Thursday, June 23, 2011
Mike Espey, the Country Chef, got in touch about his line of grilling sauces. I'd read that he made some really great sauces, so I was interested in seeing if the buzz was on target. The sauce is available at most Ingles grocery stores, but we don't have those around here. So, Mike sent me some sauce to try out.
If you're going to market as a country chef with all natural ingredients, then I would expect a really special product. I was not disappointed with this first bottle we tried out last night.
Mike does have professional labels and all the usual required info on the label, but he does use what I think of as home canning jars. The lids are not the thin top with the screw on piece, but these sauces do look and feel like home canned products. Even the sauce moved around in the jar like food my Grandma put up, and she was an excellent home canner.
When I opened the jar, I again got the home canned feel. This sauce smelled wonderful. I got a spoon and had a sample cold taste. Normally I grill and test hot, because that's how I use grilling sauces (and how I think most readers use it). But, this jar was calling my name, so I couldn't wait. The flavor was rich and full. I did catch the fresh ingredient taste. Again, I could imagine that my Grandma had made this grilling or barbecue sauce.
We had chicken last night, so I wanted something different and thought pork chops would be good. They are good for checking out sauces, because they are mild as far as the meat flavor.
One of the guys went to get the pork chops while I got the grill going. These ended up being really thin chops - like 1/4 inch thick. Ouch. It's really hard to do thin pork chops, and I recommend that you go 1/2 inch or thicker.
I've been grilling forever (like 38 years or so), so I can do most anything on the grill including thin chops. I sauced these chops and put them on. They were ready in under 5 minutes due to the thin cut. This meant the sauce did not set up or caramelize like you see in most of my home grilling photos. That's only due to the quick time on the meat. This is a tomato based barbecue sauce so does have the sugar to thicken and turn a prettier color. Dried out pork chops on the grill aren't good, so I had to put these on fast and pull them fast, so the sauce really ends up just heated.
We definately got the full flavor of Country Chef's Grilling Sauce. Thankfully, this is a delicous sauce, because it took center stage with thin pork chops. As with the cold taste, Country Chef's was bursting with homemade flavor. You could taste tomato, green pepper and onion like a home canner would include, but the vegetables were balanced with nothing overpowering - just a smooth flavor. The spices including the chipotle were spot on. There was the soft hot pepper kick but not enough to rule this one out for general friend and family gatherings.
I wish my Grandma were still living. This is the kind of barbecue sauce that would get her seal of approval. It is a great garden style barbecue sauce. If you hid the bottle, you could pull this off as your own, but I'd sure give credit to Mike, because it's nice to tell folks when you find a product at the grocery store that really does stand out.