Bourbon-Bacon Barbecue Sauce

Why buy barbecue sauce when you can make it? Here ketchup, bacon, vinegar, brown sugar, and bourbon are mixed with lots of spices for a sweet, tart, smoky barbecue sauce. Play around with the ingredients: Add more bourbon, less vinegar, different spices, or swap out the sugar for agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup. This sauce is great on ribs but as you know, barbecue sauce has endless uses.

½ cup small-dice bacon (about 2 ounces)
½ cup finely diced red onion (about 1/2 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
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons dark or robust molasses (not blackstrap)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground mustard
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a small bowl; set aside. Reduce heat to medium low, add onion to the pan, and cook in the bacon fat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds more.
2. Whisk in remaining measured ingredients and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in reserved bacon and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened 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. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 cups. –Jill Santopietro for