Bourbon-spiked barbecue sauce elevates grilled ribs for Fourth of July. There is no need to cook this sauce: The heat of the grill finishes the flavor of the sauce as it’s slathered onto the ribs or other meats or poultry. Double the recipe so you can have a jarful in the fridge. It lasts several weeks.

Throughout the year I turn to other cuisines to spice up my everyday cooking.

Korean gojuchang chili paste enlivens fish fillets, Provencal olive tapenade augments Italian pasta, Spanish smoked paprika and Middle Eastern za’atar spice spark boring chicken.

On the Fourth of July, however, I pay homage to my favorite domestic ingredients, employing Kentucky bourbon and tomato ketchup in a sweet and smoky sauce destined for ribs on a grill powered with hickory wood. Sorghum molasses adds sweetness while imported chipotle chilies and Dijon mustard imbue the smoky, tangy layers of flavor we crave. I love this American melting-pot style of cooking; tried-and-true standards acquire new life.

Kentucky bourbon likewise adds power to black tea for a cocktail we happily sip all day long. Fresh lemon and slices of local cucumber add cooling elements.

As for the pork ribs, the young Americans in our crowd prefer baby back ribs mostly for the pleasure of gnawing on the bones. Back ribs originate from the blade and center section of the pork loin, and are smaller and less fatty than spareribs. A rack weighs about 1-1/2 pounds and serves two to three people. I’m partial to country-style pork ribs, cut from the sirloin or rib end of the pork loin, with generous meatiness and rich flavor. You’ll need a knife and fork to enjoy them.

Baby back ribs cost considerably more than country ribs and take twice the time to cook, so plan accordingly. My husband says he enjoys either one when slathered with this dump-and-stir no-cook bourbon basting sauce.

Whichever ribs you choose to cook, be sure to set the grill up for indirect cooking — that is, no heat source directly under the meat. This allows you to use the grill somewhat like an oven with heat swirling all around, but with little chance of charring.

Always heed the pro-griller’s advice: The better the coals, the better the flavor of the meat. Natural, hardwood charcoal costs a bit more, but delivers on two fronts: Lots of heat and good, clean wood flavor. I nestle chunks of hickory wood (soaked in water so they smoke and smolder when added to the grill) among the charcoal for added flavor.

A patriotic red, white and blue dessert likewise reflects our all-inclusive appetite: A light, coconut milk and Greek yogurt pudding (panna cotta) topped with strawberries and native North American blueberries. Small canning jars or jelly glasses make attractive individual servings.

No need to cook this sauce: The heat of the grill finishes the flavor of the sauce as it’s slathered onto the ribs or other meats or poultry. Double the recipe so you can have a jarful in the fridge. It lasts several weeks.

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Preparation time: 5 minutes

  • 1 cup tomato ketchup, preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup sorghum or light molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or your favorite mustard
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pureed chipotle in adobo

Mix all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Refrigerate up to several weeks.

Makes about 2 cups.

Nutrition information per serving: 18 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 104 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

Bourbon Grilled Ribs

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes to 1 hour, 15 minutes

  • 2 large slabs baby back pork ribs (3 pounds total) or 3 pounds bone-in country style pork ribs
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Hickory or mesquite wood chunks
  • 2 cups bourbon barbecue sauce, or as needed (see recipe)

Pat ribs dry. Season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Refrigerate uncovered for up to 2 days. Remove from refrigerator while you prepare the grill so the ribs start to come to room temperature. Soak wood chips in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. When the coals are covered with a gray ash, arrange them on two sides of the grill leaving the center empty. Place a drip pan on the bottom of the grill and place the cooking grate on top. If using a gas grill, turn off the burners in the center of the grill and turn the other burners to medium.

Just before you put the meat on the grill, nestle a few wood chunks among the hot coals. Put ribs on grill over the drip pan (not directly over the heat). Cover grill and cook, turning once, until fork-tender and juices run clear, about 40 minutes for the country-style ribs or 1 1/4 hours for the baby back ribs.

Generously baste all sides of the ribs with the barbecue sauce. Grill covered until meat is nicely glazed, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from grill; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 438 calories, 33 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 113 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein, 375 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

You can purchase bottled simple syrup at a liquor store, but it’s easy enough to make.

Bourbon-Laced Iced Tea Refresher

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

  • 5 tea bags of black tea
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup simple syrup, see recipe
  • 1-1/2 cups bourbon
  • 12 very thin slices cucumber
  • Ice cubes

Heat 3 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan or in the microwave oven in a glass bowl. Add tea bags; let steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and chill tea.

Mix lemon juice and simple syrup in a large serving pitcher. Stir in bourbon and cold tea.

Put 2 cucumber slices in bottom of each of 6 tall glasses. Crush lightly with the back of a wooden spoon (or a muddler, if you have one). Add ice to fill the glasses. Pour in tea mixture. Stir and serve.

Simple syrup: Put 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil and swirl to completely dissolve the sugar. When the mixture boils and clears, remove it from the heat and cool. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for cocktails for several weeks.

Makes 6 drinks.

Nutrition information per serving: 179 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 1 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

Coconut Panna Cotta with Honeyed Berries

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 2 minutes

Chilling time: Several hours

  • 2 teaspoons (1 small envelope) plain powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar (coconut sugar is delicious here)
  • 1 can (5.4 ounces) coconut cream or 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Honeyed berries, see recipe
  • Sprigs of fresh mint

Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl. Let stand until softened, about 3 minutes.

Heat skim milk and sugar in large microwave-safe bowl on high, stirring once or twice, until sugar dissolves (rub a little between your fingers), about 2 minutes. Stir in softened gelatin until dissolved. Stir in coconut milk and salt until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Use a whisk to blend yogurt into cooled milk mixture. Divide the mixture among 6 squat jelly jars or glasses. Cover and refrigerate until set, 2-3 hours. (Or up to 3 days.)

Serve topped with a generous spoonful of the honeyed berries. Garnish with mint.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 238 calories, 4 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 42 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 91 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Honeyed Berries

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Chilling time: 20 minutes

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, stemmed, rinsed
  • 1 quart small ripe strawberries, hulled, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • Light honey to taste

Put blueberries into a bowl and use a potato masher or large fork to roughly crush them. Add strawberries and crush them a little. Stir in lime juice and honey to taste. Refrigerate 20 minutes or so.

Makes about 2 cups.

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 14 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Dinner at Home is a Tribune News Service column from JeanMarie Brownson, a former Tribune test kitchen director and current culinary director for Frontera Foods and Frontera Media Productions. She has co-authored three cookbooks with Rick Bayless, including “Mexico -- One Plate at a Time,” winner of the James Beard Foundation’s International Cookbook Award.

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