Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Four BBQ Sauces I Can't Live Without

The first time I ever made my family's barbecue chicken for my wife, Chelsi, I didn't get the response I was looking for (I know what you're thinking, and yes, my family was the first to put KC Masterpiece on grilled chicken).  She didn't hoot and holler or slap her mama, she just thought it was really good juicy chicken with KC Masterpiece on top.  

This was beyond my comprehension.  How could she not love this chicken?  It's the best chicken I make.  If she doesn't like this chicken, then she must not like any grilled chicken.  My world started to crumble around me as I saw my future without any of my family's secret recipe barbecue chicken.

I was not going to let this pass.  I had to get to the bottom of it.  After poking and prodding for about 30 minutes, I finally found the reason why she didn't think it was the best chicken ever.  

It was the sauce.

As it turns out, my wife has very similar childhood memories of grilled barbecue chicken, but it didn't involve KC Masterpiece (I mean, how could it?  It's my family's top secret, never-before-revealed recipe).  Chelsi's family, and pretty much everybody in Oklahoma, are die-hard Head Country Bar-B-Q Sauce fans.

No matter how hard I try or how perfectly I grill my barbecue chicken, I will never be able to convince her that it wouldn't be better with Head Country.

I've since come to realize that barbecue sauce is one of those things about which everybody has an opinion, but nobody ever totally agrees.  It's pointless to try to convince people about who has the best sauce.  There are simply too many of them out there.  Kansas City, Texas, Memphis, Alabama, South Carolina, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Central California are all known for having a unique style of barbecue sauce.  North Carolina has two totally different sauces depending on whether you're on the coast or further inland.

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but my personal favorite is Kansas City style barbecue sauce.

Today, I'm going to share with you my four favorite barbecue sauces that I like to keep stocked in my kitchen.  I'll also let you know how you can get some.

First up is KC Masterpiece.  You've seen me use this before and you can find it any grocery store across the country.  It's my childhood favorite, so I keep some on hand at all times in case I'm ever feeling nostalgic.

Beside using it for barbecue chicken, you could also take 1:3 KC Masterpiece with 2:3 Kikoman's original teriyaki sauce and mix it in a zip top bag with pieces of chicken and veggies to make a delicious stir-fry.

Head Country is the Oklahoma staple.  It gets its sweetness from Kansas City, but it's smokey tomato-base from Texas.  Surprisingly, throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas you will find barbecue joints with terrific sauces inspired by their Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas neighbors, but they manage to be completely unique and finger-lickin'-good.

Head Country really shines on chicken and pork ribs.

Rufus Teague's Touch o' Heat is definitely my overall favorite.  It is unabashedly a Kansas City style sauce.  While it's not as thick as KC Masterpiece, it will take some time to drop out of the glass flask it comes in.  It's very sweet, but its color is a dark red instead of the deep browns you usually see around Kansas City.  What sends it over the top for me is the restraint Rufus Teague has regarding its heat.  I do not love spicy food, but I appreciate a slight kick to excite my taste-buds.  This is the first Kansas City style sauce that has managed to provide heat, but not so much that I have to stop eating it half-way through my sliced beef.  You should really go buy some.

This sauce is awesome on everything.  Chicken, pork, ribs, beef.  You name it.

Last but not least, there's Cowtown's Night of the Living Bar-b-q Sauce.  If you're looking for a spicy Kansas City style sauce, this is the one to get.  This stuff is hot.  They serve it at my favorite barbecue joint in Kansas City and I can only put it on every other rib, so that I don't burn off my tongue.  It's sweet, but not too thick, and it has a little punch from the extra vinegar that most Kansas City style sauces stay away from.  It's really a well balanced sauce in terms of flavor, but it's pretty high on the spice scale.  

I use this almost exclusively on ribs so I can control how much I have.  If you like hot sauces, then this will be great on anything.

There you have it.  Those are currently my four favorite.  The links on their names and in their descriptions will send you to their home websites or a website where you can order it online.  

I always want to try new sauces, so if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  Just leave a comment below or on Jim's Mixed Grill's facebook page.

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  1. Head Country. Nothing else is necessary. It makes ribs sing.

  2. As a self appointed grill guy your go to sauce comes from a bottle? Tell me it isn’t so. Hopefully the next post will be how you actually make your own sauce and these are just for the every day, and backup variety. If not, challenge extended.

    1. Haha, yes you’re right, Noah. It would be ideal to have my own sauce, but I haven’t quite figured one out that I think is worth sharing. Until I figure that out, all of these sauces are delicious and have won the American Royal Grand Championship or the best sauce award at the American Royal.