Kentucky Bourbon Brined Pork with Smoked Chile BBQ Sauce

Kentucky Bourbon Brined Pork Butt

This post is a total redemption to my improperly paired smoked pork roast with the chipotle-cherry BBQ sauce from a few weeks ago. First, because I just couldn’t give up until I found the perfect sauce to go along with the pork roast; and second, because I couldn’t keep my mind and my taste buds from thinking about!

You know what it’s like, right? You start thinking about BBQ pulled pork and then suddenly your visual memory recall goes into this slow motion, close-up replay of smoky, fork tender meat that’s just a little crispy on the edges, piled on a toasted bun with rich, thick, spicy barbeque sauce dripping down over the meat…sigh.

Wow, I just did it again!

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a hearty crop of hot peppers in your garden this summer, fire-roast a couple of them and bravely and add them to your BBQ sauce like I did. The smoky heat along with the sweet, tangy sauce is a perfect match for the tender pork.

You can use a grill or smoker for this recipe; my version is using a slow cooker. Either way, you should get similar results. For me, 10 hours of patience never tasted so good!

5-7 pound pork butt roast

For the Kentucky Bourbon Brine:
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 cups water

For the Rub:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons hot Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce:
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 roasted Poblano pepper, skin & seeds removed, chopped
1 roasted Jalapeno pepper, skin & seeds removed, chopped
2 canned chipotle chiles, finely chopped
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chile adobe sauce
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup Kentucky bourbon
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup molasses
½ cup catsup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) Combine the ingredients for the brine in a deep stock pot or kitchen safe bucket until the salt and sugars are dissolved.

2) Trim any excess fat layer from the roast and place the roast in the brining liquid. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight.

3) Remove the pork butt from the brining liquid and pat it dry. Combine the ingredients for the rub and apply it liberally to the entire surface of the meat.

4) Pour one cup of water in the bottom of the slow cooker and place the roast in the bottom of the cooker.

5) Cover the slow cooker and cook the roast on low for a minimum of 10 hours.

6) To prepare the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook the onion over medium heat until it is softened, about 3-5 minutes.

7) Add the garlic and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the garlic is slightly toasted.

8) Add the remaining sauce ingredients to the pan and stir until combined. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes until it has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat.

9) Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until it is smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

10) To serve the meal, place the roast a large platter and using two forks, pull the pork apart. Portion the meat onto toasted buns along with a spoonful of the sauce.

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