BBQ sauce recipe with roots in Watertown brought to new heights by Air Force veteran

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WATERTOWN — The family barbecue sauce recipe was guarded by city native Edward F. Otis, who got it from his mom, lifelong Watertown resident Katherine O’Brien Otis.

A woman with Irish roots, Mrs. Otis, who would raise Edward and three other children at their home at 1360 Washington St., was a member of St. Patrick’s Church and enjoyed playing piano at square dances in the county. But she apparently also knew the keys to selecting the right ingredients that would make a barbecue sauce sparkle.

“The sauce” became legendary in the family, even after the death of Mrs. Otis at the age of 79 in 1965. By that time, son Edward, the youngest of the four children, had moved to Liverpool, where he was raising his family following his service in World War II with the 44th Infantry Division, where he saw combat in France and Germany.

Edward Otis often cooked up batches of the sauce. But he kept the lid on its recipe.

“I’d go on a Boy Scout camping trip or a camping trip with my friends, and I’d go, ‘Dad — I want to make the sauce,’” son Michael Otis said. “And he was like, ‘You’re not old enough to make the sauce. I make the sauce. When you hit 21, you can have the recipe.’ It was one of those things he said as a family joke.”

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