Tuesday, June 07, 2011
I'm a fan of Guy Fieri and his Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." So, when I got an email from Keith letting me know that Guy has a barbecue sauce line, I was curious. This is a rural area, so it's not likely that we see new products early on, and Keith said that he'd send me sample bottles. That's really the only way I'd get to check out brand new barbecue sauces and I'm known to be quite (sometimes brutally) honest, so I cleared out some time on the schedule to grill this week.
There are four barbecue sauces in the Fieri line. Those are:
Carolina #6 Barbcueque Sauce & Marinade: Mop and Slop
Bourbon Brown Sugar Barbeque Sauce: Sweet & Sticky
Kansas City Barbeque Sauce: Smoky & Sweet
Pacific Rim Barbeque Sauce: Wok & Sauce
Since I'm a North Carolina girl, I thought I'd go with the hard test first and grill with the North Carolina #6. I would drop the "slop" part of the name. In the South, slop is what you feed to the pigs. My Grandma always had a "slop bucket" where you'd put the food scraps which were fed to the pigs. OK. The word likely does not have the same conotations everywhere. I just move on as far as that.
North Carolina has a very different approach to barbecue and barbecue sauces. Most big name brand BBQ sauces that say North Carolina are really Kansas style with some extra vinegar. In other words, they are tomato based and thick but just add some vinegar flavor.
I shook the bottle of Fieri NC barbecue sauce, and it seemed more in line with what we do here. Then, I opened the bottle, and it was, indeed, a vinegar based barbecue mop sauce and also smelled true to the area (vinegar kick and some heat from pepper seeds). Flying colors on test one. I do love barbecue sauces from other areas, but I don't like to see one billed as North Carolina if it's not.
With most barbecue sauces, you put the sauce on the last 5 minutes or so to carmelize. With North Carolina sauce, you do literally mop it on and often while the food is grilling or smoking. You can also marinate the food in a mop sauce, so that's what I did as you can see above. That just lets the flavor settle in the food.
There are a number of methods for grilling with mop sauce. I decided to go with an offset on the charocal on my PK cast aluminum grill and then slow smoke the chicken after letting it "set."
The steps for barbecue smoking North Carolina chicken this way are:
1. Let the chicken marinate in the mop sauce.
2. Start the coals and let the charcoal get hot. Then, put the coals on only one side of the grill, so that you have a hot and cooler side. You can do this on gas as well by just heating one side.
3. Put the chicken over the hot coals, until you get grill lines.
4. Keep mopping the chicken as it grills/smokes. You can do this all along.
5. Flip the chicken on the hot side of the grill and let it grill mark again.
6. Keep mopping.
7. Move the chicken off the hot coals to the cooler side of the grill. Shut the lid. Let the chicken cook off until done.
8. You can check the chicken and mop it with the sauce all you like, but don't overcook it, or it will be tough.
North Carolina mop barbecue sauce is unique, so I would not have been shocked if Guy Fieri had offered up a hybrid that was more tomato and thick with just some vinegar and pepper kick. He went beyond my expectations with having a sauce that really is true to the small niche area.
With this being said, I would again note that home grillers need to understand mop sauce. It is not like other thicker barbecue sauces. You can use it as a marinade. You can mop it or (if you prefer the term) baste it on. It's a thin type barbecue sauce so the grilling is a little different.
If North Carolina barbecue sauce is done right - both as far as the sauce and how it's used on the food - then it's a great way to add flavor. I have found that it's usually just North Carolina people who "get it." So, I must say that I'm impressed that Guy Fieri does offer a NC barbecue sauce that is true to the area. I give his sauce the thumbs up, and I'm a tough critic on our local style. If you want to try to do North Carolina style barbecue and don't want to make your own barbecue sauce, then I'd say you can't go wrong with Guy Fieri's North Carolina #6.