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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Store Bought Sauces

It is quite often that I hear that store bought sauces are somehow inferior to the ever increasing number of artisinal BBQ sauces that are hitting the market in ever incresing numbers, especially as competitive barbeque has become more popular. To be sure, these small run, hand crafted sauces feature ingredients, formulations and hard won knowledge that simply does not translate well to the scale of production necessary to provide lower cost sauces at a grocery store level of supply chain. These more common sauces are often scoffed at by more serious BBQ hobbyists and competitors. But, from time to time, you hear of someone using Kraft, Bullzeye or some other brand and doing well. It got me thinking.

I decided to do a cook using both Kraft and Bulls-Eye BBQ sauces, bought from the local grocery store and used straight from the bottle. I would do everything else as I normally do for a backyard cook. I procurred the following bottles.

Yep, Kraft Original and Bulls-Eye Carolina

Here are the two sauces, and a blend, just as an experiment. I noted that the Bulls-Eye had vinegar as a first ingredient, and used sugar for sweetening. The Kraft had High Fructose Corn Syrup as a first ingredient. The overall flavor of each would reflect this difference. Here are the three in prep bowls.

Blended, Kraft, Bulls-Eye

The Kraft Original was quite a bit sweeter, with a little tang in the middle and finishing palate, The Bulls-Eye was tangier and had a slight heat on the finish. Overall, the Bulls-Eye was better than I expected, the Kraft was about what I would expect, but, not as good as I seemed to remember it from years ago. The Carolina sauce had a slight mustard twist, but, was too thick to be used as a mix in for pulled pork, I suspect if I was to use it for that purpose, it would need a lot more vinegar and peppers. The Kraft really did not stand out from what I would consider a normal store bought BBQ sauce. The blended mix was promising as a dipping sauce, although more for chicken nuggets than ribs or pork.

I did cook up some chickenm and sausage to test the sauces for both cooking and dipping. I also made some baked beans with the Kraft sauce. The idea, again, was to do what I normally do with a twist of using the sauce fairly straight. The sausage was smoked straight up, the chicken recieved a rub of Simply Marvelous Season-All, The Rub Company Santa Maria and Simply Marvelous Spicy Apple, all blended then rubbed and bagged for 10 minutes.

Raw Meat, Chicken Apple, Chorizo, Kielbasa, Chicken

On the Grill, Beans below

Cooked Meats, Kraft on left, Bulls-Eye on right

As you can see in the above photo, the sauces cooked down to an almost identical appearance, the Kraft and Bulls-Eye both worked well with the rub and applewood smoke. I would say that the Bulls-Eye actually had a spicier finish and lost a little of the over sweetness once on the chicken. To be honest, either one could be used on BBQ and I doubt most folks would know that they are supermarket sauces. Now, I could have done these meats without any rub, which would have shown their potential flaws more, but, that is not how I use sauce.

The beans, these were made with a saute of onions and garlic, some chopped bacon and chopped apples. Once the vegetables were softened, I added some canned beans, some Kraft BBQ sauce, maybe 1/2 cup and some cider vinegar, bourbon, Red Boat and water, to cover the beans. I was going to cook them in the kettle under the meats, so there had to be plenty of fluid.

Aromatics and Vegetables

Ready for the Kettle

In the end, I ended up with a really good plate of BBQ, if you will allow chicken and sausage as BBQ, which I will, since it was cooked at 300F, over a live fire, and smoked with apple wood. The final result was a bowl of beans with a nice smoky profile, a good sweet base and some bite on the finish, nothing radical here, just good, solid, baked beans. I could easily jump off from here, with some pepper sauce, more aromatics and a little broth and these beans would have been a great bowl. I did add the smoked sausage, so the next time, they will be quite good.

Finished Baked Beans

The plated meats, with some fries and a cole slaw made from the Bulls-Eye sauce, some additional cider vinegar, black pepper and a little sugar. This was a really good cole slaw dressing and showed some surprising versatility. As a dipping sauce, the Bulls-Eye worked great on the sausage, a nice tangy sweetness to offset the sausage flavors. Both sauces on the chicken worked great, I would suspect nobody would pick them off as grocery store sauces if tasted blind. Finally, there were fries, just for kicks. The combined sauce really was tasty with the fries.

Chicken and Sausage Two-way

In the end, I think that these sauces could actually make for a great compliment to a barbequed meat meal, I certainly would not discount them. If I had been doing this cook on a weekend with more than a couple of hours to throw it together, I could really work these sauces into a great presentation. I certainly will not discount store bought sauces, in the end, you just need to cook with them.

1 comment:

  1. I still use Kraft as an ingredient in the mop I use for smoked chicken. It was taught to me that way. I've tried using other sauces since then but the Kraft works the best for that mop.

    As far as "store bought", I'm lucky. Our grocery stocks a wide variety including Blues Hog.