Tell me you didn’t do it. Tell me you didn’t let the entire month of May pass without noting that it is National Barbecue Month. Wait, you did? Well, don’t worry. While you were trolling the internet at work looking for a flattering swimsuit, stressing out about affording your summer share in the Hampton’s or trying to fit in the truly unbelievable amount of school activities that take place in May, I, along with the super cool folks at Four Roses Bourbon, was conspiring to deliver to you some crack BBQ recipes to take you through the entire summer. No national month designation needed.
Here’s the skinny: Four Roses Bourbon reached out to me in May and asked if I would develop either a BBQ sauce or marinade using their bourbon. It goes against all that I am to waste a perfectly good bourbon cooking — and the samples arrived the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby — which was ballsy on their part — but I agreed and so, in early May, I began the recipe testing. It was an interesting assignment, developing a recipe for someone else. I am used to doing whatever strikes my fancy, whatever shows up in my Good Eggs NOLA box or whatever looks good at the farmer’s market or the grocery store. The only other factor I generally have to take into account is whether Nick will be in the mood for it or whether the kids will eat it. So it was a different way of going about coming up with a recipe. The other challenge was that my family and I all leave New Orleans at the end of May and go to London for the whole summer. So, in addition to being National BBQ Month, I also really needed to get this done before our trek began. (If you have ever travelled a great distance with kids you’ll know it isn’t exactly like you can just pull out your laptop and knock out some work while they snooze on the flight. Oh, no….)
So, let’s get down to the recipes. The first thing I took a shot at was making a Bourbon Teriyaki Glaze that I would use as a marinade and topping for Salmon. I need to stop here and warn you about something: If you make your own teriyaki, you will never pick up a bottle of Soy Vey again. It turned out to be so easy and so good that I actually kept dipping my tasting spoon back in for another go because I couldn’t believe what I came up with on my first attempt. Then I marinated the salmon for an hour and grilled it in two different ways – one in aluminum foil pouch with extra slices of fresh ginger and green onions and one straight on the grill. They were both tasty, but I’ll admit, I gave the first one to a friend and when I called the next day to see whether she liked it she confessed that she actually had eaten it in the car on her way home and that it was so good that, well I can’t quote her exactly, but trust me. It was good.
So there I was, pretty proud of myself for the marinade, and wanting to also come up with a good, old-fashioned, but better than good and newer than old-fashioned barbecue sauce. I don’t like my BBQ sauce to be too sweet and I sometimes find store-bought versions very chemical-y, but I never really could figure out the magic behind making one. I researched them for weeks noting the differences between the four main American barbecue styles: Texas, Kansas City, Memphis and The Carolinas. I also bought several options from the store to see what flavor combos I liked and didn’t like. As far as regions of BBQ go, here is a super quick tutorial:
Texas: Mainly republican with an abundance of democrats and breakfast tacos in Austin. Their BBQ sauce is paired up usually with Beef. That shouldn’t surprise you.
Kansas City: All American. I think of this as classic BBQ. A mix of pork and beef. Thick and sweet spices and meat that is smoked for ages.
Memphis: Singin’ the blues. And marinating their pork ribs. Here you want to make sure to ask for your ribs as you like them, “wet” or “dry.”
Carolinas: Full of genteel southern charm. And banking. And Pigs. Their BBQ sauce is generally a mixture of spices and vinegar although even within the Carolinas there are like 5 or 6 different types of BBQ. What?
In the end I decided I wanted it a little smokey, a little spicy and a little sweet. I wanted it pretty thick and full of chunks of onions and belpepper and goodies like that. It took me a few tries to get something that wasn’t too tomato-y or too spicy or too vinegary but in the end I wound up with a complex sauce that was a little smokey from the chipotle and smoked paprika, a little sweet from the molasses and brown sugar and it was full of spices and kick. It also has chunky homemade thing so it really was my kind of barbecue.
So that is a wrap: I got a bunch of whisky and you got a bunch of BBQ recipes for the summer. Use them well. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. I will be making them all on our roof deck on Portobello Road in London this summer, drinking a Pimm’s, staring out at The Electric Cinema and thinking about New Orleans, missing my friends and family but not missing the heat or humidity.
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Four Roses Bourbon
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce
- 1/4 cup (50 g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) Mirin
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
- 1 green onion, green and white parts, finely chopped
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for 2-5 minutes depending on how thick you want your sauce.
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sunflower oil
- 1 medium white onion, diced (about 6 oz/170 g)
- 1 whole charred green onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, miced
- 1 (8oz/225 g) can of tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Four Roses Bourbon Whisky
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Cider Vinegar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Worcestershire
- 2 teaspoons Pick-a-Pepper sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Molasses
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of chipotle sauce or chopped chipotles (from a can)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 to 1 cup (120 to 240 ml) water
- Heat the sunflower oil over medium-high heat and add the diced onions, green bellpepper and minced garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (It is okay for them to caramelize a bit).
- Stir in the tomato sauce and a tablespoon or so of water. Mix and cook for about 5 minutes. (Note that the mixture is going to be pasty and a bit of a fiddle at this point. That will get better when you add the next group of ingredients).
- Stir in the whisky, vinegar, Worcestershire, Pick-a-Pepper sauce, molasses, chipotle, brown sugar, dry mustard and paprika. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water. Whisk mixture and bring it up to a boil.
- After it boils take it off of the heat completely. You now have three options. 1. Love it as it is. 2. Add more water if you want it thinner. 3. Blend it in a blender if you want a smoother sauce.
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 slabs St. Louis–style pork spareribs (about 7 pounds) or 2 slabs pork spareribs (about 8 pounds)
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) Four Roses Bourbon BBQ Sauce
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Combine salt, sugar, dry mustard, smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground ginger, and all peppers in a small bowl. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of aluminum foil; rub mixture over every side of the ribs. Wrap racks individually and divide between 2 baking sheets.
- Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to about 600°F/315°C. Add broth to the BBQ sauce and whisk well.
- Grill the ribs, basting with barbecue sauce mixture and turning frequently, until sticky and hot. This will only take about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Cut and serve with more of the BBQ sauce that you used to baste them.