Papa Jack's Sweet Heat Marinade

Papa Jack's Sweet Heat products were concocted by Jack Powell of Northern Alabama. Jack has a long history with BBQ. At the age of twenty, he learned to slow smoke pork and chicken in his father's restaurant, JP's. Forty years later, Jack is still fully entrenched in the world of BBQ with his unique line of regionally influenced products.

Jack's Sweet Heat Marinade is a remarkably versatile mustard based product. Jack markets his sauce as a "Rib, Wing & Slaw Sauce." In North Alabama, mustard slaw is the preferred compliment to slow smoked BBQ. Papa Jack originally developed his product for slaw. In an effort to spread the word about his product outside of Northwest Alabama, Jack began experimenting with his sauce's uses and marketed it accordingly.

I put Papa Jack's Sweet Heat Marinade to the test on a couple of occasions this week. First, I whipped up a batch of Papa Jack's slaw based on the recipe provided on the jar. Mustard slaw was completely new to me. I grew up on sweet, mayo based slaws in Michigan. Now living in the Carolinas, vinegar slaws are all I ever see.

The slaw's flavor is much more bold than what I'm used to, but I enjoyed the change. Though the slaw was good on its own, there is no doubt that it works best in tandem with BBQ. Slopping Papa Jack's slaw on a BBQ sandwich is a winner. I paired some with BBQ meatballs this weekend. I loved the bold mustard slaw with a sweet, tomato BBQ sauce.

Later in the week I decided to test the sauce's versatility by using it on wings. I baked a couple dozen chicken wings and tossed them in Papa Jack's Sweet Heat Marinade. The sauce provided a unique contrast to the other traditional wing and BBQ sauces I was using.

There are so many uses for Papa Jack's Marinade. I'm looking forward to trying it on burgers and dogs. If I have any left over, I may even brush some on a rack of ribs. If you enjoy mustard based products, I strongly suggest giving Papa Jack's Marinade a look.

For more information about Papa Jack's Marinade, click the title of this review. See how this sauce compares to others on the "Product Reviews" page.

Jake's Famous Ketchup

Ketchup is the ultimate American condiment. Everybody loves it. I couldn't imagine burgers and fries (or scrambled eggs) without it. It's the perfect sweet compliment to all of our favorite savory foods.

As part of Jake's (of Jake's BBQ Sauce and Seasoning Co.) effort toward expansion, he has created his own all natural European style ketchup. Like all of Jake's products, Jake's Famous Ketchup is made from quality, all natural ingredients. Unlike nearly all other commerically produced ketchups, Jake's contains no high fructose corn syrup.

Targeted at discerning foodies, Jake's Famous Ketchup is packaged in 12 oz glass bottles and slapped with a great retro label. The Jake's Famous logo is quite a departure from Jake's Original BBQ Sauce logo, but I love the new look. The deep red ketchup looks great in the bottle. The product definitely scores some style points.

As I said before, Jake describes his ketchup as "European Style." His blend is thick and has a similar texture to quality American ketchups. The real difference is in the flavor. Jake's Famous Ketchup is a tangy, savory condiment. Because it doesn't contain any HFCS, it's not nearly as sweet as traditional American ketchup.

Some people may have difficulty with the lack of sweetness. I, myself, prefer a sweeter ketchup to contrast salty french fries. However, the added vinegar tang makes up for it to some degree. Jake's Famous Ketchup may be best served on grilled burgers and dogs.

For individuals looking for HFCS free options, Jake's Famous Ketchup is a great alternative to traditional American ketchup. In addition to it's more sophisticated flavor, Jake's also provides a great deal of style. The bottle looks great on the table.

This product is brand new so you won't find it in stores or online just yet. However, check back with Jake's website. I'm sure they'll have information posted about their ketchup in the near future. See how Jake's Famous Ketchup rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Demon Pig BBQ Sauce

Demon Pig BBQ sauces are produced in Breezy Point, MN. While it may not currently be prime BBQ weather in Minnesota, I'm happy to use Demon Pig sauces all year long. A couple of months ago I reviewed Demon Pig's Blaze Orange sauce. They also sponsored a product giveaway. This week, I finally got around to opening a bottle of Demon Pig's original BBQ sauce.

Demon Pig BBQ Sauce can definitely be classified as a sweet sauce. The ketchup based sauce has a candy sweet initial flavor aided by brown sugar and corn syrup. Sweetness, however, is not the only thing that Demon Pig brings to the table. The flavor is also accented with natural hickory smoke, onions and additional spices. I would equate it to a Kansas City style sauce with the sweetness level turned up a few notches.

Demon Pig's medium thickness makes it very versatile. It can be used as a dip or finishing glaze. It's equally good for both applications. Demon Pig recommends using their sauce as a ketchup alternative. They suggest using it on fries, eggs and burgers. My recommendation would be using the sauce for ribs or BBQ chicken.

I've spoken multiple times with the winner of our Demon Pig BBQ Sauce giveaway, Dustin Hall. He speaks very highly of both sauces, particularly this original sauce. He also recommended the sauce for grilled chicken.

Demon Pig BBQ sauces are great for competition cooks and backyard grillmasters alike. In addition to their two excellent BBQ sauces, they also make a BBQ rub and wing sauce that I'm dieing to try. To learn more about the entire Demon Pig BBQ product line, click the title of this review. Check the "Product Reviews" page to see how Demon Pig BBQ sauce compares to other products.

Jake's Famous Taco Seasoning

It's not often that I get to sample and review new products before they even hit the market, but Jake's Barbecue Sauce and Seasoning Company has given me that opportunity. Jake's has recently developed two brand new products to add to their lines of all natural sauces and seasonings. I was fortunate enough to get samples of both products, Jake's Famous Ketchup and Taco Seasoning.

Jake's Famous Taco seasoning is an all natural blend of authentic Mexican flavors. Jake recommends his new seasoning for beef, chicken and fish tacos as well as burgers and chili. Like most commercially produced taco seasonings, Jake's Famous is packaged in convenient (30g) single serve packets. Simply add the contents of the package to a pound of your choice of meat.

I rarely use seasoning packets for preparing tacos at home, but I was intrigued by this product because of Jake's reputation for producing quality, natural products. A quick rundown of the ingredients provided a surprise. I've never seen sugar listed first in taco seasoning ingredients. The rest of the ingredients, salt, garlic, chili and herbs, are pretty typical. Jake's also adds lemon for an unexpected, but welcome, hint of citrus. What stands out about the ingredient list is what is NOT included. You won't find any artificial flavors, MSG or preservatives.

The flavor of Jake's Famous Taco seasoning is much more fresh and light than typical packaged seasonings. It's also far less salty. In my opinion, the lemon is the key. The citrus flavor really sets this seasoning apart from others that you'll find. The seasoning was surprisingly fresh on grilled chicken that I used for taco salads.

Before today I would have never recommended a packaged taco seasoning. However, Jake's Famous Taco seasoning isn't your typical packaged product. Jake's puts the same emphasis on quality for their taco seasoning as they do for their award winning BBQ sauce. No information is currently listed on Jake's website about their new products, but check back in the near future. See how their taco seasoning compares to other dry seasoning blends on the "Product Reviews" page.

Uncle Kenny's Mustard BBQ Sauce

The third and final sauce to be reviewed from Uncle Kenny's BBQ is their award winning Mustard Barbeque Sauce. Like their Spicy and Original sauces, Uncle Kenny's Mustard Barbecue Sauce comes in a stout 20 oz bottle with their signature black label.

Uncle Kenny's Mustard Barbeque Sauce is unique in that it combines yellow mustard and brown sugar with their Original sauce for a sweet, tangy hybrid. Because the mustard is blended with traditional BBQ sauce, the color is darker than what you'd expect from a mustard sauce. The sauce is more brown than yellow and speckled with pepper and various spices throughout.

In my experience, mustard sauces are really hit and miss. I don't think simply adding a little sweetness or heat to regular yellow mustard is enough to call it a BBQ sauce. Thankfully, Uncle Kenny's has gone above and beyond to create an exceptional mustard based BBQ sauce. I love the idea of combining the excellent flavor of their Original Kansas City style sauce with sweetened mustard. The depth of flavor that this combination provides greatly excedes that of most mustard sauces.

The sauce is sweet and tangy with a little bit of spice, but still manages to hold its identity as a mustard sauce. Mustard is definitely still the dominant, most recognizable flavor. However, it's accented nicely with sweeteners and a variety of other flavors.

I used Uncle Kenny's Mustard Barbecue Sauce on pulled pork and as a dip for meatballs. It was very good on both occasions. It could also be excellent brushed on ribs or chicken. Uncle Kenny's Mustard is a medium thick sauce which makes it very versatile. If you like mustard sauces, you can probably enjoy it on just about anything.

If Uncle Kenny's isn't the best mustard sauce I've ever had, it's awfully close. Mustard sauces are so easy to get wrong, but Uncle Kenny's seemingly got it exactly right. To learn more about Uncle Kenny's Mustard Barbecue Sauce and their entire product line, click the title of this review. See how this sauce compares to other BBQ sauces on the product reviews page.

Game Day Recipes: Week 12 - Meatballs

Meatballs are a classic manly appetizer for a variety of occasions. Our beef and pork meatballs are versatile enough to serve on toothpicks with your favorite dipping sauce or as a side for your favorite Italian dish. This recipe is completely customizable. Mix and match your favorite sauces and seasonings with this base recipe depending on the occasion.

Here are the ingredients: 2 lbs 80/20 ground beef chuck, 1 lb pork breakfast sausage, 1 finely diced medium onion, 2 eggs, 1/3 Cup bread crumbs, 1/4 Cup yellow mustard, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp black pepper.
Put all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand until you've got on large loaf.

Roll the mixture into individual meatballs around 1.5 - 2 inches in diameter.

The meat mixture should yield about 35 meatballs. Once the meatballs have been rolled, you have a couple cooking options: 1. Brown the meat for a couple of minutes in a skillet and transfer them to a slow cooker on low heat. Add a bottle of your favorite sauce and allow the meat to simmer until you're ready to serve them. 2. Bake in a large baking dish @ 375 for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are brown and cooked through.

I typically use the baking method for my meatballs unless I'm using them for a party. I serve the meatballs with a variety of dipping sauces. This recipe also makes great meatballs for subs or spaghetti.

This is the 12th and final game day recipe for 2011. I hope you've enjoyed this series. God willing, we'll be back next season with twelve new recipes to tempt your tastebuds.

Butcher BBQ Honey Rub

Butcher BBQ (Chandler, OK) has a hand in nearly every facet of the BBQ world. In addition to competing in BBQ competitions and owning a custom meat processing facility, the folks at Butcher BBQ also produce a full line of BBQ injections and rubs. Their products are used by competition cooks all over the country.
I'd seen Butcher BBQ products being used by BBQ cooks that I admire and was anxious to give them a try.

The first product that I had a chance to use was Butcher BBQ's Honey Rub. This spice rub, like all of their rubs, comes in a large 16 oz. plastic shaker. The sweet rub combines sugar, salt, honey powder and a few additional spices to create a blend taylor made for chicken and pork.

I used the Honey Rub on a grilled pork loin. I coated the entire loin liberally with Honey Rub and seared it on all sides. I then reduced the heat and allowed the loin to cook through. The sweet rub was outstanding on the pork loin. The sugars carmelized nicely giving the loin great color. The honey powder is the key element. It brings a unique sweetness to the table. Most sweet rubs rely on brown sugar which has a much different flavor profile.

If you're a fan of adding sweet elements to your BBQ (as I am), Butcher BBQ's Honey Rub is a great option for pork or chicken. I also really enjoy the rub on potatoes. It's excellent as an alternative to salt and pepper on nearly every form of spud. I love it on mashed potatoes, french frys and tater tots.

For more information about Butcher BBQ products, click the title of this review. See how their Honey Rub compares to other spice rubs on the "Product Reviews" page.

Pan Grill It

I'm fortunate enough to live in the South where my grilling season lasts throughout the year. For those living in the Northeast or Midwest, grilling may not sound too appealing in the winter months. For you unfortunate souls, a snow shovel may actually be categorized as grilling accessory in January. As winter beckons, people of the cold regions need not fret. Pan Grill It (Detroit, MI) has you covered.

Pan Grill It is a heavy duty cast iron grill pan insert that fits any standard 12" skillet. With Pan Grill It, you grill all of your favorites inside without dealing with frost bitten fingers. Simply preheat a skillet with Pan Grill It inside and add your favorite meat, seafood or vegetables for authentic grilled flavor.

In addition to bringing the grill indoors, Pan Grill It provides a number of other benefits. Like cooking on a traditional grill, Pan Grill It provides a low fat way to cook indoors. It can also be a lifesaver when camping or tailgating. Fix Pan Grill It over a camp fire for an instant grill. You can also place Pan Grill It over the grates on public grills to ensure a clean cooking surface.

I used the Pan Grill It for chicken breasts over the weekend. The Pan Grill It provided nice grill marks on the chicken while allowing the fat to drip down to the pan. It wasn't much different than using a regular gas grill. The only negative I can see with Pan Grill It is the clean up. Being cast iron, it's not dishwasher friendly. It can be difficult to get a wire brush in between the grates of the pan. If it's something that you're storing in a kitchen cupboard, you obviously don't want food chunks left on the pan when it's being stored.

To learn more about (or to order) Pan Grill It, click the title of this review. Pan Grill It is a versatile, durable and affordable gift option for home cooks and grill masters. Currently, you can order two Pan Grill It inserts for $39.90 with free shipping. Don't forget to see how Pan Grill It rates on the "Product Reviews" page.

Uncle Kenny's Original BBQ Sauce

Though Uncle Kenny's is currently produced in Florida, it's maker's Missouri roots are very evident in their Original BBQ sauce. Displaying all the classic elements of a traditional Kansas City sauce, Uncle Kenny's Original sauce is a semi-sweet tomato sauce that folks from just about anywhere can enjoy.

Uncle Kenny's Original sauce comes packaged in a 20 oz. glass bottle with a simple black label. The packaging isn't flashy, but I still found it very appealing. Through the bottle, the sauce looks great. It had a rich, dark color and was speckled with black pepper and spices.

The aroma was enticing on every level. The sauce's sweetness, smoke and spice were all discernable. No one element overpowered the others. Based on the aroma, I was expecting a delicious, well balanced sauce.
After the first taste, I knew that's exactly what I had. The sauce's initial flavor is sweet, but mildly so. The sweetness is balanced by natural hickory smoke flavors and an extra note of spice.

I consider Uncle Kenny's to be a "Classic" BBQ sauce. It's the type of sauce that nearly everyone can enjoy. Uncle Kenny's Original is loaded with flavor, but it's not too sweet or too spicy. If you're looking for a sauce to serve to a crowd, Uncle Kenny's Original BBQ Sauce would be at (or near) the top of my list of recommendations.

If you're someone who needs more than just one recommendation before trying a new sauce, you'll have no trouble finding additional praise for Uncle Kenny's sauce. Their original recipe has won numerous awards including a 1st place finish at the 2011 American Royal competition (mild tomato category). People (and judges) all over the country seem to agree that Uncle Kenny's Original BBQ Sauce is a winner. They'll get no argument from me.

To order Uncle Kenny's Original BBQ Sauce, click the title of this review. See how it compares to other great sauces on our "Product Reviews" page.

Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce

The Louisiana Gold hot sauce line is produced by Bruce Foods. According to their website, Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce is "The Gold Standard of Hot Sauces." These quality, all natural sauces are still produced right in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country.

Traditional Cajun style hot sauces are simple blends of either cayenne or tabasco peppers with vinegar and salt. Louisiana Gold takes the concept to the next level by combining both styles of peppers for this premium sauce. The resulting sauce features a smoother taste than traditional tabasco sauces with a little extra heat than what you'd expect from a cayenne red pepper sauce.

The best thing about Cajun style hot sauces like Louisiana Gold is their versatility. Foods like eggs, pizza, tacos and burgers can all benefit from a shot Louisiana Gold. I used the sauce on Mexican fixtures, tacos and nachos. It's also perfect for adding an extra kick to my jambalaya casserole.

The heat level of Louisiana Gold is fairly substantial. However, it's sneaky heat. It doesn't really hit until the sauce makes it to the back of your throat. That's when the burn sets in. The fact that it's not overpowering as soon as it hits your tongue makes it the perfect accomplice for most foods. It allows the flavor of the food to stand out and follows it with it's signature spice.

Louisiana Gold really does set the standard for Cajun style hot sauce. The blending of cayenne and tabasco peppers gives the sauce an added depth not found in most sauces of its kind. To learn more bout the Louisiana Gold product line, click the title of this review. See how Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce rates compared to other sauces on The "Q" Review's "Product Reviews" page.

Mad Dog Chipotle BBQ Sauce

All natural Mad Dog BBQ Sauces are produced by Ashley Foods Co. of Sudbury, MA. Founder, David Ashley, got his start in the food business managing Alice's Restaurant, made famous by the Arlo Guthrie song, in mid 70s. Ashley credits his time at Alice's Restaurant for learning the importance of using quality, natural ingredients.

Later, Ashley started experimenting with creating his own BBQ sauces. As is often the case with small sauce companies, David used his eager friends as test subjects until he settled on a suitable recipe. With a little convincing from his wife, David started commercially producing his own sauces in 1991.

In addition to their Mad Dog line of BBQ sauces, Ashley foods also produces dozens of different hot sauces. Most of their products, like the Mad Dog 357 line, feature the hottest ingredients on earth. Ashley's BBQ sauces and hot sauces have gone on to win numerous awards and have become favorites of chili heads all over the country.

David was kind enough to send samples of his Mad Dog BBQ sauces for review. The first product that I tested was the Mad Dog Chipotle BBQ sauce. This sauces adds smoked chipotle peppers to the already bold, rich flavors of Mad Dog's Original sauce.

Like all the Mad Dog BBQ sauces, the Chipotle sauce is packaged in 12 oz bottles with a slick label featuring the picture of what appears to be a lab named "Bear." The label's color scheme is simple and stylish. Mad Dog's packaging is among my favorites.

After cracking the seal, I was immediately hit with the aroma of smoked chipotle peppers. There was no doubt, after smelling the sauce, that Mad Dog Chipotle BBQ was going to bring some bold flavor. I poured a bit of the dark, thick sauce onto a cracker to sample it. Molasses provides a deep, immediate sweetness. The sweet flavor is quickly overcome by the chipotle smokiness. Mad Dog's flavors are deeper and richer than most. Well blended, natural ingredients truly make a difference. The sauce finishes with a fair amount of heat. For those who like the spice, it's a pleasant burn.

I brushed Mad Dog Chipotle BBQ Sauce on a grilled pork loin. The sauce is just the right texture for brushing. Because it's not an ultra sweet sauce, Mad Dog didn't burn on the grill.

Mad Dog Chipotle BBQ's smoky heat really stands out in a market full of sweet sauces. David Ashley's commitment to quality is obvious in this product. Mad Dog's sauces are among the most award winning sauces in America for a reason. To learn more about all of Ashley Foods Co.'s products, click the title of this review. See how Mad Dog Chipotle BBQ compares to other BBQ sauces on the "Product Reviews" page of this blog.

Game Day Recipes: Week 11 - BBQ Chicken Dip

A good dip is a necessity for every great football party. Our BBQ chicken dip is guaranteed to be a hit. Sweet, savory and creamy ingredients are blended in perfect balance and heated until the mixture is soft and bubbly.
The ingredients are shown above: 2 large cooked chicken breasts (diced), 3/4 cup BBQ sauce, 1 cup ranch dressing, 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream and 1 cup shredded cheese.
In a medium saucepan, warm the chicken and BBQ sauce (I used Uncle Kenny's Original). Stir until mixed thoroughly.
Add both packages of cream cheese and the ranch dressing. Continue fold in the cheese until it's blended.

Transfer the chicken and cheese mixture to a baking dish. Top with the shredded cheese. I also added some dried parsley flakes. Bake @ 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The cheese should be fully melted and the edges should be just starting to bubble.

Serve the dip warm with crackers or tortilla chips. This dip is sweet and mild, but you can add a little spice with diced jalapenos. You can also use a hot BBQ sauce if want a little more heat. This dip will disappear quickly. If you're entertaining more than 6 people, I recommend doubling the recipe.

Doomer's "Q" Sauce (Original)

When you sample as many sauces as I do, you see a lot of copy cats. So many sauces follow proven formulas and fall neatly into traditional categories. True original sauces are few and far between. However, that's exactly what Todd Dooms (Doomer) has created.

Doomer characterizes his sauce as "Maryland Style" BBQ. I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what that means. While it's easy to associate vinegar sauces with the Carolinas or call thick tomato sauces Kansas City style, the phrase "Maryland Style" doesn't have the same tradition behind it. That being said, it's Doomer's barrier breaking individuality that makes the sauce so great. Whether Todd's sauce has actually created a new category of BBQ sauce is up for debate, but it's hard to deny that Doomer's "Q" is delicious and totally original.

I used Doomer's Original "Q" Sauce in a blind taste test over the weekend. The sauce scored well with most of the guests and generated a great deal of the discussion. The unique spices in Doomer's "Q" sauce had everyone guessing.

The flavor of Doomer's Original "Q" Sauce is difficult to explain. I guess the one disadvantage to Doomer's being so unique is that I don't have anything to compare it to. Doomer's starts with a typical blend of tomatoes and vinegar. It's the additional spices used by Doomer's "Q" that really set it apart. The earthy, ethnic flavors of tamarind and cloves are noticeable in the sauce's finish.

Doomer's Original "Q" Sauce is dark and relatively thin. I used the sauce as a dip for grilled chicken and sausage. I also poured it over pulled pork. The sauce can be brushed on meat as a finishing sauce, but I think it's best used as a dip.

Todd Dooms (Doomer) is doing his part to put Maryland on the BBQ map. His Original "Q" sauce uses an inventive blend of spices to create a style all its own. If you're willing to step outside your region's traditional sauce styles, I recommend giving Doomer's "Q" a try. To learn more about Doomer's "Q" Sauces, click the title of this review. See how Doomer's Original "Q" Sauce rates on the "Product Reviews" page.

Free Sauce Giveaway - Big Dave's Specialty Sauces

The "Q" Review is thrilled to partner with Big Dave's Specialty Sauces & BBQ for this week's giveaway.

Regular readers of The "Q" Review know how much I love Big Dave's products. Big Dave's is still the only company to have two products receive 5 star ratings on The "Q" Review. As luck would have it, the winner of this week's giveaway gets both (Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce and Wildfire Sauce).

This giveaway is open to anyone and will conclude Sunday, November 20th @ 8:00 p.m. et.

How to Enter: You can enter one of two ways. The choice is yours.

1. "Like" Big Dave's Facebook page AND mention The "Q" Review on their wall.


2. Comment on this blog post and mention Big Dave's. Please include your name in the comment so I can identify you if you win. 

Good Luck to everyone!

Charlie's Original Sticky Sauce

Charlie's Sticky Sauces are made in Ontario Canada. Charlie's currently offers their sticky sauce at three different heat levels. I've already reviewed their Stupid Hot sauce. This weekend, I decided to include their Original sauce in The "Q" Review's blind taste test.

Not only was Charlie's Original Sticky Sauce included in the taste test, it was the clear winner. All eight participants liked Charlie's. It was the only sauce not to recieve a single negative review.

Charlie's is a very thick, dark sauce with a rich, spicy aroma. The flavor is every bit as bold as the aroma. How could you expect anything less from a sauce with a smiling satan for its logo? Though the Original recipe is the most mild of their three sauces, it still has plenty of spice. I wouldn't call it a "hot" BBQ sauce, but it's definitely got some kick.

The thick, sticky sauce works well as a finishing glaze. Brush it on ribs, steaks or chicken as they finish cooking for a bold flavor boost. It's also my favorite sauce to use for my Deluxe BBQ Tacos. I plan to use it on burgers and meatloaf as well. I could see the bold flavors of Charlie's Sticky Sauce being great on many types of ground beef dishes.

Charlie's unique blend of bold spices creates a sauce that a lot of people can enjoy. Whether you like your sauce "Stupid Hot" or with just a little spice, Charlie's has you covered. Learn more about Charlie's by clicking the title of this review. See how Charlie's Original Sticky Sauce compares to other sauces on the "Product Reviews" page of this blog.

Momma G's Original Cooking Sauce

Momma G's is a small sauce company located in Vaughan, NC. Momma G's makes several varieties of all natural cooking / BBQ sauce. I was first introduced to Momma G's Cooking sauce during the summer at the Twin City Ribfest in Winston Salem, NC. The free sample of their Habanero sauce made such an impression that I returned later to purchase a bottle. Needless to say, I was really excited when a box of Momma G's samples unexpectedly arrived at my door.

I decided to feature Momma G's Original sauce in The "Q" Review's first blind taste test over the weekend. The thin, bright red sauce made a fine contrast to other sauces being used. Momma G's all natural sauces are thin, vinegar and tomato blends. The Original sauce is sweet and ultra tangy.

You won't find any scary ingredients on Momma G's label. Aside from vinegar and tomato paste, Momma G's Original is sweetened up with molasses and seasoned with proprietary blend of spices. This sauce is HFCS and preservative free.

The vinegar tang of Momma G's is substantial. Some people may be overwhelmed by it. However, if you typically enjoy North Carolina BBQ sauces, you'll love Momma G's. The longer I live in the Carolinas, the more these types of sauces grow on me. I've come to enjoy the tangy finish associated with North Carolina BBQ sauce.

Momma G's Original sauce worked well as a dip for grilled chicken and sausage. My recommendation would be pouring it over pulled pork (sandwhich or platter). The sweet, tangy sauce really enhances the flavor of the mild smoked pork. In my opinion, the sauce is a bit too thin to use as a grilling glaze.

Momma G's isn't afraid to be bold with their flavors. In addition to their regular sauce, they also feature Habanero, Jack Daniels and Ghost (ultra hot) varieties. I have a few more flavors to try myself. I suspect they'll be every bit as good as the original recipe.

To learn more about (or order) Momma G's sauces, click the title of this review. See how Momma G's Original compares to other BBQ sauces on the "Product Reviews" page.

Applegate Farms Organic Chicken & Apple Sausage

I've been so impressed with the Organics line from Applegate Farms. So far, I've reviewed their turkey burgers and a variety of pre-cooked sausages. You never quite know what to expect from frozen or pre-cooked meat, but each Applegate Organics product has exceeded my expectations.

This weekend I used Applegate Organics Chicken & Apple Sausage for a BBQ sauce taste test that I conducted with several friends. I grilled the sausages for a couple of minutes on each side until the exterior was browned and the sausages were heated through.

The sausage was a hit with the guests of the taste test. The flavors were sweet and mild enough for everyone to enjoy. Unlike pork sausages, these chicken sausages were lite and nearly greaseless. The sweet bits of apple complimented the seasoned chicken well.

Applegate Organics Chicken & Apple Sausages now rank among my favorite meat products. They're easily the most delicious pre-cooked sausages that I've ever tasted. Judging by the lack of leftovers in comparison with the other meats available, everyone else at the party approved as well.

Applegate products can be purchased in grocery store chains like Whole Foods, Food Lion and Kroger all across the country. Click the title of this review to find a retailer near you and learn more about the Applegate Organics product line. See the "Product Reviews" page of this blog for the Chicken & Apple Sausage star rating.

Piggin Out - The "Q" Review and Friends Blind Taste Test

I get samples of new products on a weekly basis. I always make it a point to thoroughly test and review each product myself. However, it's always helpful to get additional input from other people. With that in mind, I set up a blind taste test with four untested samples and six of our close friends.

I chose four sauces from my stash of products that I have yet to review: Charlie's Original Sticky Sauce, Momma G's Original Cooking Sauce, Sa-Mokin Competition BBQ Sauce and Doomer's "Q" Original. I poured each sauce into several two oz. plastic sample containers and numbered them 1 through 4. Each adult, including Katie and myself took sample cups of each sauce to use on grilled chicken, sausage and pulled pork that I had prepared for the occasion.

All eight adults gave each sauce a 1-5 star rating similar to how The "Q" Review rates BBQ sauces. Additionally, everyone was asked to comment on the attributes of each sauce that stuck out to them. It was a fun and interesting way to compare likes and dislikes. What makes a great BBQ sauce is truly a matter of opinion. As I found out yesterday, opinions can vary a great deal.

While the final scores were all very close, Charlie's Original Sticky Sauce (sauce #1) had the highest cumulative score and was the surprise winner. The interesting thing about Charlie's is that it was the only sauce not to receive a single 5 star rating. However, it was easily the most consistently rated sauce. Everybody scored Charlie's at least 3 stars.

Momma G's Original Cooking Sauce (sauce #2) was easily the most polarizing sauce. My guests either loved it or hated it. For some, the Carolina vinegar tang was too much to handle. I found this interesting considering most of the guests were native North Carolinians. The sauce did, however, earn one 5 star rating and a couple 4s.

Sauce #3, Sa-Mokin Competition Recipe, was the sauce that I expected to be the clear winner. It's a traditional, Kansas City style sauce that tends to be a safe bet for most people. While most of the guests scored Sa-Mokin in the 4 star range, two people felt like it was a bit too familiar. One person compared it to a generic store brand sauce.

The final sauce, Doomer's "Q" Original (#4) was easily the most talked about sauce. Doomer's unique flavor had everyone intrigued and guessing at the ingredients. Doomer's "Q" had the second highest cumulative score. Though the scores varied for Doomer's a great deal, it did earn one 5 star rating and generated plenty of discussion.

After we finished eating, I tallied up the scores (results below) and introduced each product to the participants. Everyone was very surprised to learn that the winning sauce, Charlie's Sticky Sauce, was made in Canada. The other topic that everyone wanted to know about was what ingredients were in Doomer's "Q" Original. Ultimately, it was decided that the tamarind and cloves were the spices that nobody could put their finger on.

The taste test was a fun way to spend time with friends and gather input about some new products. The diverse group of sauces allowed for personal preferences to surface and provided some interesting discussion. As the steady incoming stream of samples continues to flow, I foresee more of these events in the future.

Results: 8 adults scored each sauce 1-5. Total possible points = 40.

1. Charlie's Original Sticky Sauce - 26.5
2. Doomer's "Q" Original - 24.5
3. Sa-Mokin - 24.0
    Momma G's - 24.0

Comprehensive reviews for each sauce will be posted later this week.

Giveaway Winners: Hack's BBQ Sauce

Congrats to our giveaway winners Tom Gray and Grace Van Camp! You've each won a bottle of Hack's BBQ Sauce. This sauce is pepper and onion free, but not light on taste. I hope you enjoy it.

Please send your mailing addresses to . I will forward your info to Hack's so they can ship your prize.

Thank you to everyone that entered. I'd also like to thank Hack's for sponsoring this giveway. Be sure to check back with The "Q" Review next week for another awesome giveaway.

Casa Fiesta Mild Chili Salsa

Casa Fiesta is division of Bruce Foods and was a pioneer in the canned Mexican food goods industry. Casa Fiesta began production in El Paso, TX in 1931 and have been turning out economical, all natural Mexican inspired products ever since. The Casa Fiesta brand has grown to include over 100 different products like beans, salsas, sauces, and taco shells.

In need of a spicy snack, I cracked the seal on a jar of Casa Fiesta's Mild Chili Salsa. The chili salsa's ingredient list features only simple, natural ingredients. The salsa is a traditional tomato and vinegar base. It's heated with green chilis and jalapenos.

The salsa was thick and chunky and clung well to the tortilla chips. The flavor was rich and tasty as well. The tomatos were well balanced by the onions and peppers. The heat level was pretty substantial for a mild salsa. I like my salsas hot, but those expecting a typical mild salsa may be a bit overwhelmed by the jalapeno spice.

Katie and I both enjoyed Casa Fiesta's Mild Chili Salsa. You've got to respect a company that has been making qualty, all natural products here in the US for eighty years. Learn more about Casa Fiesta salsas and their entire product line by clicking on the title of this review. See how Casa Fiesta Mild Chili Salsa rates on the "Product Reviews" page.

Dizzy Pig Pineapple Head

The Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company produces eleven different all natural spice blends. Of the lot, Pineapple Head may be the most unique. While most BBQ companies focus solely on seasoning meat, The Dizzy Pig created a sweet spice blend designed specifically for grilled fruit and desserts. Dizzy Pig actually recommends Pineapple head for a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Customers have used it on everything from porkchops to icecream.

I decided to use my sample of Pineapple Head for its original purpose. I sliced a whole pineapple and applied a generous amount of seasoning to both sides of each slice. I grilled the pineapple for a few minutes on each side over medium-high heat.

This was my first time grilling pineapple (or any fruit). Grilling the pineapple definitely took a lot of the citrus tang out of the fruit. Though the sweetness was enhanced, the overall flavor was much more mild than fresh pineapple. Pineapple Head's cinnamon and sugar blend created a flavor profile similar to apple pie. I should have added a scoop of ice cream to the fruit. The sweet and earthy spices turned the tropical fruit into comfort food.

After using Pineapple Head, I can see it being good for many diverse applications. It's great for grilled fruit, but could be used to on cakes, pies and cookies as well. Were I to purchase Pineapple Head, I think I would also like to try it out on sweet potatoes. Though I'd have to test it to truly recommend it on meat, I could see Pineapple head providing a pleasant sweetness to pork chops, ham or chicken.

To learn more about Pineapple Head and other Dizzy Pig Barbecue products, click the title of this review. See how Pineapple Head compares to other spice rubs on our "Product Reviews" page.

Product Giveaway - Hack's BBQ Sauce

The "Q" Review is happy to partner with Hack's BBQ Sauce for this week's giveaway. Hack's is a bold, thick sauce that is completely onion and pepper free! Hack's is offering up 2 bottles of of sauce. This week, we'll have 2 winners!

This giveaway is open to everyone and will conclude on Sunday, Nov 13th @ 8:00 pm (et).

How to Enter:
Please read the directions carefully as they are somewhat different than previous weeks. There are 2 ways to enter:

1. "Like" The "Q" Review's Facebook Page (if you don't already) AND leave a comment mentioning Hack's.


2. Comment on this blog post and mention Hack's. Be sure to also include your name in the comment so I can identify you if you win. 


I highly encourage you (not required to win) to "Like" Hack's Facebook page as well. Thanks for entering

Uncle Kenny's BBQ Spicy Sauce

Uncle Kenny's BBQ was officially formed in Florida in 2004. However, the foundation for the endeavor was built long before. Two friends from Missouri, the self proclaimed BBQ capital of the world, began sharing their respective loves for BBQ in college. After college, both men moved to Central Florida and brought their Midwestern BBQ style with them. What started in the backyard eventually spread to catering and the local competition circuit. Eventually, Uncle Kenny's BBQ even established a full service restaurant in Winter Garden, FL.

Uncle Kenny's has developed three signature sauces (original, spicy and mustard) that they brush on everything from chicken to ribs. I was in need of some spice for my Deluxe BBQ Tacos so I reached for a bottle of Uncle Kenny's Spicy Barbecue Sauce.

Uncle Kenny's Missouri roots, specifically Kansas City, are quite obvious in their Spicy Barbecue Sauce. The sauce is a rich, dark red and speckled with black pepper flakes. The sauce has a thick tomato and molasses base. The aroma is smokey with a detectable note of spice.

Aside from the kicked up heat factor, the flavor represents traditional Kansas City BBQ as well. The sauce has some initial sweetness, but I wouldn't characterize it as a "sweet" sauce. The smokiness and heat over take the sweetness pretty quickly. It's difficult to balance flavors in a hot BBQ sauce, but Uncle Kenny's does a pretty good job of it. They don't get so carried away with the spice factor that they neglect the other flavor elements.

The heat level certainly limits the sauce's uses a bit. However, for those who like it hot, Uncle Kenny's is a good choice for brushing on chicken or ribs. The thick sauce sticks nicely to the meat and your fingers. So, grab a glass of milk and a rack of ribs smothered in Uncle Kenny's Spicy Barbecue Sauce and enjoy!

Rufus Teague Touch O' Heat

Made in Kansas City, Rufus Teague sauces define what the city's BBQ tradition is all about. Rufus Teague makes three varieties of BBQ sauce as well as two meat (steak) sauces and two BBQ rubs. Rufus Teague sauces are among the most award winning products on the market. They've garnered top honors from the industry's biggest and best competitions.

All of Rufus Teague's sauces are packaged in heavy glass flasks and wrapped in a cool vintage label with a photo of Rufus himself. With out a doubt, Rufus' packaging is the most appealing that I've found. Everything about the packaging says quality.

Touch O' Heat is a thick, dark tomato sauce that was designed for brushing on ribs, beef and chicken. Characteristic of Kansas City BBQ sauces, Touch O' Heat is semi-sweet and smokey. Rufus Teague sweetens their sauces with brown sugar and molasses giving it a rich, full bodied flavor. Touch O' Heat finishes with a natural hickory smoke flavor and a "touch of heat".

I used Touch O' Heat on both pulled chicken and pork ribs. It was phenomenal on both meats, but I'd give the ribs a slight edge. The sauce was tailor made for brushing on meat as a finishing sauce. Rufus Teague balances sweet, smokey and spicy flavors better than just about anyone.

I'd thought that I had a pretty good handle on what Kansas City BBQ sauce was all about, but Rufus Teague's Touch O' Heat has set a new standard. If semi-sweet and smokey are characteristics you look for in BBQ sauce, Rufus Teague should be your starting point. Click the title of this review to learn about Rufus Teague's various products. To see how Touch O' Heat compares to other BBQ sauces, click the "Product Reviews" page.

Product Giveaway Winner (Dimples BBQ Sauce)

Congratulations to our giveaway winner,  Joe Johnson. You've won a bottle of Dimples BBQ Sauce as well as a Dimples T-Shirt. The "Q" Review recently gave this sauce a 5 star rating. I hope you enjoy it.

Please email your mailing address to - I will pass it along to Dimples. They will ship your prize directly to you.

Thank you to everyone that entered. If you didn't win this time, check back next week. We've got several more great giveaways lined up.

Special thanks to Dimples BBQ Sauce for sponsoring this giveaway.

SuckleBusters Hog Waller

After reviewing SuckleBuster's Chipotle BBQ sauce and Competition BBQ Rub, I've come to expect a top quality product from this company. Hog Waller, a specially formulated blend for pork, met and exceded my expectations. The sweet, salty blend is SuckleBuster's best selling rub for good reason.

Hog Waller consists of salt, sugar and a proprietary blend of spices. The aroma is distinctly highlighted by a chipotle smokeyness. The rub features many flavors typical of a Texas style pork rub. However, it's a bit sweeter than most Texas blends.

I used Hog Waller on pork ribs this weekend and was very pleased with the results. I don't typically use salty rubs (or rubs with chili powder) on ribs. For that reason, I was a little unsure what to expect from Hog Waller. I seasoned both sides of the ribs liberally with Hog Waller and sauced them lightly as they finished. The rub was a fantastic compliment to the pork. The rub wasn't overly salty, but it the flavor still held its own with two different sauces.

Hog Waller is one of the best pork rubs I've used. As much as I've enjoyed SuckleBuster's other products, Hog Waller is my favorite thus far. I'll certainly return to it often when smoking pork ribs.

Learn more about Hog Waller and the rest of SuckleBuster's fine products by clicking the title of this review. See how it compares to other spice rubs on the "Product Reviews" page.

Game Day Recipes: Week 10 - Deluxe BBQ Tacos

Tacos are pretty much the perfect meal. They're easy to prepare and completely customizable. Everybody loves them because they can build their own. Though many people simply tear open a premixed seasoning packet and add it to their ground beef, tacos have the potential to be so much more exciting (with not as much effort as you would think). Our Deluxe BBQ Tacos mix ground beef with pork sausage, black beans and diced vegetables. They're seasoned with dry spices and finished with BBQ sauce and fresh cilantro.

This week's recipe has a few more ingredients than usual. Rather than picture them, I decided to list each one so you don't miss anything.

1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
1 lb. breakfast sausage
1 can black beans (drained)
1 medium onion (diced)
1 green pepper (diced)
1 jalapeno pepper (diced)
1 cup fresh cilantro (diced)
1 cup BBQ sauce
1.5 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

Brown the burger and sausage with the diced vegetables in a large skillet. When the meat is half way done, add the dry spices. Drain the excess grease and return the pan to the heat.
Add the black beans and stir the meat mixture. Set heat to medium-low.

Pour in 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. I used Uncle Kenny's spicy sauce. I recommend a semi-sweet and smokey Kansas City style sauce. The level of spice is a matter of preference.

Stir in at least a cup of freshly diced cilantro right before you serve the tacos. You don't want to cook all the fresh flavor out of the fresh herb. If you only take one thing from this recipe, I hope it will be the fresh cilantro. This herb adds a new, fresh flavor dimension to all Mexican dishes. Even if you're using the packaged taco seasoning, throw in a handful of cilantro.

You haven't had tacos until you've had these. Ditch the packet the next time you make tacos. You won't believe the difference. Katie and I top our tacos with shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.

Everglades Seasoning Cactus Dust BBQ Rub

Cactus Dust is a savory Southwestern style BBQ rub produced by Everglades Seasoning. The blend is salty with a hint of spice and natural mesquite flavor. Cactus Dust can be used as a rub or as a finishing spice for a variety of meats.

I used the blend on burgers and BBQ chicken thighs. Cactus Dust worked especially well on the burgers. No need to season them with anything else. The salt and savory spices provided just the right about seasoning for the grilled beef. The mesquite flavor was a welcome addition since I was cooking them on a gas grill.

If you like flavor profiles typically associated with Texas BBQ, Everglades Cactus Dust may be just what you're looking for. It's a versatile product that will add an extra dimension of flavor to just about anything you're grilling.

Learn more about Cactus Dust and the entire Everglades product line by clicking the title of this review. See how Cactus Dust rates compared to other spice rubs on the "Product Reviews" page.

Product Giveaway - Dimples BBQ Sauce

The "Q" Review is teaming up with Dimples BBQ Sauce for this week's giveaway. Dimples original BBQ sauce recently received a 5 star rating from The "Q" Review. Dimples is offering up a bottle of their sauce plus a Dimples T-shirt.

This giveaway is open to everyone and concludes Sunday, Nov 6th @ 8:00 p.m.

How to Enter - Please read the directions carefully. There are two ways to win.

1. "Like" Dimples Facebook page AND leave a comment mentioning The "Q" Review.


2. Leave a comment on this blog post mentioning Dimples. 

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