Every summer, I promise that I’m going to tell you about this shortcut barbecue sauce I use when I don’t have it in me to bring home 11 bottles and jars plus 2 vegetables for what I consider the ultimate, Queen Ina’s. I love that one, regardless. I make it every year or two and I freeze it in 1-cup packages. Sometimes, like last summer, I completely forget to freeze it and find it in the fridge 8 months later and it’s completely and totally fine to eat? It’s pretty magical like that. But it’s not simple. And most of the time, when it’s just weeknight chicken or tofu skewers on the grill or even as a base for what I call Fake Baked Beans (more on this at the end), three ingredients is all you need, plus up to two more to your tastes. Don’t look askance at me; I bet you already have them all.
What I never did is tell you what those ingredients are, really rather rude of me, so let’s fix that. The foundation is a mostly equal proportion of ketchup, molasses, and apple cider vinegar. Stir these in a bowl and look at that: you’re done. We don’t even need to simmer this. This is the best rushed dinner thing, ever. From there, you add shakes of hot sauce (Tabasco, Sriracha, Cholula, Chimay, whatever you love), and a spoonful of fish sauce or Worcestershire (note: this is no longer vegetarian once you add these) for a salty/fermented vibe. Salt will probably be unnecessary, but you can add it to taste, and pepper too. The sauce is a little thinner than the bottled stuff but this, to me, just means that it gets into your food better, praise be. If you, like me, are sad that summer feels like it just began but September is already way too close for comfort, things like this — quick, easy, deeply summery things that don’t take time away from all the other deeply summery things you’d like to be doing (swimming, naps after swimming, repeat) — are exactly what we need right now.