Nephew's BBQ Peachy Potle

Nephew's BBQ Sauce (Garner, NC) makes some of the coolest alternative BBQ sauces you'll ever find. Their formula of pairing fruit with hot peppers has yielded some unique combos like Haban Orange, and Ghostly Pumpkin. Though the ingredients sometimes seem off the wall, Nephew's skillfully blends the flavors for sauces that stand out for all the right reasons.

I loved the daring combination of pumpkin and ghost peppers in their Ghostly Pumpkin sauce and have been looking forward to tasting their other flavors. I got the chance to use Nephew's Peachy Potle sauce recently and found another perfect marraige of sweet fruits and chilie peppers.

Peachy Potle is a relatively thin blend of tomatoes, vinegar and peaches. The sauce is packaged in 16 oz mason jars and pours very quickly. It's dark orange (almost brown) in color with finely ground spices that are barely visible.

The sauce smells sweet and smokey with the chipotle pepper being the most noticable element in the aroma. The flavor is sweet, smokey and very tangy. Their is a slight element of spice from the peppers, but it's mild. Out of the jar, the vinegar tang really stands out, but the mild peach sweetness takes over when the sauce is heated.

I used Peachy Potle on grilled chicken breasts, smoked chicken quarters and spare ribs. The sauce worked well on all three meats, but I thought it especially paired well the smokey pork ribs. I've always enjoyed peach as a complimentary flavor to pork. Though thin, the sauce still brushed well on the meat as a finishing sauce leaving a nice shine.

Peachy Potle is another winning combination from Nephew's BBQ. The sauce is at it's best when heated up and can be served on a variety of meats. If you're looking to break away from the norm and experiment with new flavors, Nephew's BBQ is a good place to start. Check out their website to see of their products.

Bar-B-Cutie (Marietta, OH)

Bar-B-Cutie is a Tennessee based chain that first opened in 1950. The McFarland family purchased the original Nashville Bar-B-Cutie in 1958 and have expanded the business into a franchise with 17 restaurants in the United States and Europe. The chain's bold tagline reads "The World's Best Barbecue Since 1950!"

We stopped at the Bar-B-Cutie in Marietta, OH on our return trip from Michigan. We pulled into the parking lot around 6:00 on Saturday evening. The parking lot was relatively empty which made me a bit apprehensive. The good "Q" joints in NC are usually packed to the max during dinner time, especially on the weekends.

Bar-B-Cutie is set up like a typical fast food joint. Orders can be placed at the counter in the front of the store. Katie and I placed our orders and took a number to our table. Our food was delivered promptly.

I ordered the Bar-B-Cutie Sampler ($9.99) that consisted of pulled pork, sliced brisket and babyback ribs. The platter also included one side (okra) and Texas toast. For the price tag, the serving size was pretty solid. The brisket portion, in particular, was substantial.

Though I was happy with the size of the platter, I immediately noticed that something was missing....a smoke ring. All three meats were a slightly unappetizing gray color. None of them possessed the tell tale pink ring that makes authentic BBQ easy to spot. I was slightly disappointed, but not surprised. When we'd first arrived in the parking lot, it was pretty apparent that no meat was being smoked on the premisis.
The ribs (2 bones) were tender and fairly moist. They were sauced with Bar-B-Cutie's "Sweet" sauce. The ribs were well cooked, but had very little flavor aside from the sauce. The brisket, too, was cooked just about right. It was lean, but tender and sliced to the appropriate thickness. Sadly, it also lacked flavor. The pulled pork was moist and shredded easily, but tasted as if it hadn't been seasoned at all.

Bar-B-Cutie features four house sauces; Mild, Sweet, Hot and Carolina (Mustard). Each sauce was adequate, but none of them stood out. I did, however, use quite a bit of the sweet sauce to give the meat some much needed flavor.

The food at Bar-B-Cutie was very mediocre. I can't say that they match their claim of "World's Best Barbecue". What I ate wasn't "Q" at all. As an alternative to a fast food burger, a Bar-B-Cutie sandwhich would be suitable. However, if you're looking for authentic smoked BBQ, you'd better look elsewhere.

Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse Honey Mesquite BBQ Sauce

Though known throughout Texas for their slow smoked meats, Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse also produces a fine line of sauces and seasonings to compliment their BBQ. Their products are rooted in Texas tradition, but display a bit of creativity with mixing flavors as well. Meyer's Honey Mesquite Barbecue Sauce is a prime example of tinkering with a tried and true Texas recipe to yield a unique flavor.

Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse's Honey Mesquite starts with their original Barbecue Sauce recipe and adds real honey and natural mesquite smoke giving the sauce a great deal more depth and complexity. Like the original, Honey Mesquite is burnt orange (almost red) and on the thinner side. It too is packaged in 19 oz. glass bottles.

The sauce has a ketchup base and the ketchup flavor really stands out initially. It also has a fair amount of coarsely ground black pepper that breaks up the sweet and salty elements. The honey accent is noticeable if you're looking for it, but it's very slight. The mesquite flavor, however, comes across loud and clear in the sauce's finish.

I used Honey Mesquite on pork spare ribs for our Father's Day BBQ. I would characterize it as a mild sauce making it a safe choice for a wide range of people. The sauce may be a little thin to be an ideal rib glaze, but it stuck to the meat adequately enough. The smooth texture and bright color also made the ribs look pretty appetizing. It didn't quite give the bones that high gloss shine that I typically shoot for, but they still made a good backyard presentation. I've since use the sauce on left-over pulled pork and brisket. It works well when heated and poured over the meat. It's just the right texture for drizzling over a pulled pork sandwich.

Meyer's Honey Mequite is a safe, versatile sauce with a mild flavor profile that most people will find appealing. The medium / thin texture allows the sauce to be used for nearly any application. However, I find it best served on top of pork. See how the sauce rates on our "Product Reviews" page and be sure to check out Meyer's website to see their entire product lineup.

Mrs. Griffin's Barbecue Sauce

Few BBQ sauces can claim the longevity of Mrs. Griffin's Southern Barbecue Sauce. This tangy Georgia staple has been in production since 1935. What started as a treat served during Griffin family gatherings, has grown into one of the most recognizable regional BBQ products in the Southeastern United States.

Macon Native, Mangham Edward Griffin started bottling and selling his mustard / vinegar sauce at the urging of his family. After the first batch sold out of his brother's grocery store in a heartbeat, Mr. Griffin realized he had stumbled upon a new profession. Naming the sauce in honor of his wife, he produced it in his own kitchen for years until finally opening a full scale production plant in 1949.

Mrs. Griffin's has grown a great deal over the years. Though still a regional favorite, Mrs. Griffin's can now be found in major retailers all over the country. While the original sauce remains unchanged, they have added "Hot" and "Hickory Smoke" flavors.

Mrs. Griffin's recently reached out to The "Q" Review to have their Original and Hickory Smoked sauces reviewed. Having never tasted Mrs. Griffin's before, I was happy to oblige. I was familiar with the brand, having seen it in grocery stores from time to time. Since the two sauces have such similar recipes, I decided to test them in tandem. Each time I used the Original flavor, I also used the Hickory Smoked sauce.

Both sauces are available in 12 oz, 32 oz., and Gallon plastic bottles. Mrs. Griffin's signature red labels are very simple, but appealing. The classic styling takes you back to the sauce's origins.

Though a product of Georgia, Mrs. Griffins displays the characteristics of sauces typically found in the low country of South Carolina. Mrs. Griffin's is an ultra tangy mustard / vinegar blend accented with a variety of spices. The Hickory Smoked flavor sticks with the original base and adds liquid smoke for an additional dimension of flavor.

One very unique thing about Mrs. Griffin's sauce is that the ingredients are not cooked. According to Mrs. Griffin's website, the ingredients are mixed in a twelve step process that actually takes four days. The mixing process has a lot to do with why the sauce is so tangy. Heat typically mellows things like tang and spice.

I used both sauces on multiple occasions. First, I used the sauce as a dip for pulled smoked chicken. As a dip, the sauce's flavors are very strong. The mustard and vinegar overwhelmed the mildly smoked chicken. Later, I brushed the sauce on chicken quarters as they finished smoking. The heat mellowed the sauces a bit, but the mustard flavor was still quite strong. Because the sauce is so thin, it's not ideal for glazing.

I've mentioned many times on The "Q" Review that mustard isn't my favorite base ingredient for BBQ sauce. That being said, I always try to keep an open mind when sampling and reviewing sauces. I've had several mustard base sauces that were very good. Often, mustard sauces are accented with sweet and spicy elements giving them additional depth. Mrs. Griffin's, however, is pure mustard tang. I respect the sauce for staying true to its regional roots, but it's difficult for me to see the sauce appealing to palates outside of the Southeast.

Cattleboyz Smokey Southwest and Big Country Garlic Seasonings

Cattleboyz products were created by Canadian ranchers that were looking for sauces and seasonings to compliment their family's beef. The venture started with one signature sauce and has expanded to a full product line featuring dozens of sauces and seasonings. Cattleboyz products are now sold all over North America.

I reviewed Cattleboyz Original BBQ Sauce and Gourmet Seasoning a few months back. Recently, I started using two other Cattleboyz seasonings, Smokey Southwest and Big Country Garlic. Both products are packaged in large, 14 oz. plastic shakers.

Smokey Southwest Seasoning and rub is a versatile product that I've used for several different applications. The aroma and flavor profile both exemplify the product's Smokey Southwest moniker. The blend is heavy on ground chilies and earthy spices like paprika, garlic and onion. Though it's a savory product, it still contains sugar and only a moderate amount of salt.

I used Smokey Southwest as a rub for smoked chicken. Though the resulting flavor was very different than the sweet rubs that I typically use, it still provided the poultry with a bold, but pleasant taste that penetrated the meat pretty well. Cattleboyz Smokey Southwest also works well with grilled or sauteed vegetables. I've been using the product to season both my meats and vegetables when making grilled fajitas. The product can also be substituted for packaged taco seasoning Since the salt content isn't extreme, you can use the product liberally on ground beef or pork to get maximum flavor from your taco meat.

Cattleboyz Big Country Garlic Seasoning is definitely an "all purpose" product. It's a fairly simple sugar, garlic, salt mixture that can be used on just about anything. I've been using the product in place of regular table salt and have yet to find a savory dish that Big Country didn't work for.

Of course, the dominant flavor is garlic. However, that doesn't limit the seasoning to ethnic cooking. Beef, chicken, pork, seafood and vegetables can all benefit from the addition of garlic. Even popcorn "pops" a little more when you add Big Country instead of regular salt. The seasoning seemed to be an especially good compliment to steaks and seafood. Cattleboyz also recommend using the seasoning on homemade garlic toast.

Cattleboyz seasonings are fairly straight forward blends that are handy to have around the kitchen. They use classic spice combinations with common ingredients making their seasonings versatile and easy to apply.

Texas Pete Twin City Ribfest 2012

Winston Salem's Twin City Ribfest (sponsored by Texas Pete) is one of my favorite events of the summer. Katie and I have attended the festival each of the last four years. The annual event draws competitors and patrons from all over the region making it one of North Carolina's top BBQ attractions.

This year the festival returned to the city's center at the corner of Fifth St. and Marshall St. after being held at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds for the last few years. The festival's return to downtown had residents excited, but it also posed a few challenges. First, while the fairgrounds offered an enormous parking lot, the new location forces patrons to scavenge for street parking and open lots. The downtown location is also much more limited in overall space. While the spacious fairgrounds allowed plenty of room to roam, this year's spot packed vendors, attractions and patrons pretty tightly.

While Ribfest is a party for everyone involved, we can't forget that it's also a competition with serious bragging rights at stake. The 2012 competition features six competitive teams / vendors from as far north as Ohio and as far south as Arkansas. All six teams are returning competitors and have won numerous awards all over the country.

Each competition team at Ribfest also acts as a vendor serving up all kinds of BBQ and sides for the hungry masses that attend the four day festival. As much as I look forward to the live music and dozens of local vending tents, it's the opportunity to sample the "Q" that draws me to Ribfest each year.  This year I chose to order rib samplers from the two competitors that I didn't try a year ago, Texas Outlaws and Porky Chicks. I also stopped by the vending station of local favorite, Bib's Downtown to check out the ribs they were serving up. Below is a breakdown from each vendor.

Texas Outlaws: Despite their name, this BBQ team hails from Elizabethtown, KY. The crew serving up ribs and "Q" for the Texas Outlaws was friendly and efficient. They were doing their best to sell patrons on the quality of their food. They promised top quality ribs and they didn't disappoint. The Texas Outlaw ribs were as good as any ribs that I've had during my many trips to Ribfest. They were big, meaty spareribs that were cooked just right. The meat was tender, juicy and well seasoned. Texas Outlaws went a little heavy on the sauce, but it didn't over power the tasty meat.

Porky Chicks BBQ: This Fayetteville, AK team was making its second visit to Twin City Ribfest. I missed out on their ribs last year and was happy to see them return. Porky Chicks served up a very good plate of ribs as well. Their ribs were served dry with a choice of sauces available to be added. The rub was mild and formed a nice crust on the outside of the rib. The meat was just slightly dry, but perfectly tender. The sweet, mild sauce was excellent as well. I made sure to mop up every drop with my roll.

Bib's Downtown: Bib's is the local favorite of the competition. The downtown location is especially convenient for Bib's. The festival is just a short walk away from their restaurant. I've visited Bib's Downtown numerous times. In my opinion, it's one of the very best "Q" joints in North Carolina. However, since it's so close to home, I typically forgo the Bib's tent at Ribfest in favor of vendors that I can't visit so easily. This year, however, I decided to make a stop at Bib's to try their ribs and get a taste of their new apple BBQ sauce. I picked up a sampler and drizzled the newly debuted sauce generously over each bone.

I've ordered ribs in their restaurant several times and always enjoyed them. The flavor of this particular set of ribs was very good, but they were a little tough. Compared to the other vendors, these ribs were pretty light on meat. Also, they had a little more char on the outside than I like. Overall, I'd say they were good ribs, but not quite as good as I'm used to getting at their restaurant.(Sorry, no picture of Bib's ribs)

Regardless of whether the Texas Pete Twin City Ribfest remains downtown or returns to the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds, it will always be an event that Katie and I look forward to. We never miss the festival and it never disappoints. If you can't make it out this weekend, be sure to mark your calender for Ribfest next June.

Glenn's Gourmet Goodies Wasabi

Glenn of Glenn's Gourmet Goodies sent me a trio of his white BBQ sauces. Glenn's sauces are unique to BBQ world in that they start with an oil and vinegar base. This inventive combination of ingredients yields a one of kind flavor and color. I reviewed the Glenn's Chipotle flavor a few weeks ago and have now moved on to Wasabi.

Like the Chipotle sauce, Wasabi is packaged in half liter (16.9 oz)  plastic bottles. GGG Foods' Wasabi sauce is medium / thick and opaque white with large flakes of black pepper. The sauce pours quick and smooth.

Wasabi sauce adds natural wasabi powder to the sauce's simple base ingredients. Glenn recommends his Wasabi sauce for everything from grilled fish to roast beef sandwiches. The sauce's flavor has a great deal of versatility. Wasabi naturally compliments seafood and vegetables. Since the flavor is so similar to horseradish, it also goes great with beef.

I've used Glenn's Wasabi sauce as a glaze for grilled and baked salmon as well as a condiment for burgers. I really love the added spice that the wasabi gives to burgers. When used as a mayo substitute, the sauce really takes burgers to a whole new level.

As good as the sauce was on burgers, I felt it truly excelled on the salmon. I've tried dozens of sauces and flavor combinations on salmon, but none of them has been as good as Glenn's Gourmet Goodies Wasabi sauce. Whether grilled or baked, the wasabi sauce has made salmon a weekly staple in our diet.

Glenn's Wasabi sauce has become a favorite in my home. My wife can't get enough of it. We use it on everything. It's the type of sauce that's become a must for our pantry. Check out Glenn's Gourmet Goodies online and see how the Wasabi sauce rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Mrs Renfro's Mango Habanero Salsa

These days you can find all kinds of unique ingredients in jarred salsas. It's no longer just tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Creative companies are now adding sweet fruit and a wide variety of peppers resulting in exciting new flavor combinations.

One of the leaders in the alternative salsa market is Mrs.. Renfro's. With 18 different gourmet salsas, few companies can match Mrs. Renfro's variety. Mrs. Renfro's lineup spans from the traditional to the exotic.

I've sampled a few of Mrs. Renfro's salsas, including Mango Habanero. The combination of tropical mangoes and habanero peppers is pretty trendy right now in the sauce / salsa world. The sweet, mild mangoes act as a perfect foil for the scorching heat of the habaneros.

Mrs. Renfro's Mango Habanero starts with a tomato base and adds both mango puree and chunks. The salsa is also sweetened with brown sugar and pineapple juice. The sweetness is contrasted with both jalapeno and habanero peppers.

The salsa is a little sweet for my tastes. I think the sweetness limits its uses a bit. I could see it being a good compliment to grilled fish tacos, but it really doesn't work well with ground beef tacos/nachos. The heat level is also pretty substantial. It was a bit too hot for me to use as a dip with chips.

Mrs. Renfro's Mango Habanero is not a bad salsa. For those who enjoy sweet fruit salsas, it could be a good choice. It just doesn't seem to find the same balance of sweet, savory and spicy elements that Mrs. Renfro's Peach Salsa.

To check out Mrs. Renfro's entire lineup of salsas, take a look at their website. See how Mango Habanero Salsa rates on our "Product Reviews" page.

Bill's Best Spicy Organic BBQ Sauce

There is a LOT to like about Bill's Best BBQ Sauces. First, there is the Fehon family's dedication to sharing the proceeds from their sauce sales with the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration. Second, Bill's Best has the rare distinction of being certified organic. Finally, they simply make tasty sauces.

I reviewed Bill's Best Original BBQ Sauce several months ago. The thick, Kansas City style sauce received a solid score and is the only organic BBQ sauce to be featured on The "Q" Review....until now. Recently, Jason Fehon informed me that their long awaited "Spicy" sauce was in production and available for purchase. He was also kind enough to send a couple of samples for review and sponsor our second Bill's Best BBQ giveaway.

Before my samples arrived, I scoped out a sneak peak of the new Spicy labels. It was obvious that the Fehon family had hit another home run with their packaging. The new labels remained true to the original Bill's Best theme with classic earthy colors and vintage family photos. Using an embellished flaming text swapping out the main image, Spicy still manages to stand out from it's original counterpart.

Like the original recipe, Bill's Best Spicy is thick tomato base that fits squarely in the Kansas City style classification. The sauce is moderately sweet thanks to organic sugar and molasses. It also features a noticeable vinegar tang and natural smoke flavor. The overall flavor is very familiar for those used to classic Midwestern sauces, but Bill's Best strikes a much better balance than most.

I'm glad that the Fehons decided on "Spicy" rather than "Hot" when naming their sauce. Out of the bottle, the sauce has a strong spicy bite, but it's not overwhelming. Thanks to organic cayenne and habanero peppers, Bill's Best Spicy has the heat that quickly grabs your throat, but lets go shortly after without any lingering effects.

I used the sauce as a finishing glaze for grilled and smoked chicken. The flavor is really elevated when the sauce is heated. It becomes rich and deep while the spice factor mellows a great deal. The thick sauce worked really well as a finishing glaze. Not only did it enhance the flavor of the chicken, it gave the meat great color and a beautiful gloss.

Bill's Best Spicy Organic BBQ Sauce it a top notch sauce that balances taste and heat. The organic factor makes Bill's Best even more appealing. To learn more about Bill's Best Sauces, check out their website and read their story. You can also purchase the sauce online. Don't forget to see Bill's Best Spicy's rating on our "Product Reviews" page.

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