As with any large grocery store, HEB, a chain indigenous to the South Texas area, features its own line of competitively-priced products bearing the retailer’s name. Your mileage may vary in terms of the average store brand’s quality, but I’ve become quite the fan of most of HEB’s products. Often, they are indistinguishable from the bigger brands’ items, and occasionally I find something that permanently supplants a long-beloved item from a major company. That said, today’s review covers a salsa-ish item from HEB, peculiarly (though aptly) named That Green Sauce.
Jalapenos, Water, Poblano Peppers, Green Tomatoes, Light Sour Cream (Grade A cultured cream, Skim milk, Vitamin A palmitate), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Chicken Base (Oven roasted chicken meat with natural chicken juices, Corn starch, Rendered chicken fat, Yeast extract, Natural flavoring, Onion powder, Rice flour, Maltodextrin, Turmeric powder), Salt, Natural Flavor (Water, Hydrolyzed yeast, Natural flavor, Lactic acid), Lime Concentrate, Xanthan gum
If I could insert a whistle sound into this review, I would do so, because that’s quite the long list of ingredients. It’s not quite the longest list I’ve diligently typed, but it’s still a great indicator that not everything is simple in the world of That Green Sauce. The jar assures me, though, that this product is natural (and gluten free, for those who may be wondering).
It’s green, I guess. Granted, it’s not terribly green. When I think of green, I think of a shade more like jalapenos. Despite the fact that jalapenos are this product’s first ingredient, though, the color winds up being a lot more like a cross between a sickly tomatillo sauce and pea soup. Speaking of soup, it’s also a surprisingly thin sauce. I can’t help wondering exactly how soupy it would be if it didn’t have the thickening power of the Xanthan Gum. At any rate, I’ll go on record as saying it’s not the most appetizing-looking product on the market.
Smell and Taste:
Thankfully, That Green Sauce fares markedly better in the olfactory department than it does in the visual. Honestly, this stuff smells great. I used the word “salsa-ish” (the proper term, I believe, is “salsita”) in the introduction to this review, and I did so precisely because the contents of this jar smell like an enticing combination of jalapenos and tomatoes. The poblano is in there as well, as is a slight chicken broth scent (like you get when you’ve cooked with broth), but I don’t really smell the dairy products. It also tastes somewhat like a salsa, though it completely lacks the chunky texture of its cousin. (On an interesting side note, salsa typically has a notably low calories from fat count. However, 80% of this product’s calories come from fat!)
I’m honestly quite surprised by the heat this jar packs. Despite the fact that its main pepper ingredient is the lowly (but trusty!) jalapeno, I’m going to give it a Mean rating. It’s nowhere near the upper end of our scale, but I don’t think scoring it any lower is appropriate, as I don’t want anyone to be caught off guard by such an unassuming product. Let this be a lesson to us all, then, that hotter peppers don’t always make hotter sauces. In terms of flavor, it’s a Nice. Though it doesn’t absolutely knock my socks off, it is also far, far better than it looks like it should be. I could see myself eating this on a lot more than plain tortilla chips.
This being a South Texas product, the label suggests pouring it on tacos, eggs, or fajitas. Those are the obvious options, but I agree completely. That Green Sauce is practically begging to be dumped all over a chorizo and egg taco. Otherwise, might I suggest the venerable tamale? I can assure you that this product has no problems passing my Tamale Test. The flavor profile definitely lends itself to Mexican-style fare, but go ahead and experiment. I, for one, will likely continue to buy more traditional sauces, but I don’t mind saving a space in my refrigerator for this little green jar.