While mop sauce is sometimes confused with barbecue sauce, there is an important difference. Mop sauces are thin sauces that are applied to meat as it is being grilled on a barbecue or broiled in an oven. While containing a lot of flavor, it is thin enough to leave a thin layer on the surface of the meat that is able to soak in as the meat continues to cook. It is usually applied with the use of a hand held mop brush. It is not unusual for the sauce to be utilized to keep the meat tender and flavorful during the cooking process, and a thicker sauce added to the meat just before serving.
Sometimes referred to as a basting sauce, a mop sauce often begins with the use of some type of stock, such as beef or chicken stock. Small amounts of soy or Worcestershire sauce are added to the stock, along with white vinegar and various spices. Most recipes call for the use of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a small amount of dry mustard.
Often, the choice of stock and other ingredients is based on the type of meat being prepared. Barbeque mop sauce is often used for ribs and pork, while brisket sauce will be formulated to compliment the preparation of a beef brisket. Chicken mop sauce may be the right option for use when grilling or broiling boneless breasts. However, it is not unusual for people to prepare a basic BBQ sauce that can be used for anything from ribs to pork and chicken.
Mop sauce may also serve as the basis for a thicker sauce served at the table called sopping sauce. Essentially, enough sauce is prepared to baste the meat and serve as the base for the thicker sopping sauce. After setting aside enough to prepare the meat, the remaining is infused with granulated sugar and a thickener, such as ketchup. This allows the sopping sauce to retain the basic flavor of the mop sauce, but is ideal for cutting and dipping a small portion of the prepared meat during the meal.
While it is possible to buy commercial brands of mop sauce, the process of making the sauce from scratch takes very little time. An added benefit is that the flavor of homemade sauce can be enhanced using any combination of spices that are desired. It is also easier to control the thickness when it is prepared using ingredients found in most kitchens.