I don’t know about you, but I am not ready for it to be Memorial Day weekend already. Where in the heck did spring go? I’m still waiting for winter to show up, LOL. The only way I know that it is spring is that my allergies are in full swing … aaaah-choo!
When I realized that the long weekend was coming up, I decided to have a little BBQ sauce Taste-Off to see which of my sauces would work best with the grilled ribs and chicken I will be making soon. So I gathered up the sauces I have collected over the past couple of months and set them out for a side-by-side comparison. Fun!!
I knew I wanted to try the sauces with something grilled, so I picked up some boneless thighs and seasoned them very simply with just salt, pepper, and a little onion powder. I wanted the sauces to be the stars of the meal. A quick turn on the barbecue and they were ready to be used as the base for the tasting.
And of course you can’t just serve grilled chicken, so I rummaged through my vegetable drawer in the refrigerator and created todays chopped coleslaw. One of my pet peeves about most coleslaw is that they have long, stringy pieces of cabbage and other vegetables, making them awkward and messy to eat. By chopping and mincing all the ingredients uniformly, it is easier and tidier to eat. And yummy too!
This coleslaw is the perfect counterpoint to any grilled meats. It adds a nice crunchy bite to the plates and is a little creamy, sweet and tangy all at the same time. I love it and I hope you will too!
As good as the coleslaw is, and it delicious, let’s get back to the sauces, the real stars of my meal! There are so many sauces on the market that I could have had well over a hundred bottles lined up on my table, but I didn’t want it to get too complicated so I kept my selection to just four; SFQ – The Original San Francisco-Style BBQ Sauce, Cathy’s Sassy Sauce and two varieties from Stubb’s. This way our palates didn’t get blown out and we could still taste the nuances of the sauces.
SFQ BBQ Sauce from Michele Manfredi and Cathy’s Sassy Sauce from Cathy Hawk are creations of friends of mine in the Bay Area. I am so proud of both of these women for bucking the trend and following their passion!
All four sauces have earned their way onto grocery shelves, passing the rigorous testing required. They are all delicious and will appeal to a wide range of people. Each one has its own characteristics and I would serve any one of them at dinner parties.
SFQ – The Original San Francisco-Style BBQ Sauce is rich, full-flavored and well balanced with hints of chocolate, wine and fruits. It is very unique and creative, not your ordinary barbecue sauce. It was wonderful with the grilled chicken and I cannot wait to try it on grilled duck and pork. It would also be a delicious addition to a pan sauce if you are sautéing duck in the kitchen.
Cathy’s Sassy Sauce is exactly that, bright, assertive with the flavor of vinegar that is reminiscent of the sauces from the Carolinas. The tanginess is balanced by the sweetness of onions, Worcestershire sauce and other ingredients. If you like your sauce bold and sassy (just like Cathy herself), this is the one for you! I think it will be fantastic on grilled shrimp and am looking forward to that meal with relish!
Stubb’s, named for C.B. Stubblefield, was founded in Lubbock, Texas in 1968. The company has created a full line of sauces, as well as rubs and marinades, each designed for a specific type of protein, but you don’t need to limit yourself to the recommended meat. Their sauces were born of the tradition of Southern barbecue and are absolutely true to the flavors of Texas.
They reminded me of the best of the BBQ meals that I’ve had while traveling in Texas with the deep tomato flavor and touch of natural smoke flavoring making everything taste as though it spent many hours over a low fire. We sampled the Hickory Bourbon and Sweet Heat varieties of sauce.
The Hickory Bourbon sauce is absolutely perfect for children and anyone who likes a mild BBQ sauce. It would also be a fantastic base for your own kitchen creations. The Sweet Heat version was much more my style. The same basic flavor profile but kicked up with a touch of sweet chile heat. Both of these would be amazing on ribs, steaks, burgers or any bold proteins. If you want to be transported to Austin, Texas (where I will be attending BlogHer Food in a couple of weeks) try a bottle of Stubb’s.
The results of the taste-off were just what I expected. We liked all four of the samples and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. While some of the sauces would complement specific meats more than others, they all are terrific and would be a delightful addition to your grilling escapades. I promise that you will love the flavors of all of these sauces and they would be perfect accompaniments to any of your summer barbecues, starting with your celebrations this weekend!
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Have a great weekend and Happy Memorial Day!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you are using the sauce as a mop for your barbecue, pour a little into a bowl and use that to brush on the meats. You don’t want to risk contaminating your entire bottle of sauce with raw meat juices. If you do by mistake, make sure you pour all of the sauce into a saucepan and boil for a couple of minutes to kill off any bacteria.
Cathy’s Sassy Sauces and the entire line of Stubb’s sauces are gluten-free. You can enjoy any of them without worry. SFQ does contain hoisin sauce so please be careful if you have acute sensitivities to gluten or are Celiac.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 to 3 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Mirin, optional
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground celery seed
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, optional
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small Napa cabbage, core removed, chopped into small cubes
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled and minced
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, stem removed, seeded, and minced
- 2 stalks celery, trimmed and minced
- 2 carrots, trimmed and minced
- 1 cucumber, seeded and minced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeds and ribs removed if desired, minced
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the slaw ingredients. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly distribute all the vegetables. Add the dressing and toss until completely coated.
- Cover the bowl and cool the slaw in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour. Toss occasionally to keep all ingredients moistened with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- While it sits, the cabbage will give off a lot of liquid. Use a slotted spoon to serve, leaving excess dressing in the bowl.
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