South Carolina is blessed when it comes to BBQ.
In SC, barbecue is often defined by the sauce it is served with. South Carolina can brag about having four distinct sauce regions. In the map below, you will see how the state divides according to the sauce type you would historically find in those areas.
In the heart of mustard country, you will find Orangeburg County. It could easily be argued that this is the birthplace of the sauce unique to South Carolina, the mustard sauce.
Without getting too deep into the history behind it, know that Joe Bessinger may have been the first to create a mustard sauce near Holly Hill, in rural Orangeburg County. Joe’s sons later spread the family’s BBQ greatness across the state in several different BBQ restaurants, including Maurice’s, Melvin’s, Bessingers, Joe Bessingers, and Robert’s.
But that’s not the whole story of Orangeburg County’s importance in SC’s barbecue heritage. In and around the city of Orangeburg, the Dukes BBQ family empire evolved.
Dukes serves what many South Carolinians would instinctively call a mustard sauce, but really there is more to it than that, as you will see in this recipe.
Earl Dukes, the progenitor of the Dukes brand, opened the original Dukes restaurant. His sauce, and the sauce that you will find in all Dukes restaurants, is what some refer to as the “Orangeburg Sweet” sauce. Tony Kittrell, who runs the Dukes Barbecue on Whitman Street in Orangeburg, calls it: “Rust Gravy.”
Whatever you call it, it is a clear SC favorite.
Michael Ott, who originally grew up in Orangeburg County, the heart of Dukes BBQ country, provided us with this recipe.
“You can post the mustard recipe, because it really is my version. None of my recipes are from Dukes. They are not going to tell anyone — including family members — their recipes,” Michael said.
Here is his version:
Dukes Style BBQ Sauce
- 1 part yellow mustard
- 1/2 part Dukes mayonnaise
- 1/2 part ketchup
- 1/3 part apple cider vinegar or 1/2 part if you like it with a little kick
- 1/2 part brown sugar or more if you like it sweeter
- 1/4 part soy sauce
- Hot sauce to taste preferably Texas Pete
- Mix mustard and mayo in a bowl until it turns a light creamy color. Add ketchup, vinegar and sugar. Mix well. Slowly add soy sauce while mixing until the sauce turns a little darker. Discard remaining soy. Add Texas Pete until you can slightly raste a little heat. Refrigerate and serve.
This mustard sauce is a serving sauce, not a basting sauce. It's easier to follow if you start with one cup of mustard and adjust the rest accordingly. In that case you would just use one tablespoon of soy.