Bullheads "It's a Boy!" and "It's a Girl!" Beef Sticks

Beef sticks and jerky snacks can be found in gas stations and grocery stores all over the country. These salty, savory treats have been favorites among campers and travellers for years. Thanks to some creative thinking, Bullheads (Sandusky, OH) has come up with a new purpose for beef sticks.

Bullheads' "It's a Boy" and "It's a Girl" beef sticks are a new twist on the traditional gift of cigars. These honey smoked sticks are individually packaged in .65 oz portions. Each stick is labeled with pink or blue lettering.

Bullhead Beef Sticks are infused with honey for a sweet initial flavor. They have a salty, savory finish. The sticks are soft and moist without a ton of chew. The salt content is right on par with other popular meat snack brands.

While the beef sticks are fine on their own, there is no doubt that Bullhead's baby gimmick is what really makes these a special product. Giving Bullheads in lieu of cigars is a creative, economical way to celebrate a new edition. If you've got a bunch of meat lovin buddies, it's a good route to take.

To order your own, check out their website.

Nephew's Ghostly Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

Today's BBQ sauce market is so large and diverse, it can be difficult to stand out in the crowd. Fortunately for Nephew's BBQ Sauce, standing out has never been a problem. Nephew's entire line of gourmet sauces feature unique blends of sweet fruits with spicy chili peppers. Signature flavors like Ghostly Pumpkin, Peachy Potle and Haban' Orange have quickly made Nephew's BBQ sauce a North Carolina favorite.

I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Abrams, owner and creator of Nephew's BBQ Sauce, at the Capital Cook Off in Lexington, NC. Paul was equally gracious and enthusiastic. Despite being busy putting the finishing touches on his competition ribs and chicken, Paul still took time to talk with Katie and I about his sauces. Better still, he also provided products for review.

After getting a solid endorsement from fellow BBQ blogger, Wayne Brown, I was excited to give Nephew's BBQ Sauces a try. As cool as all the Nephew's flavors looked, Ghostly Pumpkin piqued my interest the most. It looked so good that I cracked the seal on 16 oz mason jar the very next day.

The rich aroma was like a tangy, smokey pumpkin pie. The burnt orange sauce is thick and blends real pumpkin with ketchup, spices and jolokia (ghost) peppers. Though the pumpkin dominates the aroma, it moves into a supporting role in the flavor. The initial flavor is familiar with both sweet and smokey elements. Nephew's Ghostly Pumpkin finishes with smooth pumpkin and touch of heat.

The spice level is pretty tame considering the inclusion of ghost peppers. The pumpkin actually seems to mellow the heat and marries surprisingly well with the chili peppers. There was just enough spice to remind me that the peppers were present, but not enough to scare anyone away.

I used Nephew's Ghostly Pumpkin on a few different occasions. I first used it to finish chicken quarters. The thick sauce clung nicely to the chicken's skin. It also gave it great color. Chicken turned out to be my favorite meat to pair with Ghostly Pumpkin. Whether used as a dip or a grilling glaze, it gave all kinds of flavor to the poultry. It also has me thinking that it will be a great sauce to pair with a smoked turkey during the holidays.

After having great success with chicken, I used the remainder of the jar on a rack of St. Louis style ribs. Once again, the flavors from the sauce were very good with the smoked pork. It was reminiscent of a sweet and smokey holiday ham. The only problem I had with Ghostly Pumpkin on the ribs was the presentation. The inclusion of so much real pumpkin prevents the sauce from having that high gloss finish that makes sauced ribs look so appealing.

Ghostly Pumpkin is a bold and creative sauce with big flavor and lots of character. Trying to market such a unique flavor takes courage and creativity. However, after meeting Paul, I would expect nothing less. Nephew's pitches Ghostly Pumpkin as a seasonal sauce, but it's just too good to only use in the fall.

To learn more about Nephew's BBQ Sauce, check out their website. They're also on Facebook. Drop Paul a line and tell him The "Q" Review sent you. Don't forget to see how Ghostly Pumpkin rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Pigchaser Bacon BBQ Sauce

Let's face it, bacon is the holy grail of flavor. It's smokey, savory, salty and darn near perfect. It's hearty enough to be the main event and yet compliments nearly any savory dish when mixed in or sprinkled on top. Cooks have been looking for creative ways to incorporate bacon into their favorite dishes for years. Naturally, when the Pigchaser made his plans for bacon, it ended up in a BBQ sauce.

Pigchaser Bacon BBQ Sauce is the real deal. Unlike some products promising bacon flavor, Pigchaser's thick, red sauce is loaded with real bits of bacon. Pigchaser skipped the chemical compounds that many products rely on for "bacon like" flavor. As with all his sauces, he stuck to real, all natural ingredients to create a sauce he can be proud of.

This sauce is a thick honey, tomato base. The sweetness is typical of what I've come to expect from sauces produced in the Midwest. What's not typical is the fact that Pigchaser is HFCS free. Natural sweeteners like honey, brown sugar, pineapple juice and maple syrup provide Pigchaser Bacon BBQ Sauce with a multi-dimensional sweetness that I really enjoy.

The bacon impacts the sauce on two levels. First, the chunks of bacon break up the smooth, glossy texture. The bacon content is substantial enough to feel on your tongue and in your teeth. The other thing that the bacon brings to party is a salty contrasting flavor element. All those sweet ingredients are begging for a salty compliment and bacon fits the bill.

I thoroughly put this sauce to the test and enjoyed it every time. I first brushed the sauce on free range, Shelton Poultry chicken quarters as they finished smoking. The bright red sauce made a fantastic glaze. Both the flavor and appearance were excellent for smoked chicken. After enjoying the sauce on chicken, I had to pair it with pork. I brushed Pigchaser Bacon BBQ Sauce on rib tips this weekend. Once again, the sauce was superb. It really presented well on the pork. The sweet sauce complimented the smokey pork very well.

The sauce also worked well as both a dip and burger condiment. It's a great BBQ dipping sauce for fried chicken strips. It's also a fine sweet alternative to ketchup on grilled burgers. As the Pigchaser says on his labels, it's "not just for pork."

Many products have used and marketed bacon flavor as a gimmick. Pigchaser goes the extra mile to produce a sauce that is elevated above "novelty" status. Pigchaser Bacon BBQ Sauce is a quality sauce with all natural ingredients. It's unique enough to generate interest at your next cookout and delicious enough for daily use.

To purchase your own Pigchaser BBQ Sauces, check out their website. See how Pigchaser Bacon BBQ Sauce rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Weber's Smoke - A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill

Weber's newest cookbook, Smoke; A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill, hit bookstores in April. Weber-Stephens was kind enough to give The "Q" Review a copy upon it's release. With the wealth of BBQ knowledge available on the Internet, I don't spend a lot of time with cookbooks. However, the Weber name still carries a great deal of weight in the BBQ world and I'm grateful for this opportunity.

Smoke was written by respected chef and author, Jamie Purviance. Chef Purviance has collaborated with Weber-Stephens on numerous grilling cookbooks including the best sellers Art of the Grill and Weber's Big Book of Grilling. With Smoke, Chef Purviance aims to take the mystery out of cooking with smoke "for Everyone and Any Grill."

Smoke opens with a complete rundown of common styles of grills and smokers. Chef Purviance gives solid tips (with illustrations) for getting real smoke out of nearly any outdoor cooker. There are also useful suggestions for novice smokers regarding equipment and pantry essentials.

One section, in particular, that I found especially useful was a chart for pairing hardwoods with specific dishes. This information is invaluable for beginners. It's a subject that I'm asked about as much as any other. Pairing the right wood with the correct food can make all the difference. Smoke does a nice job of describing the smoke flavor/aroma produced by each wood and which foods the best compliment.

The recipes are categorized by meat type and range from direct grilling to low and slow smoking. There are even a few vegetarian recipes. In my opinion, the very best part of Smoke is Tim Turner's photography. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful, saliva inducing picture. In terms of difficulty, I would classify most of the recipes as intermediate. The directions are clearly written and easy to follow. The pictures also provide something to shoot in regard to presentation.

Many of the recipes include homemade rubs and sauces to be paired with the meat. In many cases, commercially produced rubs and sauces can be substituted. The emphasis in Smoke is clearly on the equipment and technique.

Some of the recipes like "Three-Meat Meatloaf'' (pg. 53) are nearly identical to my own. Others, like "Championship Spareribs" (pg. 103) differ a great deal from techniques that I typically employ. Each recipe specifies the ideal grill/smoker for the particular dish. However, they're also adaptable to fit whatever backyard cooker you own. I've done test runs on a couple of Chef Purviance's recipes with solid results. I've also marked several others for test runs this summer.

Weber-Stephens and Chef Jamie Purviance have created an excellent guide for beginners and intermediate backyard cookers. Smoke contains no groundbreaking secrets, but it does provide a wealth of techniques and recipes complimented by outstanding photography. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as a gift for aspiring BBQ pit masters.

Smoke is available at top retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

SuckleBusters Texas Heat Chipotle Pepper Sauce

With the state's strong Hispanic influence, the chili pepper has become a staple food in Texas. Therefore, it's only natural to look toward Texas for top quality hot sauces. Some of my absolute favorites, SuckleBuster's included, are produced in the Lonestar state.

SuckleBuster's Texas Heat pepper sauces are natural pepper and vinegar blends. I reviewed Texas Heat Original a few months back and recently had the chance to check out their Chipotle Pepper Sauce. Chipotle is SuckleBuster's most popular pepper sauce and one of its most decorated.

"Chipotle" is a thick pepper and vinegar sauce accented with chipotle powder and mustard. The flavors are bold with a good amount of tang and smokey spice. I would characterize the heat level as medium-hot. It's the type of sauce that only requires a few drops to spice up any savory dish.

The depth of flavor from SuckleBuster's Texas Heat line goes significantly beyond the typical Louisiana style pepper sauce. The mustard and complimentary spices provide a unique profile. The mustard is noticeable, especially in the sauce's aroma.

Texas Heat Chipotle Pepper Sauce is another exceptional, top shelf product from an outstanding company. SuckleBuster's produces a wide range of award winning products from BBQ rubs to salsas.
Learn more about the entire SuckleBuster's line on their website. See how Texas Heat Chipotle rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

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