My mother’s legendary ‘Smokey Barbeque Sauce’ and ‘Tarragon and Lemon Chicken’


No barbeque is complete without my mother’s legendary smokey barbeque sauce. It’s straightforward to make and always guaranteed to please. There are certain things that you eat as a child that remain in your memory forever and this sauce is definitely one of those happy memory tastes. We were blessed with stunning weather this past weekend – for the Wimbledon finals – so having a barbeque was definitely in order. A glass of Pimms, that ubiquitous English summer tipple, a game of croquet (which is seriously addictive) all in all made for a perfect summer’s day.


Smokey Barbecue Sauce

Makes approximately 1/2 pint/300ml

25g /1oz butter

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (although my mother uses leeks as my father has an onion intolerance, which works equally well)

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

150ml/1/4 pint of water or vegetable stock

1 tbsp English mustard

2 tbsp demerara sugar

1 slice of lemon

1 bay leaf

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

5 tbsp of tomato ketchup

3 tbsp tomato puree


fresh ground pepper

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion (or leek for those with an onion intollerance) and garlic until soft and translucent.


2. Now add the vinegar, water or stock, mustard, sugar, lemon slice, bay leaf and cayenne. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the remaining ingredients with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a futher 10 minutes. I tend to leave the bay leaf in when I serve the sauce as I like the rustic, homemade quality to it.


As an alternative to simply just barbequing chicken, which is delicious in its own right, my mother’s ‘Tarragon and Lemon Chicken’ is a good alternative. It’s best to marinade the chicken for as long as possible, ideally overnight and to pierce the skin of the chicken so that the flavours can really be absorbed by the chicken. Serve with a crisp green salad and piping hot new potatoes with a dollop of butter and some chopped up fresh parsley and my mother’s legendary smokey barbeque sauce.

Tarragon and Lemon Chicken  serves 4

3.5lb whole chicken cut into pieces

5 fl oz olive oil

6 tbsp lemon juice

1 onion (or leek), finely chopped

1 large handful of fresh tarragon

1 large handful of fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly), finely chopped

few drops of tabasco

salt and pepper

lemon wedges and fresh tarragon sprigs to garnish

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and then make a few knife incisions into the chicken pieces. This is to enable the marinade to really penetrate the chicken so that it is more flavoursome when it is cooked. In a separate bowl mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, onion (or leek), the handful of tarragon and parsley and tabasco. Then add the chicken pieces and with your hands really work the marinade into the chicken pushing some of the onion and herbs into the small incisions that you have made.   Leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight.
2.  Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge for over an hour before cooking time and leave to stand at room temperature.
3.  When the barbeque is ready brush the grid with olive oil.  Drain the chicken pieces, reserving the marinade, and place chicken on the grid starting with the bony side down. Brush the chicken pieces with the marinade at intervals during cooking, remembering to turn the chicken so that it is cooked sufficiently.
4.  Barbequing the chicken takes 30 minutes. You know that the chicken is cooked when the juices run clear when pierced with a knife through the thickest part of the meat.
5.  Garnish with tarragon sprigs and serve with lemon wedges.

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