Recipe: Pecan-crusted spareribs with Kentucky bourbon barbecue sauce

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes, plus about 3 hours cooking time for the ribs

Servings: 10 to 12

Note: This is my version of a popular sauce. Make the barbecue sauce at least 3 days in advance to allow the flavors to develop. This makes about 7 cups of sauce, more than is required for this recipe. The sauce will keep up to 2 weeks, refrigerated.

Kentucky bourbon barbecue sauce

1 large onion, thinly sliced, top to bottom

6 cloves garlic, crushed

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon, divided

2 cups Kentucky bourbon

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons chile powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

1 tablespoon salt, or more to taste

1/2 cup tomato paste

4 cups ketchup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/4 cup liquid smoke

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup molasses

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or other vinegar-based hot sauce

2 dashes bitters

1. In a heavy-bottom 4-quart pot, combine the onion, garlic, lemon zest and bourbon. Bring the bourbon to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and continue to cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the lemon juice, pepper, chile powder, mustard, onion powder, salt, tomato paste, ketchup, vinegar, pineapple juice, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, molasses, Tabasco and bitters and continue to gently simmer for 30 minutes. Stir frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent burning.

3. Remove from heat and purée the sauce until fairly smooth, using an immersion blender or blending in stages in a stand blender. Place the sauce in a nonreactive container and set aside until it comes to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until needed. Warm the sauce before using.

Pecan mustard rub and assembly

2 whole racks pork spareribs

1 tablespoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

4 teaspoons chopped garlic

3/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons chile powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or other vinegar-based hot sauce

4 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup beer

Kentucky bourbon barbecue sauce

1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

2. Peel the tough membrane lining the underside of the spareribs, then rinse the ribs, pat dry and place in a large roasting pan.

3. Evenly coat the racks on both sides with the salt, several grinds of pepper and the garlic. Set the racks aside while you make the rub.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, sugar, chile powder, onion powder and Tabasco to form a thick paste. Stir in the pecans until combined; this will form a sticky wet rub.

5. Rub the pecan mixture evenly over the rib racks on both sides to coat. Pour the beer into the roasting pan, then cover tightly with foil.

6. Place the ribs in the oven and cook until the meat is tender and curled away from the ends of the ribs (you should see about one-half inch of bone at the end of each rib), about 2 1/2 hours.

7. Remove the foil from the pan and mop the ribs with a generous coating of barbecue sauce. Cook the ribs an additional 30 minutes to allow the barbecue sauce to thicken and form a "crust" on top of the ribs. Remove from heat and allow the ribs to cool slightly. Slice and serve immediately with additional barbecue sauce on the side.

Each of 12 servings: 834 calories; 35 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 58 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 128 mg. cholesterol; 1,462 mg. sodium.