I’ve experimented with different recipes for a sweet, smoky and spicy BBQ sauce, and this one that I have adapted is good — really good. Bacon? Check! Bacon fat? Check, Check! Bourbon? Check! Agave? Check! Along with the rest of the ingredients, this recipe produces a sauce with a pronounced smoky aroma that belies the sweetness upon first taste, and then…bang…the spices kick in for a nice finish! There’s bacon in it, but it complements the other flavors and doesn’t overwhelm them — a nice balance.
Without further ado…
- ½ cup small-dice bacon (about 2 ounces)
- ½ cup finely diced red onion (about ½ small onion)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons dark or robust molasses (not blackstrap)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the bacon in a skillet over low heat and cook until crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and pat dry. Remove skillet from heat. Finely chop the cooked bacon and set aside. Again, over low heat, add the onion to the skillet and cook in the bacon fat, stirring occasionally, until softened — about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Now over medium heat, whisk in the remaining measured ingredients and season with a strong pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in the reserved bacon and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and holds a line on the back of a wooden spoon when you drag a finger through it, about 25 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend on high until smooth.
Drag your finger across the back of a wooden spoon to test that the mixture has thickened. If it holds the line, you’re done!
I poured the mixture to a bowl and allowed to cool before transferring to a blender…
The great thing about this and all BBQ sauces, really, is that you can experiment with different ingredients and amounts to tailor the flavor to your personal taste. Add more bacon or more bourbon, eliminate the Worcestershire sauce, substitute maple syrup or try different combinations of spices. As it stands, this recipe works for me.
This BBQ Sauce is a keeper! Put it on everything! I’m starting with pulled pork, and then some ribs, and then maybe a bacon double cheeseburger, and then some grilled chicken, and then I’ll use it as a pizza sauce, and then grill a few pork chops. If only it worked as a shampoo! Hey, wait a minute… that gives me an idea… I’ll be right back!