Making your own homemade barbecue sauce is much simpler than you might think. This version is laced with smoky bacon and bourbon. Use a bourbon you like, but there’s no need to splurge when it comes to price — we go for mid-range, ourselves.
4 ounces bacon, chopped (4 to 5 slices)
1 medium onion, sliced into half moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup (175 ml) bourbon, use a mid-range bourbon like Woodford Reserve or Bulleit
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 dashes hot sauce, optional
Arrange bacon, in one layer, at the bottom of a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Place the pan over medium heat and cook bacon until the fat has rendered and bacon is browned, but not crispy; about 8 minutes. Check the amount of fat that has rendered and remove all but 2 tablespoons from the pan. You have the choice to remove or leave the bacon, see our note below about whether or not you should remove the bacon or leave it in.
Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin then cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cook at a low simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly (a good visual is when the sauce can hold a line on the back of a spoon when you drag a finger through it), about 25 minutes.
Taste sauce for seasoning then adjust with additional salt, pepper or sugar as needed. Remove from the heat then blend until smooth. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate up to one week or freeze up to one month.