For many of my friends, Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer, and with that, the end of many summery past times. For some of them that means closing up the cabin, winterizing the boat, emptying the pool, and for some that even means contemplating the end of BBQ’ing for the season. Me, I’m just getting started. While I grill throughout the summer, I look forward to cooler temperatures, when I can enjoy sitting outside, tending a slow fire, without having to worry about passing out from heat stroke. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I really do prefer BBQ’ing in the cooler weather when I can enjoy being outside, not when it is 90+ degrees and all I want to do is jump in a pool. For me, summertime is a time for quick grilling of burgers, steaks, chicken wings, etc. while spring and fall are when I enjoy spending hours nurturing the long slow fires required by true barbecue and smoking. This weekend I was hungry for some ribs and it being Labor Day weekend, it just seemed right to spend a part of it outside tending a grill. The rub and the sauce I present to you today are just 1 of the many I have in my arsenal of rubs and sauces, many of which I hope so share with you in the future. When it comes to sauces, I have many that I make completely from scratch and others that start with a base of BBQ sauce that I then modify beyond the point of recognition. This sauce is one of those. Don’t be put off by its start as a bottled product. The end result is damn good.

Barbecued Ribs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Dry Rub
3/4 cup Sugar, granulated
3 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Curry Powder
2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
1 tsp. Dried Mustard

4 racks Baby Back Ribs

Mix all ingredients together and set aside. Flip the ribs so that the bone side is facing up. Using a paring knife, start to peel the thin, tough membrane from the bones. Once you have it started you can just grab it with your hands and pull it off. Generously rub half the dry rub into the ribs. Flip them over and use the rest of the rub on the tops of the ribs. Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for 3 hours for more.

Bourbon BBQ Sauce
1 Onion, peeled and thickly sliced
1 Jalapenos (1 to 2)
1 cup Bourbon
1 qt. BBQ Sauce (your favorite store brand)
1 1/2 cups Coke
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup Yellow Mustard
2 Tbsp. Bourbon

Grill the onion slices until lightly charred. Grill the jalapenos until the skin is blackened, then using a paper towel remove as much of the skin as possible. Don’t worry about removing it all. Roughly chop the jalapeno and onion, removing the jalapeno seeds first if you want a milder BBQ sauce. Place in a nonreactive saucepan with a little vegetable oil and cook over medium heat until the onions have wilted. Carefully add the bourbon, using extreme caution as it might flame up. Add the coke and the remaining ingredients. Simmer over medium low heat for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened again. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp. of Bourbon.

20 minutes before you are ready to start cooking. Light 20 charcoal briquettes or the equivalent amount of lump charcoal and allow to burn until coated with a light layer of gray ash. Set the grill up for indirect cooking by placing the charcoal along 2 sides of a kettle style grill. Place the ribs in the center, between the the charcoal. Add about 1/4 cup of soaked wood chips to the coals, and cover, adjusting both top and bottom vents to maintain temperature and good airflow so that the smoke doesn’t sit in the chamber too long. As the heat starts to wane add 20 more briquettes that have been burnt like the first, until covered in a light layer of gray ash. Continue adding charcoal as necessary to maintain a temperature of approximately 220-225 degrees, the optimal temperature for BBQ’ing. Add fresh wood chips every 15 minutes for the first hour and then whenever you add more charcoal. Flip the ribs occasionally. At this temperature the ribs will take approximately 2-2 1/2 hours.During the last 20 minutes brush the ribs with the sauce, glazing both sides of the ribs.