When we first started cooking ribs for competition, this was one of the sauces we developed. You can substitute your favorite bourbon for the Wild Turkey. This sauce gives the ribs a real nice color….and the taste ain't bad neither! This bourbon bbq sauce is excellent to use with the rib cooking techniques found in our book, Competition BBQ Secrets.
Mix all ingredients and simmer on stove until sauce thickens.
Don't place meats directly from the refrigerator onto the smoker. Allowing meat to warm up on a kitchen counter (always keep the meat covered) will not only reduce the cooking time, but also result in a finished product that is more tender. I'm not talking about leaving the meat out for hours upon hours, but enough time to knock the chill off the meat. I also don't recommend this with chicken. Chicken should go from refrigerator to smoker to avoid any problems with bacteria.
You don't have to start from scratch to develop your very own "signature barbeque sauce". There are a lot of good sauces that can be used as a base for your sauce. One that I currently use at home is Cattlemen's Classic Barbecue Sauce. Take the base sauce and then use your imagination and taste bud's to arrive at your own special sauce. Some of the things you can add to a base sauce are honey, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, red pepper, hot sauce, beer, bourbon, cola, etc. Just remember to write down measurements and the ingredients you use so that you can duplicate the sauce. Working on a sauce recipe like this can be a lot of fun! Just make sure you have plenty of refrigerator space for all of the new sauces you create.
Stop using cheap basting brushes that can leave bristles on your barbeque. I didn't like the idea of using silicone basting brushes, I had always used bristle brushes. But Laura bought me a bunch of silicone brushes and after using them I'll never use a bristle brush again. These brushes cleanup so much easier than bristle brushes. And they won't rust like the ferrule does on a bristle brush. Do yourself a favor and try them.
Wash and pretrim meats at home if it is allowable in the contest rules. We cook spareribs and cut them St. Louis style. This is much easier if done at home under controlled sanitary conditions. Anything you can do at home gives you more free time to enjoy fellowshipping with other competitors.
It's hard to see all three slabs of ribs that are cry vacuumed together when purchasing at a store. If I buy six slabs, usually two or three slabs may not be good enough for competition. So try buying more slabs than you normally cook at a contest. I cook six slabs so I will buy twelve slabs and hand pick the best slabs when I pretrim the ribs at home. The same idea can be applied to chicken. I cook 20 chicken thighs at a contest, but I buy 40 thighs and hand pick the best. I feel it is much easier to finish with a great piece of meat, if you start with a great piece of meat.
Put together any rubs or sauces at home before a contest. Again this gives you more time to enjoy the competition and you don't have to carry all of those ingredients. Remember whatever you take to a contest, you then have to pack it back up and unpack it when you get home. Plus, making your sauce ahead gives time for all the ingredients flavor to blend together.
Author of Competition BBQ Secrets