Optional ingredients such as additional Sriracha Sauce, or various peppers, could be added to the basic sauce to spice this up. Add in very small amounts and cook at least 30 minutes then taste test before adding more. Hot spices tend to intensify as cooked. It is easy to overdo hot spices and ruin a batch for the majority of your guests. A double batch (about 7 lbs of meat can be done in a 14 inch Dutch Oven.
The basic sauce has always been the most popular in large groups. Spicy is not. You can multiply this recipe based on the group you are serving. The BBQ can be made ahead and put in the freezer for later use. This is served on hamburger buns. A stack of coleslaw on the BBQ before adding the top bun makes for a killer BBQ sandwich. This recipe makes approximately 24 standard hamburger sized bun servings.
Place the chunked up Meat, Bay Leaves, Onion, Celery, and Garlic, in a greased heavy pot with lid for baking. Preferably a Cast Iron Dutch oven is used. Meat is slow cooked with lid on. If using a Dutch Oven, and coals, use coals for 325°F heat. If using your kitchen oven use 325°F also. Use a pot sized to be at least half filled to avoid burning.
Bake for 2 hours then stir the meat chunks to rotate the bottom pieces to avoid burning. There should be plenty of liquid remaining at this point and the meat just starting to shred apart. If liquid is completely gone add 1 cup of very hot water, cover, and bake for 1 more hour. Stir again and check for liquid. If the meat is falling apart it should be ready to shred. If not, bake an additional hour but make sure there is some liquid. I have never had to go more than 4 hours baking. Remove lid and keep on heat or in kitchen oven just until all liquid is absorbed or evaporated. Check and stir often during this process…don’t burn it.
Once the meat is falling apart easily, remove the bay leaves and discard the leaves. Use 2 forks to shred the meat. I like to use a potato masher to speed up the shredding. Break apart the meat until it is all completely shredded.
In a large mixing bowl place the remaining ingredients. Add the Soup, Water, Worcestershire Sauce, Liquid Smoke, Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Mustard, and Ketchup. Whisk until combined. Then pour liquid mixture into the baked & shredded meat mixture. Then stir and fold to combine.
Cover and bake for 1 more hour. Ideally the finished mixture is a Sloppy Joe consistency that doesn’t run. If you’re finished BBQ is too thin/watery, cook/bake with lid off, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Cook/Bake uncovered until it reaches your desired consistency.
Optional: Additional smoking process. Leave the mixture slightly wet. Using a Smoker set on 250°F lay on smoke for an additional 2 hours with the meat mixture uncovered. Stirring once about mid way through the smoking process. Watch that the mixture does not dry out. The smoke enhanced flavoring is incredible.