Dad’s barbecue sauce

My dad had his first heart attack when I was 4 years old. It was not a momentous event for me, of course, because I didn’t know what a heart attack was. However, that was when Mazola Corn Oil entered our lives. Mazola Corn Oil, apparently, was the cure-all for heart conditions in 1956. My dad’s doctor instructed him to drink a shot glass of it every day. Can you imagine? Yuk. But Troy A. Chapin Jr. faithfully carried out the doctor’s instructions until the day he died, yes, of another heart attack but many years later.

Here I will digress because Mark found this fabulous photo of my dad and me at my debut. In the South, we are very keen on making our debuts. Generally speaking, debutantes are introduced to society at age 18. In the olden days, when a young lady made her debut it meant she was eligible for marital suitors. Of course, that whole thing has gone by the wayside and now it’s just an excuse to get dressed up in white gowns and allow your poor parents the privilege of shelling out massive amounts of money for parties and such. That is probably why my father looks rather shell-shocked here. He’s just adding up the dollar signs in his head. This photo was taken at Curtis Hixon Convention Center in Tampa, where I made my debut, where I danced an exquisite waltz with my dad and where my then-boyfriend, Tommy, was mortified that, by custom, he had to dance with my mother who absolutely hated him. Too much information. And that’s not fair. My mother was always careful to point out that we were not allowed to hate anyone. We could intensely dislike them.

I will now return to the subject at hand. Mazola Corn Oil. Since butter was no longer on the list of approved heart healthy foods (and, truth be told, we were a product of the 1950s and margarine was king at the moment anyway), my father was keen to incorporate this new wonder drug into his everyday diet.  I am most partial to oil and vinegar dressing for salads because that’s what I grew up eating.  There was rarely frying in our household, but when that happy occasion occurred  it was done with Mazola Corn Oil (even now, I say those three words as one).

But the best an highest use of Mazola Corn Oil was when my father grilled chicken. He came up with this wonderful tart combination of lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Mazola Corn Oil that was so clean and delicate and completely unlike chicken grilled with that other favorite of the 1950s, Kraft Barbecue Sauce.

The only detail in which my father cheated was leaving the skin on the chicken. It is a must. Don’t do this with skinless chicken breasts. My recipe returns butter to the dance because it’s better. The recipe that follows is for two well-proportioned chicken breasts, bone in. If you want to grill more chicken, just double or triple the recipe. The beauty of this sauce is that you can continually baste the chicken – and you should – because there’s no sugar in the sauce to burn.

Dad’s Barbecue Sauce

Juice of 2 large lemons

2 teaspoon’s Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ pound butter

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted, stirring all ingredients to incorporate completely.


Filed under chicken, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Dad’s barbecue sauce

  1. JoAnn

    Love the debut photo, Red!

  2. Bari Horton

    Love the picture AND the recipe…can’t wait to try it -it looks so much better than the bottled barbeque sauce. Catherine, I’m so enjoying your posts…keep them coming!

  3. Leslie Fraser

    I love this story!! And I’m amazed– the exact same sauce, with butter instead of oil, is what my father basted on the freshly-caught bass and bream that he grilled at our country house. And he had the exact same expression on his face the night of my debut as well. I’ve never used the sauce on chicken (which MUST have skin on it) but I’m going to try it this weekend. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this! Brings back memories of the joy and terror of being a debutant’s date (and surviving parental approval several times).

    • the south in my mouth

      Tommy was absolutely terrified. I had to teach him to waltz (the only approved father/daughter and mother/date dance). One, two, three…one, two, three. My exotic aunt and uncle came from Washington, D.C. (we later discovered he was possibly a spy after World War II) and he stood out among the men in tails in a powder blue dinner jacket. Quite elegant and so out-of-the-box for the straight-laced Chapins!

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