Saucy Mama – Sante Fe Creamy Chipotle Dressing
Looks like today I get the chance to take a run at a product more in line with the foodie style of life than the chilehead style. There is still representation from chiles, with this being laced with chipotle chiles, but one can tell by the labeling style that this is aimed more at a mainstream audience focused on flavor that may have just been introduced to spicy eating or those that like just a little heat. I’m not expecting to be blown away today in the heat department, so I’ll be looking at decent representation from the chiles in flavor, and overall balance of taste with the chiles. Just from a visual inspection on the outside of the bottle, this looks somewhat like a creamy caesar style of dressing, and is described on the label as “The perfect topper for your favorite Southwest or Tex/Mex salads, veggies and fish tacos. Thanks a lot Saucy Mama… now I can’t get fish tacos out of my mind. I guess I know what I’m having for dinner tonight.
The list of ingredients here isn’t the short and simple style I tend to hope for, partly because I have to type every word on the bottle, but also because it means the brand has allowed a person doing food engineering that decided it would be fun to tweak all sorts of things about the product, which invariably means it’s a more processed food. That being said, here’s the list of what we’re working with: Canola Oil, White Distilled Vinegar, Water, Sugar, Egg Yolk, Salt, Maltodextrin, Natural Cream Flavor, Natural Buttermilk Flavor, Buttermilk, Whey, Dehydrated Onion, Tomato Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Natural Flavors, Oregano, Chipotle Powder, Corn Starch, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Spices, Xanthan Gum, Modified Gum Acacia, Black Pepper, Parsley, Citric Acid, Cellulose Gum, Milk Protein and Guar Gum. Chipotle seems to be pretty far down the list. I hope I can taste it over the Maltodextrin and “Natural Cream Flavor.”
True to my presumption about this looking like a creamy Caesar sauce, it has a fairly similar consistency, but seems to pour a little easier. There appears to be bits of parsley and other darker items blended evenly within, most likely the black pepper and oregano. There is a slightly sweet and tart aroma, with sort of a hint of a smoky mayonnaise-like aroma in the background, with no real hint at chiles at all.
The mouth feel of this is fairly thick and clings quite well to every corner of your mouth, so as a dressing style, I can see it’s benefits, in that when mixed well, it should coat nearly anything you would use in a salad quite well. There is that sweet tartness as a flavor right out of the gate, with a bite of vinegar flavor that amps up the tartness for a second or two, and then you start to taste the smoky flavoring of a chipotle in the very background, and then you get a bit of the earthy flavor from the oregano in it as well, but I can’t find the heat of the chipotle anywhere. I’m not even getting a bite from the black pepper really either, so I’m at a point where I’m wondering if even calling this Mild is true. The real heat/bite you get from this is that quick pulse of tartness from the vinegar, which is pleasant, and not overbearing, but really should be playing second fiddle to the chipotle. I mean, after all, chipotle is the word on the label. It doesn’t say Creamy Vinegar Dressing on the front of this thing. Basically, this just feels and tastes like a creamy Caesar style vinaigrette, and I’d say this is an okay salad dressing, and I can see using it for some things with very, very subtle flavor, such as a plain salad or one topped with shrimp or scallops, but it doesn’t have bold enough flavors to stand up to much other than very light food fare. In the end, it didn’t have much of a chipotle chile flavor and doesn’t strike me as anything nearly related to Tex/Mex or Southwest style in flavor and I have no desire to make sure that I bring this bottle with me to get fish tacos tonight, so I’m going to have to give this a Neutral rating, since I just feel really indifferent about it. Not horrible, but not something I would care to use unless I just happened to have it on hand.