Food You Can Eat: Barbecue Sauce and Burgers

Yes, that is a home made dill pickle from my garden. Why do you ask?

First things first:  This is another recipe for the family recipe book, so I don’t want to hear shit from anyone about how this isn’t “real barbeque sauce” or “that’s not how you spell “barbeque”, because that’s not the point of this recipe.  I will tell you, however, that the sauce is a most-excellent taste of nostalgia for me so check your barbeque snobbery at the door.

A Caveat before we get started:  The recipe calls for Worcestershire sauce, but Mrs. Butcher refuses to eat anything that contains this as an ingredient.  So, I subbed in about a teaspoon of anchovy paste and it proved a workable substitute.  I also used apple cider vinegar, although I’m willing to bet that in the 50’s, when this recipe was given to my grandmother by her sister-in-law, the inference was white vinegar.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Med. Onion, chopped

3 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tbsp. Sugar

1 tsp. Dry Mustard

1 tsp. Paprika

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Pepper

½ Cup Ketchup

½ Cup Water

¼ Cup Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1-2 Lbs. Ground Beef

Form ground beef into patties and grill to medium-rare.

While burgers are grilling, brown onions slightly in butter over medium heat.  Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.  The sauce will turn from a fairly bright red to a darker maroon as everything carmelizes.

This is how it should look after simmering.

Pour sauce over burgers and bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes.  Well, that’s what the recipe says, but fuck that shit.  Bake them for 15 minutes, tops.  The burgers should not, must not, WILL NOT be overcooked, do you hear me?

This is a dish with six, 1/3 pound burgers, so you have an idea of the scale compared to the sauce.

Serve with your favorite summertime side dishes.  Acceptable options include, corn, pasta salad, potato salad and dill pickles.  Keep your garbage sweet pickles in the garbage where they belong.

About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 557 Articles
When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.


  1. I have a similar recipe (checks schedule) tomorrow, as far as the sauce goes. Thank you for preemptively clarifying that BBQ can be many things. I love your Grandmother’s recipes – please keep them coming!

  2. So, do you grill the burgers then bake them?

    • Yup–at least for this recipe–but keep in mind that they should only be grilled to medium rare so that they don’t get cooked into oblivion when baking them.

  3. Hmmm. You grill the burgers, top with a red sauce, and then bake them. This seems awfully familiar. Do you happen to know if that sister-in-law of your grandmother’s was of eastern European descent? I’m just curious, and I’m going to be slightly haunted trying to remember why (or even how) I’m associating this with the Austro-Hungarian empire. 

    In any event, I’m with you, this sounds excellent, naysayers be damned. I’m also not a big fan of sweet pickles, but you can use them to make relish (and tartar sauce) if SOMEONE comes home with a big jar of them.

    • No, no, no, no, no.  NO.  Sweet pickle relish is an abomination unto God and Nature.  Only dill relish is acceptable–unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find because food manufacturers are stupid.

      I’ll have to look up her maiden name to see what her ancestry was.

    • Her maiden name was Smith, so my guess is if there was an Eastern European ancestry, it’s at least one generation back from her.

      • Or someone pulled the old Ellis Island switcheroo at some point. “Yeah, whatever, your name’s Smith from now on.” Maybe this is a tried-and-true mid-century American favorite. But I can almost see myself eating this. I’m in a restaurant and I’m not in New York. I don’t think the Better Half is with me. I used to go to Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago in the 80s and new-boyfriend BH would ship me off alone, because I’d be staying with cronies…

        Anyway, none of this matters. As long as the food tastes good it doesn’t matter where it came from, so thanks for this.

        As for the sweet pickles, I’d like to know what you would do if Mrs. Butcher brought home a 32-oz. jar of the sliced kind, they’ve been taking up valuable space for weeks untouched, and yet Mrs. Butcher has been keeping an eye on them so you can’t just surreptitiously drop them in the nearest sidewalk trash can…

        • Actually, there is a long and storied history of surreptitiously dumping crap that Mrs. Butcher has brought home because she was going to “use” it (is rarely food, but can be on occasion), and then it sat for fucking years until either I or Oldest Step-Daughter just threw it out.  Mrs. Butcher never catches on.

          • You’re lucky. Better Half has a gift. I used to buy all the food and stock the bar and the wine fridge. I knew what and where everything was. Then, pandemic paranoia set in, and then the health problems and mobility issues, so the task fell to him. His organizational system makes sense only to him, but he’s on top of it. It helps/hurts that we haven’t had anyone over in 16 months.

            But he has an eagle eye. For example in The Secret Underground Lair I have many, many, many books. When we had people over I’d rotate a few of them so they would notice them in “the public rooms,” sometimes as inside jokes, sometimes because I thought they’d be interested. I still do this out of boredom and nostalgia, even though even we never use the living room anymore, let alone squeeze a few people in who might cast an admiring glance at, oh, I don’t know, Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. But we go into the living room to open and close the shades and just two days ago BH asked, “Why did you move a copy of Mildred Pierce out on the coffee table? And why is there that huge biography of the Queen Mother on the end table?”

        • Interesting fact – not a single name was ever changed at Ellis Island. A lot of immigrants used that as an excuse when they changed their names to assimilate. And paymasters were known to sometimes change names too. The museum on Ellis Island has meticulously kept records of the ship manifests and their own documents from that time, they all match. There’s a documentary called The Sweetest Sound about the psychological importance of our names and they talk about the Ellis Island myth. 

    • Yeah this recipe reads like what my great aunts who came over from Serbia/Hungary/Germany cooked.

      I say that because I grew up being told they were Hungarian but they lived in Germany for several years after leaving what is modern day Serbia before eventually emigrating to the US. 

  4. I protest.  I love sweet pickles!!

    • I’m with YOU, Manchu–i will never discriminate against any particular pickle variety on flavor!!!
      (Texture, on the other hand, will 100% have a brand-new [cold!] jar’s contents land immediately food disposal, though!🤢
      Just tossed a brand new jar last week, when the “pickles” inside it were a sad, mushy, non-crunchy MESS!🙃)

      • Bread and Butter pickles rock! And half-sours, and cornichons.

      • I don’t like sweet pickles, but texture is also important. I now often think about this video when I bite into a pickle.

        • This is the PERFECT thing to describe it!😁😁😁
          (And seriously, the noises he made at the beginning were the EXACT same ones I did, the last two times I got bad jars of pickles!😆😂🤣🤣🤣)

    • You are clearly defective and need to be sent back to the factory for repair.

  5. This sounds very much like my own grandmother’s recipe for “BBQ beef” aka sloppy joes. The main difference being that she cooked ground beef separately and then crumbled it into the sauce, then simmered it for an hour or so.

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