The world of spicy foods and hot sauces grows every day. It seems like each time I take a trip to the grocery store, the shelves are replete with more and more bottles of hot sauces, spicy barbecue sauces, and “gourmet” grilling sauces. The downside to this proliferation of products, though, is that for every legitimately good stand-out sauce, there’s a dozen pretenders and “me too” items clogging the shelf space. Too often, manufacturers take the safe road, which is why we wind up with dozens of identical sauces. Carolina Joe’s, at least, is willing to take a risk. Packaged in a 26-ounce wine bottle (complete with screw-top cork!), the company’s Grillin’ Sauce seeks to stand out from the competition. Hopefully it succeeds in more than just presentation.
Chili Sauce (tomato paste, water, distilled white vinegar, sugar, salt, onions, spice, garlic powder, natural flavoring), Worcestershire Sauce (distilled white vinegar, molasses, water, sugar, onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavorings, chili pepper extract), Apple Cider Vinegar, Ketchup (organic tomato concentrate from red ripe organic tomatoes, organic distilled vinegar, organic sugar, salt, organic onion powder, organic spice, natural flavoring), Honey, Molasses, Brown Sugar, Arrowroot Powder, Spices, Garlic Powder
This is more or less a barbecue-style sauce, one based on tomato flavor, but I’m glad to see that the chili sauce is the very first ingredient. This tells me that Carolina Joe’s is looking to cater towards the chileheads, or at least folks who appreciate a decent kick to their food every now and then. Otherwise, nothing in here is really a surprise compared to other barbecue and grilling sauces.
Impressive presentation aside, the sauce itself doesn’t really look like anything truly innovative. It has that deep reddish-brown hue characteristic of barbecue sauce, with pepper seeds floating in the mix. The most distinct thing about this is its consistency; this stuff flows almost as well as water. It clearly isn’t meant to be used as a topping post-cooking, but as an ingredient during the cooking process.
Smell and Taste:
Carolina Joe’s Grillin’ Sauce strikes me as a hybrid between A1 Sauce and ketchup. I don’t mean that to be disparaging, though, because the combination of tomatoes and molasses is a pretty sexy smell. The flavor here is both bold and biting, with all the best elements from a standard steak sauce and a typical hot sauce.
Although the chili sauce comes in at Number One, this Grillin’ Sauce isn’t really all that hot. Still, the heat stays on the tongue for some time, and the kick is definitely enough to warrant a Medium. I can see this being just at the upper limit of some people’s tolerance. That’s good, though, because the flavor is fantastic. Far from being all bluster, the presentation of this bottle serves as a sign that you’re about to try something delicious. Although this offering from Carolina Joe’s doesn’t really do anything truly innovative, it hits all the right notes. It’s hard to find fault with a product this good. I give it a Notable.
A few days after I received this package from James (at first I thought it was some wine for my birthday), I cooked up some stew-cut beef and vegetables with this sauce. I didn’t actually grill anything, but the food did a great job of soaking up the sauce during the cooking process. Had I taken the time to let the meat marinate, it probably would have been even better. So, that’s my recommendation here. Beef, chicken, pork, whatever; I’m not convinced that this will work so well if you try to apply it during the grilling process, but it should work extremely well as a marinade. Of course, you’re welcome to thicken it up to use it in other capacities.
With the holiday season upon us, surprise the chileheads in your life with a wine bottle-sized Grillin’ Sauce! The presentation alone makes it a great gift, with the added benefit of holding a worthy product!