Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce

There’s barbecue sauce and then there’s barbecue sauce, which is to say you need more than one! Here’s one that I use as a mop (meaning it gets slathered on the meat as it cooks) and for pork, like my Pulled Pork, as a marinade, and to perk up an item, much like a hot sauce. It’s strong, its vinegary, its potent. It’s Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce.

Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce
Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce

My daughter was wild about this thin, vinegary, hot, peppery sauce – even as a child, so much so that I sent her a bottle of it once when she was away from home for a while. I knew she couldn’t live without it. Which says a lot about her sense of adventure and willingness to try almost anything. I’m wild about it, too; the more you try this, the more you’ll like it.

This is a serious sauce – one that if you’re not careful and douse something a little too heavily and just happen to inhale as you take a bite, you’ll give a little involuntary gasp, you’ll get that little catch in the back of the throat, and perhaps finish with a bit of a cough. As a matter of fact, as it simmers on the stove, walk away between stirs.

Now, I know when I say this I’ll  get one of two reactions! Those who know about these sauces will nod, smile, read the recipe and maybe try it (and probably love it!) and those who don’t? Well, you’ve been warned! 🙂

jeffsmithPride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce has a long history; popularized by Jeff Smith, the barbecue sauce is an Arkansas sauce (see comments, below) given to him by Sarah Lea, general manager of the Lenox House Hotel in Chicago. The original recipe makes 8 quarts, with a story about keeping it in a gallon jug under the kitchen sink. Easily canned, with that much vinegar, it should be safe to pour into sterilized jars and let self seal or process in a water bath.

I’ve made a few minor changes in cutting back the recipe, rounding off, but put the original amounts down, too. It makes little difference in the finished sauce; it’s not quite as watery and has just a touch of body. The link, above, gives original recipe and history of the sauce.

Now, I mentioned my Pulled Pork; in the recipe you’ll see that I suggest pouring about a cup or so of the juices over the shredded pork – what I didn’t mention was that instead, I often douse the pulled pork with some of this sauce. It lends an incredible flavor. Then, when I serve, I finish it with a nice, thick, sweet and “normal” sauce. The contrast of flavor is amazing – hot, spicy vinegar vs. sweet & cool.

I also find a few other uses for Pride of Deer Camp Sauce: from time to time I’ll toss a little in a Bloody Mary. I’m just thinking how long it’s been since I’ve had one – but now that my sauce is made, well, I might just remedy that! 🙂 I’ll also put a little in marinades, use it as a mop, sprinkle a little on my scrambled eggs. Really, nothing’s safe once there’s a jar in my fridge.

Pulled Pork from the Slow Cooker
Pulled Pork from the Slow Cooker

Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce

  • Servings: abt 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (originally 3/8 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (originally 3/8 cup)
  • 1/2 cup prepared mustard (Yellow ballpark style) (originally 3/8 cup)
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper (less if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • 3 cups red wine vinegar (other vinegar works well, too)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • salt if desired (recipe calls for 3/8 cup)

Mix together in a non-reactive pan (stainless steel or an enameled pan) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer thirty minutes, stirring now and then.

Best stored in glass containers. Mixture will separate upon standing; just shake back together.

From the kitchen of, adapted from
Jeff Smith

  • Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

12 thoughts on “Pride of Deer Camp Barbecue Sauce”

  1. Forgot to mention: The chef was from Arkansas, but learned it when he worked at Deer Camp in Georgia. The sauce is in no way typical of Arkansas BBQ. Further, this recipe seems to have a heritage based in North Carolina. It’s ironic that Smith found it in Chicago!

    1. Thanks for the update on the heritage of this recipe – I’m not very familiar with Arkansas bbq, although I do know a bit about NC – and it DOES seem as if it could very well be. Of course, it’s been “uppified” as I like to say, I think with the wine and a few ingredients…

      It’s fun to talk with someone who knows a bit about this recipe – I could probably go on for hours! 🙂 I did not mention when I was pregnant, I would sometimes sneak little sips out of the jar in my fridge!! It is really crave-worthy!

  2. This sauce is unbelievably versatile. I have a pot going right now with shoulder in it. My approach is to rub the shoulder with Cavenders Original, while I set up the smoker. The shoulder goes into the smoker in a V-cradle, fat side up, over apple wood, at 250 dF for about 4 hours. You may wish to turn at 3 hrs and go fat side down for 2 more. Make sure the final temp is a safe 155-160 using a meat thermometer. You need to actually smoke only for an hour or so; the remainder is slow roasting time.

    Bring the shoulder inside, place in a large stew pot (I use S/S lined, over a Nu-Wave Pro induction hob, set to 195 dF, covered), cover with the sauce and braise overnight. Works even with 7-8 Lb shoulders.

    Double check the meat internal temperature and remove for shredding.

    Defat the sauce and save for use at the table.

    Goes very well with no-mayo North Carolina vinegar/sugar based cole slaw. (Mamie Kirk’s comes to mind). Serve on cheap hamburger buns, maybe w/a little more mustard. OUTSTANDING.

    1. Oh my gosh, I want to live at your house!! That sounds divine!! I didn’t know about he Nu-wave, but I can see how this 2 part method would produce a gorgeous pork shoulder!!

      I notice, too, you mentioned “cheap” buns! It’s really the only way to go with Pork shoulder, isn’t it! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. Funny – at our age there is room for a few mix ups! I’m always telling my son to do things like put the chicken in the dishwasher and forks in the laundry! I know the words, and the wrong one just pops out!

        I already told me that they can’t put me in the “home” because of that because I’ve been doing it for years!


  3. I’m not very familiar with these vinegary bbq sauces but I’d try a half or quarter batch if I had any spare white wine in the house. Maybe one day. 🙂

    By the way, I’m a fan of the Frugal Gourmet and bought 2 of his cookbooks years ago. I’m curious how he ‘fell from grace’.

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