Bour­bon-spiked bar­be­cue sauce el­e­vates grilled ribs

Which­ever ribs you cook, be sure to set the grill up for in­di­rect cook­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - JEANMARIE BROWNSON

Through­out the year I turn to other cuisines to spice up my ev­ery­day cook­ing.

Korean go­juchang chili paste en­livens fish fil­lets, Proven­cal olive tape­nade aug­ments Ital­ian pasta, Span­ish smoked paprika and Mid­dle Eastern za’atar spice spark bor­ing chicken.

But some­times, I pay homage to my favourite do­mes­tic in­gre­di­ents em­ploy­ing Ken­tucky bour­bon and tomato ketchup in a sweet and smoky sauce des­tined for ribs on a grill pow­ered with hick­ory wood. Sorghum mo­lasses adds sweet­ness while im­ported chipo­tle chilies and Di­jon mus­tard im­bue the smoky, tangy lay­ers of flavour we crave.

Ken­tucky bour­bon like­wise adds power to black tea for a cock­tail we hap­pily sip all day long. Fresh lemon and slices of lo­cal cu­cum­ber add cool­ing el­e­ments.

As for the pork ribs, the young peo­ple in our crowd pre­fer baby back ribs mostly for the plea­sure of gnaw­ing on the bones. Back ribs orig­i­nate from the blade and cen­tre sec­tion of the pork loin, and are smaller and less fatty than spareribs. A rack weighs about 1½ pounds and serves two to three peo­ple. I’m par­tial to coun­try-style pork ribs, cut from the sir­loin or rib end of the pork loin, with gen­er­ous meati­ness and rich flavour. You’ll need a knife and fork to en­joy them.

Baby back ribs cost con­sid­er­ably more than coun­try ribs and take twice the time to cook, so plan ac­cord­ingly.

Which­ever ribs you choose to cook, be sure to set the grill up for in­di­rect cook­ing — that is, no heat source di­rectly un­der the meat. This al­lows you to use the grill some­what like an oven with heat swirling all around, but with lit­tle chance of char­ring.

Bour­bon Bar­be­cue Sauce

No need to cook this sauce: the heat of the grill fin­ishes the flavour of the sauce as it’s slathered onto the ribs or other meats or poul­try. Dou­ble the recipe so you can have a jar­ful in the fridge. It lasts sev­eral weeks.


1 cup tomato ketchup, prefer­ably or­ganic ¼ cup bour­bon ¼ cup sorghum or light mo­lasses 2 ta­ble­spoons Worces­ter­shire sauce 1 tbsp Di­jon mus­tard or your favourite mus­tard 1 to 2 tbsp puréed chipo­tle in adobo

Prepa­ra­tion: 5 min­utes Mix all in­gre­di­ents in a jar with a tight-fit­ting lid. Shake well. Re­frig­er­ate up to sev­eral weeks.

Per serv­ing: 18 calo­ries, 0 grams fat, 0 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mil­ligrams choles­terol, 5 g car­bo­hy­drates, 0 g pro­tein, 104 mg sodium, 0 g fi­bre

Bour­bon Grilled Ribs MAKES 6 SERV­INGS

2 large slabs baby back pork ribs (3 pounds to­tal) or 3 pounds bone-in coun­try style pork ribs Salt, freshly ground pep­per Hick­ory or mesquite wood chunks 2 cups bour­bon bar­be­cue sauce, or as needed, see recipe

Prep: 20 min­utes; cook: 40 min­utes to 1 hour, 15 min­utes

1. Pat ribs dry. Sea­son gen­er­ously on all sides with salt and pep­per. Re­frig­er­ate un­cov­ered for up to two days. Re­move from re­frig­er­a­tor while you pre­pare the grill so the ribs start to come to room tem­per­a­ture. Soak wood chips in wa­ter to cover for at least 30 min­utes.

2. Pre­pare a char­coal grill or heat a gas grill to high. When the coals are cov­ered with a grey ash, ar­range them on two sides of the grill leav­ing the cen­tre empty. Place a drip pan on the bot­tom of the grill and place the cook­ing grate on top. If us­ing a gas grill, turn off the burn­ers in the cen­tre of the grill and turn the other burn­ers to medium.

3. Just be­fore you put the meat on the grill, nes­tle a few wood chunks among the hot coals. Put ribs on grill over the drip pan (not di­rectly over the heat). Cover grill and cook, turn­ing once, un­til fork­ten­der and juices run clear, about 40 min­utes for the coun­try-style ribs or 1¼ hours for the baby back ribs.

4. Gen­er­ously baste all sides of the ribs with the bar­be­cue sauce. Grill cov­ered un­til meat is nicely glazed, 10 to 15 min­utes more. Re­move from grill; let rest five min­utes be­fore serv­ing.

Per serv­ing: 438 calo­ries, 33 grams fat, 10 g sat­u­rated fat, 113 mil­ligrams choles­terol, 12 g car­bo­hy­drates, 23 g pro­tein, 375 mg sodium, 0 g fi­bre

Co­conut Panna Cotta with Hon­eyed Ber­ries MAKES 6 SERV­INGS

2 tea­spoons (1 small en­ve­lope) plain pow­dered gelatin 2 cups skim milk ½ cup su­gar (co­conut su­gar is de­li­cious here) 1 can (5.4 ounces) co­conut cream or 2/3 cup unsweet­ened co­conut milk Pinch salt 1 cup plain non­fat Greek yo­gurt Hon­eyed ber­ries, see recipe Sprigs of fresh mint

Prep: 20 min­utes; cook: 2 min­utes; chill: sev­eral hours

1. Sprin­kle gelatin over 2 ta­ble­spoons cold wa­ter in a small bowl. Let stand un­til soft­ened, about three min­utes.

2. Heat skim milk and su­gar in large mi­crowave-safe bowl on high, stir­ring once or twice, un­til su­gar dis­solves (rub a lit­tle be­tween your fin­gers), about two min­utes. Stir in soft­ened gelatin un­til dis­solved. Stir in co­conut milk and salt un­til smooth. Cool to room tem­per­a­ture.

3. Use a whisk to blend yo­gurt into cooled milk mix­ture. Di­vide the mix­ture among six squat jelly jars or glasses. Cover and re­frig­er­ate un­til set, two to three hours. (Or up to three days.)

4. Serve topped with a gen­er­ous spoon­ful of the hon­eyed ber­ries. Gar­nish with mint.

Per serv­ing: 238 calo­ries, 4 grams fat, 4 g sat­u­rated fat, 4 mil­ligrams choles­terol, 42 g car­bo­hy­drates, 8 g pro­tein, 91 mg sodium, 2 g fi­bre

Hon­eyed Ber­ries MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

1 pint fresh blue­ber­ries, stemmed, rinsed 1 quart small ripe straw­ber­ries, hulled, quar­tered 1 tea­spoon fresh lime juice Light honey to taste

Prep: 10 min­utes; chill: 20 min­utes Put blue­ber­ries into a bowl and use a potato masher or large fork to roughly crush them. Add straw­ber­ries and crush them a lit­tle. Stir in lime juice and honey to taste. Re­frig­er­ate 20 min­utes or so.

Per ta­ble­spoon: 14 calo­ries, 0 grams fat, 0 g sat­u­rated fat, 0 mil­ligrams choles­terol, 3 g car­bo­hy­drates, 0 g pro­tein, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fi­bre


Slow-grilled ribs are coated at the end with a sweet and smoky sauce spiked with bour­bon.


Bour­bon panna cotta is a cool, creamy end­ing to a rich meal.


The bour­bon bar­be­cue sauce mixes up in about five min­utes. You’ll want to make ex­tra to keep on hand in the fridge all sum­mer long.

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