Willie's Hog Wash

Willie's Hog Dust is a South Carolina based company founded in 2009. Like most BBQ start ups, Willie began cooking regularly at home and experimenting with his own flavor combinations. Years of testing led him to develop his Hog Dust rubs formulated primarily for pork and chicken.

To compliment his rubs, Willie also developed a tangy sauce that blends the various tomato, mustard and vinegar sauces found South Carolina. Willie's Hog Wash is unique in that it really can't be categorized as either a tomato, mustard or vinegar sauce. It's truly a blend of all three.

Hog Wash is dark red in the bottle. The sauce is on the thin side, but not nearly as thin as traditional Carolina vinegar sauces. Coarsely ground dark spices can be seen scattered throughout the sauce. It pours quickly as the bottle has a wide open mouth.

While Hog Wash evokes many of the flavor attributes that I became accustomed to while living in the Carolinas, it definitely deviates from tradition. Thanks to ketchup and additional sugar, the sauce has a sweeter profile than standard vinegar sauces. That's just fine with me. I love using sweet ingredients to balance the vinegar tang. The sauce also finishes with just a touch of heat thanks to the inclusion of cayenne pepper sauce.

Anytime a sauce with Carolina roots comes my way, I'm compelled to use it on smokey pulled/chopped pork. I poured an entire bottle of hog wash over a large mound of hickory smoked pork shoulder that I cooked for the holiday weekend.

Willie's website suggests a variety of uses for the sauce, but I can't think of better use than pairing it with smoked pork. The thin sauce covers and penetrates the meat perfectly. The tangy flavor is a natural compliment (enhancer?) to the mild, smokey pork. It's probably thick enough to use as a finishing sauce for ribs and chicken, but it's tailor made for pourin' or dippin'.

I've tried my share of sauces from the Carolinas. Willie's Hog Wash is the real deal. It belongs right along side of other top shelf vinegar blends. It's sure to please Carolina traditionalists and maybe even convert a few Yankees.

Willie's Hog Wash and other products can be purchased here.

Rating: (4/5)

Nando's Peri Peri Sauce

Man has been turning chili peppers into spicy condiments for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Nearly every culture on every continent has found a way to incorporate hot peppers into their diets. The African bird's eye chili or "peri peri" has a particularly robust history. This well traveled pepper is featured in African, South American and European cuisine. Thanks to companies like Nando's, peri peri is also catching on in the United States.

Nando's is a thriving franchise with restaurants all over the world. In the United States, Nando's can be found in and around Washington DC. Nando's specializes in the traditional Portuguese method of using peri peri peppers. After all, it was the Portuguese who were credited with"discovering" the pepper. Nando's combines the peri peri peppers with garlic and lemon juice to create a savory, spicy sauce. The sauce is then used as both a marinade and finishing sauce for chicken grilled over an open flame.

While I haven't been able to visit a Nando's restaurant, I did get the opportunity to sample their peri peri sauce. Nando's sells their thin, orange sauce in 1.4 oz (40 gram) glass bottles. It comes in a variety of heat levels and flavor variations.

I wanted to stay true to the Nando's style of cooking when testing their sauce. However, I received the samples in the midst of a record breaking Michigan winter. My grill was buried under two feet of snow making open flame cooking impossible. As a result, I had to make due with my oven's broiler.

I was cooking four medium-large chicken breasts for my family. The bottle didn't appear to be large enough to both marinade and finish the chicken so I skipped the marinading. I dusted the chicken simply with seasoned salt and pepper and slid it under the searing broiler. Finally, I brushed the sauce on heavily just before the chicken finished cooking.

Since I was cooking for my family, I started with the medium sauce. It's a good thing I did. Nando's medium peri peri sauce packed quite a punch. The sauce was tangy and the garlic was evident. As I mentioned, the burn was more than I anticipated.

The sauce's low sugar content makes it perfect for high heat cooking. The chicken didn't char as it would have with a high sugar (BBQ) sauce. Though it's thin, it still manages to cling to the meat. It also colors the surface nicely.

Though I'm new to Nando's, this wasn't my first experience with peri peri. I really enjoy the unique sizzle provided by this sauce. It's unlike the cayenne / tabasco / jalapeno sauces that are typically featured in North America. Nando's take on the sauce is simple and delicious.

More information about Nando's and the peri peri pepper can found here.

Rating: (3.5/5)

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