Texas Butter Smoked Jalapeno Hot Sauce

Texas Butter jalapeno hot sauces are true originals. These gourmet, small batch sauces don't quite fit the typical hot sauce molds. They're thick, versatile and bursting with flavors that go way beyond traditional pepper and vinegar blends.

After being blown away by Texas Butter's Mango Jalapeno Hot Sauce, I couldn't wait to crack the seal on another Texas Butter product. In need of a spicy compliment for a plate of nachos, I reached for Texas Butter's Smoked Jalapeno Hot Sauce.

Like "Mango", "Smoked" packed an insane amount of flavor. Rather than accenting the intense jalapeno flavor with fresh citrus tang, this variety of Texas Butter brings natural mesquite smoke to the party. The flavors were a perfect balance of fresh, smokey and spicy profiles.

Texas Butter Smoked Jalapeno Hot Sauce was fantastic on the nachos. The smokey sauce really brings a unique added dimension to Tex-Mex favorites. It's a great way to incorporate a smokey element to a variety of dishes.

Texas Butter is so unique in that their flavors are incredibly bold and complex, yet still very smooth. They're so versatile and compliment nearly everything. The sauces work great as marinades, grilling sauces or condiments. Simply put, Texas Butter jalapeno hot sauces are the tastiest pepper sauces that I've sampled to date.

At $8.75 for an 8 oz. plastic flask, Texas Butter sauces are a little spendy. However, if you've got the dough, it's money well spent. You can order your own directly from their website. See how Texas Butter Smoked Jalapeno Hot Sauce rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Bonfatto's Fire in the Hole

Every wing joint in America has that one notorious sauce that turns up the heat. They feature names like "Blazin", "Inferno", and "Bottled Hell". Each sauce is formulated to cause severe pain for anyone brave enough to to taste them.

Bonfatto's Fire in the Hole is their signature hot wing sauce. Fire in the Hole adds intense heat to their original wing sauce recipe. The bright orange sauce combines hot pepper sauce with butter, honey and natural spices to create a traditional Buffalo style flavor.

Bonfatto's classifies Fire in the Hole as "Dragon Heat". The burn is definitely intense. There is no doubt that this sauce qualifies as "hot". However, it's not insanely hot like some that I've had. I used Fire in the Hole on smoked chicken wings. It had a tangy burn that caused perspiration on my forehead, but still managed to be enjoyable. It also has a distinct sweetness that is detectable despite the heat.

The flavors of Bonfatto's Fire in the Hole are classic and familiar. The heat may be too much for the average person, but chili heads and heat seekers will appreciate the burn. This tasty, tangy sauce works equally well on fried or smoked chicken. Just be sure to use it sparingly.

Click here to see Bonfatto's website. See how Fire in the Hole rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Alaskan Umami Mandarin Sesame Vinaigrette & Marinade

This review has been a long time coming. Pamela Turner, creator and owner of Alaska Sweet & Spicy, sent me a samples of her Umami Sauce and vinaigrette months ago. While I posted the first review fairly quickly, the constant influx of products forced me to push back the vinaigrette review further than I had planned. Thankfully, I was able to put Alaskan Umami Mandarin Sesame Vinaigrette & Marinade to good use this weekend. With apologies to Ms. Turner, here (finally) is the review.

Alaskan Umami Mandarin Sesame Vinaigrette & Marinade is packaged in elegant tall glass bottles. They have a similar look to a quality bottle of imported olive oil. The dressing is available in 8.5 oz or 17 oz. bottles. Both sizes are slapped with Sweet & Spicy's bright yellow label.

This vinaigrette starts with Mandarin oranges and apple cider vinegar giving it a strong, yet sweet initial tang. The vinegar is complimented with savory spices and unique oils like sesame, safflower, and orange oil. The coarsely ground garlic and pepper not only accent the flavor but also the appearance. When thoroughly shaken, the spices float well dispersed throughout the dressing.

I used Alaskan Umami Mandarin Sesame Vinaigrette & Marinade as both a salad dressing and a marinade. I first sampled the vinaigrette straight on a fresh chopped salad. The dressing was superb on the vegetables. It was light yet provided a fresh citrus zing. I'm not typically a vinaigrette dressing guy, but perhaps that's because typical mass produced vinaigrette dressings don't match up to the fresh, quality flavors found in Sweet & Spicy's dressing.

As a marinade, the vinaigrette was equally as good. I marinaded a couple pounds of chicken breasts overnight and threw them on the grill. I was really impressed with how well the flavor permeated the chicken. I didn't see the need to season the grilled bird with anything else. We enjoyed the chicken in wraps for dinner and chopped on a salad for lunch the next day.

This vinaigrette dressing isn't limited to chicken and salad. I could see it being an excellent marinade for grilled shrimp or salmon. I'm planning to use the last of my bottle on some grilled cauliflower. Dipping hot bread in a bit of the dressing is a treat as well.

All of Sweet & Spicy's products can be purchased on their website. Take a look and place an order. Be sure to let Pamela know that you saw her products on The "Q" Review. Don't forget to see how Alaskan Umami Mandarin Sesame Vinaigrette & Marinade rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Capital City Mumbo Sauce

Unless you live in or around Washington DC, you probably aren't familiar with Mumbo Sauce. This sweet concoction has been a DC staple for decades. In the 1960s, a popular fried chicken joint began serving a sweet dipping sauce with their poultry. The sauce was so popular that chicken and Chinese joints all across the city began creating their own Mumbo Sauces. Today, Mumbo sauces can be found in restaurants throughout the DC metro area. Each joint's sauce differs slightly and (of course) everyone claims to have the best.

While Mumbo sauce can be found at nearly every takeout joint in DC, folks living outside our Nations capital have had a hard time getting their Mumbo fix. Capital City LLC has stepped in to meet that need. They've created their own Capital City Mumbo Sauce and ship bottles all across the country.

Mumbo Sauce was completely foreign to me before I stumbled upon their website. After reading about the sauce, I was anxious to give it a try. The folks at Capital City LLC were kind enough to send samples for review.

The sauce is packaged in 12 oz. squeeze and squirt plastic bottles. The sauce is smooth and bright red in the bottle. Capital City Mumbo Sauce is fairly thin, but the restricted mouth of the bottle keeps the sauce from pouring too quickly.

Mumbo Sauce is a very sweet tomato based product. The smooth, glossy sauce also has a slight savory element from the inclusion of cayenne pepper, garlic and soy flavors. Vinegar provides a mildly tangy finish. The Capital City website says that their Mumbo sauce falls somewhere between a BBQ and sweet & sour sauce. I'm inclined to agree. Although, I would say it more closely resembles the sweet & sour sauce from my local Chinese buffet. Capital City Mumbo Sauce is also available in a Sweet Hot version. For those that like it hot, habanero extract is added to the original recipe for a blazing sweet heat.

I used both Original and Sweet Hot Mumbo sauces on several different occasions. First, I tossed smoked chicken wings in Mumbo Sauce straight out of the smoker. The sweet sauce thinned and mellowed a bit after being on the hot chicken. The flavors complimented the smokey wings really well. I also used both sauces as a dip for chicken strips. If you like a sweet sauce, Mumbo Sauce is hard to beat for pairing with a salty fry batter.

Last evening, I improvised using Sweet Hot Mumbo Sauce to satisfy my Chinese food craving. I tossed breaded and fried chicken bites in the sauce and served it over fried rice. The combination of sweet and spicy were just what I was looking for.

As a lover of sweet sauces, Mumbo Sauce is right up my alley. It's great on wings, as a dip or for making your own Asian inspired dishes. If you're looking to try something new ....or a transplant from DC missing the taste of your favorite take out joint, give Capital City Mumbo Sauce a try.

Rufus Teague Meat Rub

Rufus Teague makes some of the tastiest Kansas City style BBQ sauces on the market. They combine quality, natural ingredients with stylish packaging to make one of a kind top-shelf sauces. I've been really impressed with Rufus Teague sauces and was anxious to see if their quality standards carried over to their Meat Rub.

Rufus Teague Meat Rub is packaged in conventional 6.5 oz. plastic shakers and is available in original and spicy varieties. The rub shares the same vintage label (one of my favorites) as their sauces. The texture is neither fine nor coarse, but somewhere in between. The rub has a great dark orange hue.

Meat Rub starts with a mix of brown sugar, salt and unspecified ground chilies. The main flavors are accented by the usual suspects, onion and garlic. The sugar and salt are well balanced, but the ground chilies are what elevate Rufus Teague's Meat Sauce above typical sweet and salty rubs. The chilies, though mild provide an entirely new dimension of flavor. This earthy, smokey element gives the rub more depth of flavor and makes it much more versatile. The spicy version simply builds on the original base by adding finely ground hot peppers for one last flavor dimension.

I used Rufus Teague Meat Rub on both smoked chicken and spare ribs. The rub was a good addition to both meats. I used the rub much more liberally on the chicken than the ribs because of the salt content. However, the salt proved not to be an issue. The chicken was flavorful, but not the least bit over salted . Because of the ground chilies, I think Meat Rub would also be an excellent compliment to smoked or grilled beef.

Rufus Teague's Meat Rub has become a valuable addition to my pantry. Like their sauces, Meat Rub is among the best products available in their respective categories. Rufus Teague's entire line of products appears to be top quality. To see more of their product, check out their website. See how Rufus Teague's Meat Rub rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Claude's Sauces Steak Sauce

Claude's Steak Sauce is the third Claude's product that I've had the opportunity to review. I previously reviewed their Hot & Spicy and Variety sauces. With Claude's hailing from the Lone Star state, I was anxious to sample their take on steak sauce.

Like all of Claude's products, their Steak Sauce is packaged in 16 oz plastic bottles. The labels are simple and distinct. The sauce is dark red like a Kansas City BBQ sauce. It's much thicker than an A1 style sauce. It pours slow and smooth.

Claude's Steak Sauce starts with a tomato paste base and adds a variety of savory elements like garlic, pepper, onion and real hickory smoke flavor. The sauce is also slightly sweet thanks the addition of papaya juice, molasses and other natural sweeteners. The aroma and flavor is somewhat akin to a BBQ sauce. I would characterize it as half BBQ sauce and half A1 style steak sauce.

I used this sauce to accompany grilled New York strips. Later I poured a bit of the sauce over a cheese steak. I like the sauce's flavor when paired with the meat. It was an especially good compliment to the black pepper rub that I used on the steaks. The flavors are substantial and savory. The hint of sweetness is a nice touch as well.

Claude's Steak Sauce is a tasty option for those that like to sauce up their grilled beef. It works well as a dip, but could also be a good condiment on burgers. Additionally, I think it would be a good change of pace to use on grilled chicken.

Visit Claude's website to order your own Steak Sauce. See how it rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Curt's BBQ Sauce - Upon Further Review...

As the saying goes, "There's a first time for everything". I gave Curt's BBQ Sauce an excellent 4.5 star review just a couple of weeks ago (Read Review Here). However, a great deal of thought and consideration has led me to amend that score. I don't plan on making a habit of changing ratings after they're posted. I think it diminishes the system's credibility and can be confusing. However, when I'm wrong, I've got to admit it....and in this case, I was definitely wrong.

Though 4.5 stas (out of 5) is a steller rating, I've come to the conclusion that Curt's deserves that last half star. I've used the sauce several times since the review was posted. In fact, it's been my first choice on nearly every occasion. Regardless of whether I was cooking wings, ribs or pulled pork, I just kept reaching for Curt's.

I've mentioned many times that I'm a sucker for a sweet and spicy sauce. Curt's delivers on both fronts. The final tipping point that convinced me of Curt's 5 star worthiness was the absolute anguish that I felt when I emptied the bottle. I haven't experienced heart break like that over an empty bottle in quite some time.

Alas, I'm using this opportunity to right an injustice. Curt's BBQ Sauce is a 5 star sauce if their ever was one. Check out Curt's website and order a bottle of your own. Let me know what you think. How would you rate it?

Oakridge BBQ Game Bird & Chicken Rub

Oakridge BBQ has gained quite a reputation amongst BBQ competitors and backyard warriors all over the country. Their all natural wild game and BBQ rubs are among the very best available. Formulated for everything from venison to pork and chicken, Oakridge uses only top shelf ingredients for each of its blends.

Game Bird and Chicken Rub is the second Oakridge BBQ blend I've had the opportunity to use. The first, Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken Rub, received a five star rating and ranks among my absolute favorite BBQ rubs. While Secret Weapon has recently been my "go to" rub for chicken and pork, I am quickly running out. I therefore turned to Game Bird when I smoked chicken legs this weekend.

Game Bird and Chicken Rub is a sweet, relatively mild rub that starts with raw cane sugar and sea salt. The ingredients aren't all that different from the Secret Weapon rub. It doesn't have quite the same earthy chili contrast as Secret Weapon, but the flavors are somewhat similar.

Game Bird is the type of versatile blend that qualifies as "all purpose". The "not too sweet" rub compliments vegetables and fried potatoes equally as well as poultry. The savory spices are aromatic and pleasant for nearly any application. There is even a slight note of heat from ground chilies.

I've used Game Bird on grilled and smoked poultry. The rub was perfectly seasoned for smoked chicken. The sweet and salty flavors were enhanced by the hardwood smoke. On the grill, the sugars caramelized forming a flavorful bark. The key to Game Bird (as with any good rub) is the perfectly formulated salt content. The rub is never lacking in flavor, but never overwhelms the meat with saltiness.

It would be hard for any product to top Oakridge BBQ's Secret Weapon Pork & Chicken Rub, but Game Bird certainly holds it's own in comparison. The sweet, mild rub is a fantastic option poultry and a variety of other dishes. To order your own, check out the Oakridge BBQ website. See how Game Bird rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Pigchaser Original BBQ Sauce

After Pigchaser's Habanero sauce received a five star review a few weeks ago, Ron (AKA the Pigchaser) sent me a bottle of his original recipe. Ron's sweet tomato sauce took years to perfect. Using only quality, natural ingredients, Ron pulled elements from other sauces that he liked to create his own signature recipe.

Pigchaser Original is a classic Kansas City style sauce with a slightly elevated level of sweetness. The sauce uses honey and tomato as its base. Out of the bottle it's dark red, glossy and smooth. The thick sauce pours slowly.

Pigchaser Original starts with a deep, rich sweetness. The sauce uses a diverse list of natural sweeteners: honey, brown sugar, white sugar, pineapple juice, and maple syrup. Though sweetness is the first flavor element to hit your tastebuds, Pigchaser balances all those sweeteners with traditional savory spices and natural hickory smoke flavor. Additionally, their is a slightly tangy finish from a small amount of mustard and vinegar.

I used Pigchaser Original on ribs that I smoked for a dinner with friends. The sweet, tomato sauce was a natural compliment to the smokey pork ribs. The thick sauce worked perfectly as a finishing sauce. It glazed the ribs nicely and provided a sweet, sticky coating.

Pigchaser Original is a true crowd pleaser. The familiar, balanced flavors make a sauce that nearly everyone can enjoy. Pigchaser is a sauce I would highly recommend for chicken and ribs. I would also suggest pairing the sauce with a savory spice rub.

You can get your hands on some of this tasty, all natural sauce directly from the Pigchaser website. If you're the type that loves a thick, Kansas City style sauce, this may be the perfect sauce for you. See how Pigchaser rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Texas Butter Mango Jalapeno Hot Sauce

Texas Butter hot sauce company (Pasadena, TX) is a small, family oriented business producing unique, hybrid sauces. Unlike typical red pepper sauces, Texas Butter uses fresh picked jalapenos and a blend of onions, garlic, vinegar and spices to yield their long held family recipe. The company offers four signature sauces: Original, Smoked, Mango and Gringo Furioso.

The first Texas Butter product that I had a chance to sample was their Mango Jalapeno Hot Sauce. The recipe for this sauce calls for the addition of sweet mangoes to their Original recipe. Texas Butter is packaged in 8 oz clear plastic flasks. The sauce is bright green in the bottle. It's much thicker than most hot sauces and pours pretty slowly.

The thickness of Texas Butter sauces make them extra versatile. They can be used like salsa as a dip or topping for tortilla chips. They also work as marinades for meat, poultry and seafood. Additionally, you can add a dash to any savory dish in need of a spicy boost.

I used Texas Butter Mango Jalapeno Hot Sauce on multiple occasions. Each time, I paired the sauce with Mexican inspired chicken dishes. The sauce provided an incredible boost of freshness and flavor to my chicken tacos and quesadillas. I always enjoy a good jalapeno sauce, but Texas Butter was really exceptional. The added element of sweetness from the mango was an excellent compliment to the chicken. The heat level was also right on point.

Having used the sauce numerous times with chicken, I'm convinced that it would also be crazy good on seafood. Whether as a marinade or grilling sauce, Texas Butter can add a bit of freshness and Baja spice to all kinds of dishes. I can't wait to add some Texas Butter love to grilled shrimp.

If you're the type of person that adds jalapeno slices or a dash of hotsauce to just about everything, you owe it to yourself to pick up a bottle of Texas Butter Hot Sauce. You'll be amazed at the concentrated flavor burst coming out of each bottle. You can order your own directly from their website. See how their Mango Jalapeno Hot Sauce rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce

Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce is produced in Mesa, AZ. Creator, Kay Weldon, developed her signature sauce during her years as a restaurateur. Kay owned and operated The Tempura House in Albuquerque, NM from 1990 to 2000. Family friends and patrons of The Tempura House praised Kay's sauce for years and encouraged her to bottle it. Kay finally took the leap and began bottling and selling her wing sauce in 2008.

Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce is packaged in 12 oz glass bottles. The bottles feature a distinct, Asian inspired label. The sauce is very dark, almost black in the bottle. It's quite thick and pours very slowly.

The recipe for Kay's all natural wing sauce is quite simple. Yashi blends familiar Asian ingredients like soy, chili and garlic to create a sauce that is very well balanced. While it shares some flavor characteristics with Teriyaki, Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce has an additional savory element.

I used Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce on smoked chicken wings. Out of the bottle, the sauce is incredibly thick. I tried to toss the wings in the sauce (along with other sauces), but its thickness made it difficult to coat the wings. However, heating the sauce slightly thinned it just enough for tossing the wings.

It's easy to see why Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce was such a hit at The Tempura House. The sweet and salty sauce is an excellent compliment to crispy chicken wings. It couldn't be more different than American Buffalo wing sauces. However, it's equally tasty. Using Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce can add Asian flare to nearly any dish. In addition to wings, the sauce works well as a grilling glaze for chicken and pork or a dip for meatballs.

If you enjoy the sweet and savory blends of Asian cuisine, Yashi Gourmet Wing Sauce is worth checking out. You can purchase your own directly from their website. Don't forget to see how the sauce rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

American Pride Foods (Round 2)

Alaskan meat and poultry distributor, American Pride Foods is already one of The "Q" Review's favorite sources for meat. In addition to beef and poultry, American Pride specializes in Alaskan raised game like buffalo, reindeer and caribou. I previously reviewed a few of their most popular products (See Review). I was really excited when they contacted me saying they were ready for round two.

This round features three unique products that I found even more intriguing than the first batch. American Pride Foods sent Buffalo Bratwurst, Caribou Sandwich Steaks and Bacon Wrapped Reindeer Medallions. As before, my meat was shipped overnight from Alaska to North Carolina and arrived frozen.

Bacon Wrapped Reindeer Medallions: The reindeer medallions are cut in round, four ounce portions. Each medallion is wrapped with a slice of bacon and vacuum sealed. The steaks are sold in packages of two. These steaks present beautifully on the grill and on the plate. They are great for gourmet dinners or family cookouts.

I grilled up both medallions for a weekday dinner treat. I simply seasoned the steaks with black pepper before they hit the hot grill. The salty, smokey bacon provided all the extra flavor that the medallions needed. Over high heat, the steaks hit medium in a matter of minutes.

These steaks are easily my new favorite product from American Pride. They were absolutely delicious. The meat was tender and flavorful, like prime beef. It wasn't gamey like the wild venison I'm used to eating. I enjoyed these medallions as much as any steak I've eaten in a long time.

Caribou Sandwich Steaks: These unique sandwich steaks are a blend of ground beef, pork and caribou. The meat mixture is seasoned and pre-cooked. They are vacuum sealed with eight steaks per pack. I thawed the sandwich steaks and grilled them for about three minutes per side. They browned up nicely and smelled delicious.

The steaks have a texture that is very similar to a flattened bratwurst. They're pressed meat rather than actual steak so their isn't any tearing. They're tender and juicy. The flavor is mild and savory. It falls somewhere between a steak and a sausage.

They are excellent on a sandwich or right off the grill. I dipped some of them in steak sauce and a variety of BBQ sauces. The only negative I could see was that they were a bit greasy. The pork was sure added to provide fat and flavor. That being said, they weren't any more greasy than a traditional grilled sausage.

Buffalo Bratwurst: These buffalo brats mix ground pork and beef with Alaskan buffalo meat. The brats are pre-cooked and sealed in 16 oz packages (5 links). Each link features a natural casing that provides a nice snap when you bite into it. The meat is really well seasoned with herbs and spices. They aren't super salty, but they pack plenty of flavor.

A couple minutes on a hot grill are all it takes to heat these links. They would be great for camping, cookouts or quick week night dinners. I have to say these mild brats were a very pleasant surprise. As with many of the American Pride products, they greatly exceeded my expectations. The flavor and texture were both excellent and I was impressed by their lack of grease. They seemed much leaner than the fresh brats I typically grill.

American Pride Foods has an extensive catalog of exotic meat products available. The three products above are just a small sample of what they have to offer. Be sure to check out their website. To see the star ratings for these products, check out our "Product Reviews" page.

Masterbuilt GS40 XL Propane Smoker (Review)

My regular readers are already aware that I recently purchased a Masterbuilt extra wide propane smoker from Bass Pro Shops. I posted an introduction a little over a week ago with an explanation as to how I decided to make the purchase. After using the smoker for a couple weeks and cooking several different meats, I feel I've got a pretty good handle on the cooker's strengths and weaknesses. Let's get into the review.

The smoker requires some assembly, but nothing too complicated. The legs, burner and accessories simply need to be mounted to the frame. With a good power screwdriver, assembly can be completed in 20-30 minutes. As with any smoker or grill, the interior should be "treated" or "seasoned". This involves cooking off harmful chemicals in the metal coating before filling it with food. I sprayed the interior (including the racks) with cooking spray and ran the smoker for several hours on high temperature

The main selling point for the Masterbuilt GS40 is that it has the largest cooking capacity of any smoker I could find in its price range ($179.99). The dimensions of the actual cooking chamber are 24 x 16 x 33. With four adjustable stainless steel racks, the GS40 accommodates up to 12 racks of ribs or 8 pork butts.

The racks easily slide in and out making it convenient to access food while it cooks. There are also mounted internal brackets allowing each rack's height to be adjusted. While not exceptional, the racks are adequate for just about any cooking task. They appear to be stout enough to last for quite some time.

The smoker also includes a water pan and chip pan. In reading several customer reviews, these two items were among the most highly criticized features of the unit. Both are cheaply made, but I don't see the need to replace them (yet) as many others said they had. Strangely, the chip pan has holes in it that allow the burner flames to come into direct contact with the chips. This typically ignites the chips making them burn quickly rather than smolder. To remedy the problem, I simply lined the chip pan with a few layers of heavy duty aluminum foil.

The GS40 uses a simple propane burner. It works great right now, but I do have some concerns about the burner's longevity. The burner's flame is easily adjustable using a simple knob. The smoker holds a constant temperature for several hours. Because it's not insulated, the internal temperature can be affected by outside weather conditions.

Unfortunately, I'm unable to gauge specific temperatures because the thermometer is pretty much junk. The seal on the gauge was broken when I opened the box. I inserted it anyway just to see how it would work. The needle on the dial jumps and fluctuates. Without an actual working thermometer, I just have to guess at the internal cooking temps.

Thus far, I've cooked spareribs, meat loaf, wings and chicken quarters. Whether smoking at low or high temperatures, the results have been stellar. I couldn't be happier with the ease of use and consistent quality of the food. It's no wonder BBQ purists see cooking with propane smokers as cheating. It's significantly easier to produce excellent smoked meats using a propane smoker than a charcoal / hardwood pit. It certainly takes some of the artistry out of cooking BBQ, but it's hard to knock the results. I've made my very best ribs using this smoker.

I have some quality and longevity concerns about the components of the GS40, but I'm pretty pleased with the smoker overall. The most important features to me are the large cooking capacity and consistent temperatures. For the price, I don't think I could have found anything else to better meet my needs. For someone looking for an easy to use home smoker, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Masterbuilt GS40.

Local Spotlight - BH43 BBQ Sauce

Image courtesy of the BH43 Facebook page
Though it has been my policy to only review commercially produced sauces, I love the idea of shining the spotlight on the smallest of operations. When I stumbled upon BH43 BBQ Sauce's Facebook page, I was intrigued. BH43 is a unique BBQ sauce produced and bottled by high school teacher and football coach, Bill Hall (Pittsboro, NC). Bill mixes up the sauce in small batches and fills each bottle by hand. Using basic word of mouth marketing, Bill's BH43 has become somewhat of a local legend. His sauce continues to earn acclaim in Pittsboro and throughout the surrounding area.

Being a huge Richard Petty fan, Bill combined The King's car number with his own initials to give his sauce a name. Bill describes himself as a weekend warrior, but his status is growing among his peers. Thanks to the growing popularity of BH43, Bill often spends weekends cooking at various events. Additionally, his sauce is now being used by a local caterer.

Bill contacted me recently and was kind enough to send me a bottle of his BH43. The sauce is brown and speckled with a LOT of pepper. It's a medium/thin sauce that pours quickly. The label says that BH43 is a ketchup and vinegar blend. The ketchup acts as a thickening agent and sweetener to what would otherwise be a very traditional Eastern North Carolina sauce.

Out of the bottle, the flavor is very tangy. The vinegar hits you immediately followed by a strong peppery finish. North Carolinians (particularly from the East) will appreciate the flavor combination, but Midwesterners beware! This sauce packs a punch.

I used the sauce to finish smoked chicken quarters. The ketchup makes the sauce just thick enough to brush on (and cling to) the meat. I brushed a couple of coats onto each piece of chicken and allowed it to cook into the skin. As with most sauces, the flavor mellowed a bit under the heat. Some of the bite was softened and the sugars became more prominent. The flavor profile transformed a great deal from its "out of the bottle" form.

For the time being, I've chosen not to give BH43 a star rating. I'll save that for when the sauce is commercially produced. However, I can say it's one of the tastiest Carolina style sauces I've encountered. If and when Bill decides to move his operation out of his own kitchen, I have no doubt that his sauce will be a hit with North Carolinians.  If you live in the area and haven't tried BH43, look it up on Facebook. Bill is making new batches almost weekly and would love to share his sauce with you.

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