To Cook is to Love: Springtime and Cookouts in New England

John VerlindenJohn Verlinden
Photo: Rachel Power
John Verlinden

John Verlinden
Photo: Rachel Power

By: John Verlinden*/TRT Food Columnist–

Yay! It’s finally here! What a long, hard winter. I don’t think I’ve ever been more anxious for spring than this year. Perhaps my favorite thing about the warmer weather is the outdoor living we get to enjoy here in New England. It’s hard to imagine a better place to live if you enjoy cooking, dining and relaxing with friends and family outside.

Cookouts are my favorite spring and summer activities. I fire up the grill as soon as the weather turns nice, and it doesn’t go dark until the first snow. And, I make up the first of many batches of my favorite barbecue sauce for La Fiesta día de la Madre (the Mother’s Day Feast), our first big outdoor party of the season. This delicious sauce from my new book “To Cook is to Love,” is a merger of Mid-Western and Latin flavors – it’s sweet and sour, smoky and spicy. You are going to love it! Use it in burgers and beans for that great barbecue flavor, it’s ideal for basting chicken and ribs and it’s a great dipping sauce to accompany steaks and grilled fish. Give it a try at your next cookout, and get ready for lots of compliments.

Salsa Barbacoa (Barbecue Sauce)            

Yield: About 2 quarts

¼ cup olive oil

1 large onion (peeled & coarsely chopped)

1 large green pepper (cored, seeded & coarsely chopped)

6 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 2-ounce can chipotle peppers

2 28-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 cup molasses

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add the onion and green pepper and cook for about three minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the garlic and dry spices, and sauté for about two more minutes or until the onion is translucent and tender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook slowly for about one hour.
  3. Remove from heat, set aside to cool and store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.

This sauce will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for future use.

*Share your favorite barbecue spice ribs and sauces, ask a question or suggest a topic for a future article – contact me: or visit and join our Latin food forum.

banner ad