What’s Cooking: Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Although the weather this summer has been less than favourable for barbecuing, Albertans will turn on their grills year-round.

Whether you like beef, chicken or pork, this barbecue sauce has become an absolute staple ingredient in everything from ribs to wings in our home.

It is quick to make, and you will make it again and again.

The Ingredients
(Available at Sobeys Morinville)

6 ounces bourbon
2 cups of ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
2 tsp liquid smoke (this could be increased to 2 tbsp if you like it really smokey)

Bourbon is the key

The recipe I use requires 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of bourbon. I’ve used Makers Mark and currently use John B. Stetson or even Jim Beam, all available at Legendary Liquor in Morinville.

Bourbon is an excellent choice because it has a caramel smokiness to it that is perfect for barbecue sauce.

Be careful to use a good bourbon. The cheap stuff can give your sauce more of an alcohol taste. A rule about cooking with alcohol is that if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it.

Why bourbon works well

Bourbon is an American whiskey that has to be 51% corn and aged in new, charred oak containers.

If the bottle says Kentucky Straight, it will work just fine as it is aged for at least two years in the barrel. Anything aged less than four years has to say on the bottle how long it was aged.

Kentucky Straight also tells you the bottle is not mixed with other bourbons or alcohols.

Getting the onions and garlic right

Another critical step is getting the bourbon in a deep pan over medium heat and the onions and garlic simmering in the bourbon for about 10 minutes.

When they start to shimmer and carmelize a bit, it is time to throw everything else in.

Adding Everything else

A/ add all the ingredients to the pan and stir.
B/ Bring to a boil
C/ Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
D/ You can run the sauce through a strainer to trap out the onion chunks or puree it to give you a smooth barbecue sauce.

Fair Warning

If you try this recipe and decide to double it, you can increase all the quantities except the bourbon. I’d recommend an extra two to three ounces at the most. If your sauce is too liquidy, you can add a little more ketchup and tomato paste to thicken on more significant quantity cooks.

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