Smoky Bourbon BBQ


Sauces are one of my favorite things to cook because they're so versatile, and they make everything better.  You keep a jar in the fridge, and pull it out whenever you have a meal in need of spicing up.

And a good smoky barbecue sauce is one of those things that I can't really live without.  Most store-bought BBQs, however err on one side or the other: too sweet, too tangy, too heavy on the tomato, or simply favoring fire over flavor.  So I set out to create my own, combining the best parts of different recipes, and throwing in some of my favorite seasonings.  I'm always a little skeptical of liquid smoke and other suspicious flavorings, so I used crushed Chinese tea and a combination of spices to give the sauce its richness, and a bit of Bourbon to give it additional body and character.

You will need:

1 medium yellow onion, minced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6 oz. Tomato Paste

2/3 cup water

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp honey

1/2 cup molasses

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2.5 tsp loose lapsang souchang tea, dried and crushed (practically to dust).

2 tbsp brewer's yeast

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp white pepper

2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp chili powder (chipotle is best, for extra smokiness)

3 rounded tbsp brown sugar

3-6 dashes smoky hot sauce, to taste (the chipotle tabasco is fine)

1 cup bourbon (we suggest Jefferson's)

Put the onion in a small saucepan with the olive oil, sautee on low heat (stirring regularly) for ten minutes or until the pieces are just beginning to brown.

Add the garlic, the tomato paste, the garlic, and the water.  Cover, and let cook on low heat for 15 minutes (stirring occasionally).  Remove lid, stir in the honey and molasses.  Next, add apple cider vinegar, brewer's yeast, tea, and spices, stirring all the while.  Then add brown sugar and bourbon, and finish off with the hot sauce, tasting to make sure you're not over-spicing.  Turn off heat, stir well, and let cool.

If you like your BBQ sauce with chunks, you're set to go.  If you prefer a pureed texture, you can pour this into the blender and run it 'til it's the desired smoothness.

Then, use on all your burgers, meats, kebabs, or whatever you like!  (The extra will keep in the fridge for up to a month, and can also be frozen with no ill effects.)

Photo @2013 — Marnie Ann Joyce.