Featuring Jefferson’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Very Small Batch
I have spring fever. After months of cold weather, give me a few 70 degree days to melt the snow and something internal kicks in. I can’t control it. I’m dreaming of green, sunshine, our garden, friends and family kicking back with drinks on the deck…and BBQ. I adore grilling & smoking and am always searching out another sauce. I have a few keepers and this new addition is an absolute favorite.
What inspired me was a gift of some very special honey - and I love cooking with spirits - so a natural pairing was an equally special bourbon. I wanted to build the base of a bbq sauce with these ingredients. After a consult at my favorite liquor store, Jefferson’s was the clear choice. The 3rd major ingredient is tomato, and most people use ketchup although I didn’t want to do that with this sauce. I used crushed tomato & chili sauce, soy sauce for salt component, and we know the honey for the sweet balance, caramelized onion and a few other odds and ends. As with any complex sauce, a few ingredients are needed to hit each flavor note. It’s worth it.
This recipe is part of the Honeybee Project to honor Deb’s bees and I’m excited to pair it with Jefferson’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
The recipe below is for the BBQ sauce and general directions with country style pork ribs. Please pair this sauce with any type of meat, or use it as a sauce for BBQ pizza, or a BBQ chopped salad. I would suggest to double the batch and have some available for later. If your family is like mine, we love BBQ sauce on everything!
Bourbon Honey BBQ Sauce
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 12 oz bottle chili sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup packed crushed pineapple - no juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 hefty shot bourbon to finish
- In a large sauce pan, cook the onions with the olive oil, butter, 2 tsp. honey and salt over medium-high heat until they turn translucent and and start to soften.
- Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring frequently until the onions begin to turn blond, then golden, then a deeper caramel color.
- This can take 1/2 hour, depending on the onion and your heat.
- The 2 cups of raw onions should reduce to about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of caramelized onion.
- Add the garlic and stir 2 - 3 minutes.
- Pull the pan off the heat for a moment, add 1 cup bourbon and stir to incorporate, then put back on the heat. You do not want to flame it.
- Add the 1/2 cup honey, crushed tomato, tomato paste, chili sauce, soy sauce, worcestershire, vinegar, pineapple, water, pepper and liquid smoke.
- Simmer 2 hours, partially covered, stir frequently, and regulate the heat to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Taste frequently and adjust to your family’s preference by adding more soy for a salty component, more honey for sweet, more liquid smoke for a deeper flavor.
- Finish by adding another generous shot of the bourbon. This will round out the sauce.
- If you are serving people who prefer a smooth sauce, then use an immersion blender to puree.
For the Oven-Baked Country Style Ribs
- Country Style pork ribs are sliced individually and are larger in size than a single rib - than say from a Kansas City Style or Baby Back Rib which are usually served as a rack. There are so many uses for a country style rib, whether is a beef rib or pork rib - and one of the easiest is an oven-baked method. It’s practically foolproof and fills your house with an incredible aroma that will only intensify once you add the sauce. It doesn’t matter what the weather outside, you can always bake this inside and still have a delicious rib.
- The bbq sauce is important. If you like honey and love bourbon, then you’ll want to check out the recipe included for a sauce that will elevate these ribs into the next galaxy. You can also use a bottled sauce. I’ve done that a lot…it just depends on your situation. No worries.
- Oven-baking, just as grilling & smoking must obey the golden rule..which is low & slow. Low heat and slow cooking time.
- Oven temp no higher than 325F.
- Plan on 2 to 3 large ribs per person. Rinse & dry thoroughly with paper towels.
- Prepare a large baking sheet and line with aluminum foil. I prefer to add another layer of parchment for the meat to rest on directly, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have it.
- Place the ribs on the baking sheet making sure each one has their own personal space, no touching, no stacking.
- Sprinkle with a dry rub or salt & pepper on each side.
- Cover with a layer of foil and crimp the edges.
- Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hrs and check for tenderness. When the meat is beginning to lifting off the bone, you can remove the aluminum covering and start basting with the sauce. Save the foil covering.
- Brush on the bbq sauce and cap with the foil, but don’t crimp it, just let it rest on top to prevent burning. Continue baking 10 to 15 minutes, then baste again, and bake with the loosely covered foil. This creates a bbq crust. The meat should be nearly fork tender at this point. With the last basting, coat with the sauce a bit heavier, then bake another 10 minutes. Pull from the oven and set aside, let cool a bit before serving.
If you have left-overs, pull the meat from the bone, shred and fix up BBQ pork sandwich sliders for lunch the next day.