Some like it hot, some sweet, some vinegary. The southern United States uses a vinegar-based sauce, Kansas City the more traditional red sauce. In general, a lighter one is best for chicken and a heavier sauce compliments the meaty flavour of ribs.
After much experimentation, I've come up with one that gives you the best of both worlds: It has lots of flavour but isn't overly sweet. If you can find a chili powder called Mexican, use it - it's a little bit spicier than the usual. Brush on 10 minutes before you're finished the end of cooking, as the sugar will cause it to burn. Keeps refrigerated for one month.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, puréed
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 to 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or to taste
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and chili powder and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt to taste. Use an immersion blender or food processor to process until sauce is smooth. Makes about 2 cups.