, we swam and ran around in swimsuits. On these occasions, we sampled many a firsts during braais at the Grindley House in South Africa. Grilled lamb shanks, ostrich, springbok and kudu meat. Of course chicken, differing cuts of beef, sausage known as Boerwors and sometimes fish were also on regular rotation. Delectable sauces like peri-peri made their ways into our repertoires. In 2005, September 24 was designated National Braai Day. This falls on the same day as Heritage Day, a public holiday that serves to promote creative expression, historical inheritance, language, the food eaten as well as the great land where people live. On this day, South Africans are called to unite around fires, wave the multicolored South African flag and share in this collective heritage. If you are interested to learn more, check out the hashtag: #SteakofTheNation.

Given the Breyer's genuine eating and grilling rituals as well as the time I spent in South Africa growing up, it should come as no secret that I love to grill. Matthew's family, who hails from Eastern North Carolina, has their own vinegar based inclination towards the practice. For the two of us, I find this meal preparation a superb division of responsibilities. He takes ownership of the meat while I prepare a dish or two for solid company. Even though it is still uncomfortably warm, which has put a slight kibosh on our usually regular grilling activity, we enjoyed slightly cooler temperatures this past weekend. I so took pleasure on the front porch in the mornings with my steaming cup of Joe in hand. On Saturday evening, we made plans to fire up the grill. All week, I had an inkling to prepare my own barbecue sauce, which I must admit was a first for me. I usually whip up marinades and dressings in which our meat of choice lingers in the fridge for a pair of hours or more.

Fortuitously, I had lunch earlier in the week with a respected friend who asked if I had heard of Goetze's caramel creams. Had I? Candy kryptonite. Who doesn't hold a penchant for the lovely brown taffy sticking to their teeth. These bad boys were nearly the death of me when I had braces the first go around. She then inquired if I had ever prepared a BBQ sauce with them. While I like my sauce on the sweet side, this was most enticing. As such, I prepared the below. Other than a bit of patience stirring the caramels as they melt, this was very simple to pull together. The flavor combinations were delicious and I have to say, while this was terrific hot off the grill, the sauce was just as enjoyable after I pulled leftovers out of the fridge later that evening and again the following morning. In fact, Matthew preferred the basted chicken cold. This recipe yields a lot of sauce so perfect for back-to-back manipulation. Do me a favor and prepare the below and let me know your thoughts. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. 

Caramel Creams BBQ Sauce
Adapted from Goetze's Candy


20 unwrapped Caramel Creams - the original recipe calls for 30
1 cup of ketchup - I always use Heinz
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TBS light brown sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground mustard - I used Coleman's
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
Organic chicken, a pork tenderloin, chops, whatever you want to grill


In a large pot, add your ketchup, water, vinegar, sugar, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire and give a bit stir. Bring to a gentle simmer and let it run for approximately 5 minutes. Now reduce the heat to low and add your Caramel Creams. Stir patiently until melted and combined. This will not take too long. Take off the heat, add the vanilla, a generous pinch of salt and stir. Set aside.

Salt and pepper your meat and when on the grill, brown on both sides. When the meat is close to completion, baste both sides liberally with the sauce and let sit on the grill for a bit longer (both sides please). Once your meat is done, take off the heat and prepare to serve. Please note that I did not use this sauce for dipping as some may. I recommend serving with a savory side (I will post my potato salad recipe tomorrow) and go to town. As previously stated, the meat is the business the day following so be sure to make enough to yield leftovers. You'll thank me later.

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