Smooth and Smokey Barbecue Sauce
Yield: approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1/4 c water
1 c ketchup
5 T molasses
2 T cider vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teas liquid smoke (optional, see note)
1 teas hot pepper sauce (or less)
1/4 teas ground black pepper
2 T vegetable oil
1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teas)
1 teas chili powder
1/4 teas cayenne pepper (or less)
In a food processor or blender process the onion with the water until the mixture resembles slush. This will make you cry unless you have swim goggles on. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, pressing on the solids to extract liquid until you have 1/2 c onion juice. Discard or compost the solids.
Whisk the onion juice, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, liquid smoke, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper together in a medium bowl (or if your liquid measuring cup is big enough, mix it in there to save dish washing).
Heat the oil in a large saucepan (nonreactive) over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the ketchup mixture and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the flavors meld and the sauce thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Cool. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen.
Cook's Illustrated did a test on liquid smoke and found that most are full of who-knows-what chemicals to approximate the flavor of smoke. I believe Wright's brand uses a kind of still to extract smoke flavor so buy that brand if you want smoky sauce.