A few days ago, we were making chicken tacos, and Bobby asked me "Hey, can you make some taco sauce, something like Taco Bells hot sauce?"
I thought for a few seconds, confirmed we had some ingredients, and said "Yeah, I can do that, no problem".
You can make almost any kind of sauce by combining various flavors and seasonings in the 4,3,2,1 formula.
Your basic inputs are "sweet" "hot" "salty" "savory" "sour" and "spices/seasonings", and elements which are blends of the above (for example ketchup is sweet, salty, and savory... but mostly sweet).
You want a moderately hot "taco sauce", it's 4 sweet, 3 hot, 2 "savory", and 1 "spices".
- 4tbsp - Heinz ketchup (gotta be heinz. it's the flavor and texture profile)
- 3tbsp - Franks Red Hot (it's the right balance of hot, sour, and salty)
- 2tbsp - "zesty" italian dressing
- 1tbsp - Spices to taste, but including cumin, and chili powder (chipotle powder in this case)
That particular 4,3,2,1 combo makes a really great taco sauce... Somewhere a bit over Taco Bell "hot" sauce in heat, but smokier, more savory, more flavorful overall.
If you want something sweeter and smokier, change it up from ketchup to a tomato based BBQ sauce.
Want it a bit saltier and "meatier"? add a dash of soy and a dash of worcestershire.
Want it a LOT saltier and meatier and less sweet? Replace the italian dressing, with A1 sauce.
Want it a lot more savory and pungent? Replace the italian dressing with dijon mustard.
You can make any flavor profile you want.
Want a much better and spicier than store bought BBQ sauce, but don't feel like brewing your own?
- 4tbsp very sweet and smoky BBQ sauce (e.g. K.C. masterpiece)
- 3tbsp franks red hot
- 2tbsp A1 sauce
- 1tbsp of mixed dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, cumin, black pepper, and chipotle powder.
For some real fun, take that mix, add 4tbsp of ketchup, two shots of espresso (brewed not grounds), 2tbsp real dark maple syrup (the fake stuff doesn't have enough flavor), and 1 more tbsp of dijon...
...then simmer it all out for 20 minutes or so.
You'll thank me for it.