Suzi's Blog

Very Sticky and Very Smokey Pork Ribs with Bourbon Glaze


I’ve mentioned the new book Smoke & Spice by Valerie Aikman-Smith in a previous post. I enjoy the book’s presentation with its focus on sauces and seasonings rather than the meat. Everyone secretly eats BBQ for the sauce. Yes, yes you do. Don’t deny the truth here. I’m not asking for a confession or entrance into a 12-step program. I’m just acting you to make these ribs.

As a matter of face, th subtitle of this BBQ gem reveals its secret intent: Recipes for Seasonings, Rubs, Marinades, Brines, Glazes, & Butters. So, there is no guilt in indulging on the sauce.

Essentially, this tight little volume holds a wealthy of valuable information: new, distinctive recipes and cooking techniques that will give better BBQ and grilling results.

We made these pork ribs last weekend, expecting to have leftovers for the next day. Alas, no leftovers. With two racks of ribs, we fed four people. We made 4 times the sauce or glaze recipe below. Four times.

The sauce is bourbon-based and, frankly, when we taste-tested it before using on the meat, we panicked just a tad. The taste was, in a word, alcoholic. So we did make an adjustment and added ¾ cup of regular old ketchup. That did take down the alcohol tone just enough to make us comfortable.

Then Suzen had an idea. With the sauce reserved for basting, she took it all, put it in a saucepan, and reduced it down about ⅓. What had then was a very sticky sauce, full of smokey flavor and with no hint of alcohol. We realized that our ribs, when cooking, were going to automatically take care of the alcohol, so adding that ketchup was really not necessary. But, it all came out fine, as the lack of leftovers will attest.

You can find good ribs in many places. The Big Box stores actually sell packages of meat now that are excellent. You may still have the luxury of having a neighborhood butcher. Upstate, we drive 20 miles to the Smokehouse of the Catskills, a German-themed business with ribs that delight.

Sticky Smokey BBQ Ribs

Yield: serves 4


  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs
  • 4 quantities of Hogwild Bourbon Glaze [See the recipe below]


Wash the ribs under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Put the ribs in a ceramic baking dish and pour enough of the Hogwild Bourbon glaze to thoroughly cover — not just lightly coat — the ribs. Turn the ribs over once or twice to make sure the glaze is everywhere. [Yes, everywhere will include your hands and possibly your white shirt; this is a messy dish.] You will have some glaze left over, which you can reheat and serve when the ribs come to the table. The glaze is also excellent on a baked potato or sweet potato.

Cover and refrigerate, ideally overnight. To be honest, Suzen and I made these ribs on a short time budget: we made the glaze, covered the ribs, and popped them into a preheated oven. It was just fine.

If you do refrigerate, then prior to cooking, remove the ribs from refrigerator. Take off the foil or plastic wrap, and let the ribs come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Yes, this will low heat for a long time.

Stir the glaze and respoon over the ribs. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the preheated oven for 2 ½ hours.

Remove the ribs from the oven and take off the foil. Baste the rips with the glaze, then return to the over for a final hour. Is that last hour mandatory? Some of the time is. You can check for temperature, but your nose is the best indicator. If you are edging in on the sauce beginning to burn, then pull the ribs. You will have reached a stage of early caramelization and the ribs are going to perfectly sticky.

When they are done to your satisfaction, remove from the oven. Let rest for 15 minutes. Serve with the reserved, reheated glaze.


Hogwild Bourbon Glaze

Yield: 1 cup [at least 3 cups are needed for the recipe above]


  • ½ cup bourbon [such as Wild Turkey]
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chunky orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Sea salt and black pepper


Put all the ingredients and a blender or food processor and process until pureed and smooth.

Store the glaze in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Use with the recipe above, or marinate bacon, chops, ribs, and pork roasts in the glaze overnight. Simmer any glaze not used for marinating to reduce and then serve on the side. That picture below is the sauce reducing away. You’ll want to taste test it about every 30 seconds. Use a spoon, not a straw.

Source: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/50th second at ISO 3200 for both photos


Cookbook Review: Pure Vanilla Offering Vanilla Bourbon Maple Syrup


Mankind can probably never repay the Totonac Indians.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any Totonacs left. In 1519, they were conquered by the Aztecs. Now, the Aztecs did take prisoners, but only so they could take their hearts. So, I’m afraid there are no descendants left.

They were clever people. Orchid lovers. Foodies. Somehow, we don’t know how, they learned how to make vanilla from orchids. Thankfully, that discovery was not lost and today we have the wonders of vanilla to sample in so many ways.

About a 100 ways are the topic of Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever. I posted a recipe yesterday for Vanilla Bean Meringue Kisses [cookies] from the book. It’s the perfect recipe with the right crunch, color and flavor. Below you’ll find an equally compelling recipe for Vanilla Bourbon Maple Syrup.

There’s more than kisses and syrup here. Here are the book chapters and representative recipes:

  • Breakfast treats: for example, Slow-Cooked Vanilla Spice Oatmeal
  • Cakes and pies: Vanilla Cream Pie
  • Cookies and bars: Vanilla Crème Cookie Sandwiches
  • Candies and confections: Opera Fudge
  • Custards and creams: Floating Islands
  • Drinks: Vanilla Mojito

I’m not sure which is coming first in my weekend kitchen, that Vanilla Mojito or the Vanilla Cream Pie. When you think about it, they are not mutually exclusive. Not at all.

You will find Pure Vanilla prominently in the new books section of most bookstores. The book is beautifully laid out with very inviting photographs by Leigh Beisch. The instructions for each recipe are presented with a very different style. Each step is a separate paragraph, bulleted with a highlighted title. I just find it very easy to follow and to skim over the steps right at the start so I have quick overview of what I have to do. Have you ever put something in oven, turned around, and seen that “thing” what was supposed to part of the other “thing” that is now baking away to become “something” that is apparently now a “science experiment?” Won’t happen with Pure Vanilla.

Vanilla Bourbon Maple Syrup

Yield: 1 ¾ cups


  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 1 ½ cups maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt


Pour the bourbon into a small saucepan. Add the 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling the bourbon is reduced by half.

Sir in the maple syrup and the pinch of salt. Removed the vanilla pods and scape the caviar into the syrup. Or, if you like, leave the pods in the syrup so the vanilla flavor intensified over time.

Let cool. Place in a tight jar. Use often. [Drink recipes to be devised and blogged by Brian]

Source: Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever