Saturday, April 26, 2014

A New Marinade for New Mexico Hatch Chile Lovers

Stubb's Green Chile Marinade
New Mexico is famous for its green chili, a thick and hearty, pale green, tangy-spicy stew made with Hatch peppers, chicken, onions, garlic and savory spices. The key ingredient in green chili is the Hatch pepper, which is also called New Mexico pepper. Hatch chiles are also used in southwestern barbecue sauces and marinades that complement everything from chicken and poultry to beef, pork, venison and other red meats. New Mexico style green chile marinades also work quite well with fish, shrimp and other seafood as well as with grillable vegetables like mushrooms and summer squash, because they tend to be lighter or more subtle in flavor rather than earthy or robust like chipotle or habanero based marinades can be.

Fresh Hatch peppers are hard to find on the east coast or pretty much anywhere outside of New Mexico because of their short growing season and limited growing area. As a result, they are highly prized by chefs and cooks who want to make authentic New Mexico style recipes and sauces featuring the distinctively bright, moderately spicy flavor of this elusive pepper.

If you want to experience the zesty flavors of New Mexico Hatch peppers but cannot find the chiles in your local stores, I have good news: The Carolina Sauce online store now carries a wonderful new green chile marinade made in the traditional way with Hatch peppers, lime juice and other all-natural ingredients for genuine southwestern flavor!

Stubb's Green Chile Marinade comes to us from Texas' first name in all things barbecue: Stubb's. This baby is appropriately moderate in spiciness (the only hot chiles used in this sauce are Hatch peppers and jalapenos), with a delightful citrus tang from lime and pineapple juices as well as orange and lemon zest. Garlic, onion and a secret blend of spices add savory depth, while a touch of brown sugar provides mellow harmony to this symphony of Southwestern flavors and spice. And like all of Stubb's barbecue sauces, marinades and rubs, this marinade is made with only the finest all-natural ingredients.

Buy Stubb's Green Chile Marinade online while it's on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company, and you can enjoy New Mexico style barbecue and grilling anytime of year, anywhere you can grill, smoke or cook.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, April 25, 2014

Low-Carb Recipe: Cheesy Bacon Cauliflower Smash

Mashed cauliflower with cheese & bacon
The following is Greg's recipe for a decadently delicious and sumptuously rich, low-carb alternative to "loaded" mashed potatoes.

Gloriously gooey, magnificently bacon-y, and zestily tangy-spicy with pickled jalapenos (or hotter peppers if you prefer), the last thing that will be on your mind as you dig in is that this hearty side dish is made with cauliflower. Yes, even cauliflower-haters will devour it!

Don't believe me? Try it yourself, and don't let anyone know the "secret" main ingredient.

By the way, you can use any kind of cheese you like, such as cheddar, Swiss, hoop cheese (which is what Greg used in the photo), mozzarella, Monterey jack, etc.

The quantities of the ingredients can also be adjusted to suit your preferences, and you can use other peppers or even pickled mixed vegetables such as giardiniera instead of the pickled jalapeno slices.

1 head cauliflower
1/2 cup shredded cheese (any you like, e.g., cheddar or hoop cheese)
1/2 stick butter, softened
4 strips of bacon
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos*
Salt & Pepper to taste

sauteed onions and peppers with bacon
*For a hotter, spicier version, use chopped or sliced Ghost Peppers; for a milder version, use chopped or sliced Sport Peppers; for an Italian version, use Giardiniera (chopped or diced) and an Italian cheese such as mozzarella

Break up cauliflower into florets and boil or steam until very soft. Strain and set aside. Chop bacon, place in a large, deep saucepan or a Dutch oven and cook until done but not crispy. Add onion, garlic and jalapenos to the bacon and saute until soft and onion is turning golden (photo on right shows this as it's cooking).

Add the cooked cauliflower and butter, then mash everything together until as creamy or as lumpy as you want it (Greg prefers a lumpier, more interesting texture as shown in the photo at the top). Stir in the cheese and cook until cheese melts. Taste for balance and season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve hot. Makes approx. 4 to 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Looking for J.T. Pappy's Gator Sauce? Read This!

Buy J.T. Pappy's Gator Sauce
Attention fans of J.T. Pappy's Gator Sauce, Flamin' Gator, Gator Grenade, Termigator and Hickory Heaven BBQ Sauces:

After almost 2 years off the market, production of the J.T. Pappy's line of "gator" themed barbecue sauces has resumed!

A new company has acquired the recipes from the original owner and JT Pappy's sauces are once again being made, using the same mouthwatering recipes that so many people, young and old, have come to love.

If it were up to me, the Carolina Sauce Company would already be selling JT Pappy's BBQ sauces again in our online store.

But unfortunately, the decision is not up to me: It's up to our warehouse partner. And unfortunately, they don't believe me when I tell them that there's HUGE demand for these zesty, savory barbeque sauces, and that lots of people are eager to buy J.T. Pappy's sauce again if only we would sell them online.

In order to convince the warehouse that they need to re-stock the JT Pappy's line of barbecue sauces, I'm keeping a waiting list of people who want to buy one or more flavors of the JT Pappy's Gator sauces online if we carry them again. If we can get enough people on the waiting list, we can show the warehouse that people WANT us to bring back J.T. Pappy's and we NEED to carry these sauces again!

Want to help us get J.T. Pappy's back on our website? Send me an email with "JT Pappy's" in the subject line, and help our waiting list grow. We need numbers to prove the warehouse wrong! (And don't worry, I'm NOT sharing your name or email with anyone else. I simply need to count the number of people who want us to bring back JT Pappy's.)

Click here to Sign Up for the J.T. Pappy's waiting list

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter and Passover Wishes

Photo by Marsmettn Tallahassee on Flickr
Photo by Marsmettn Tallahassee on Flickr
To all our friends, colleagues and fans who are celebrating the resurrection of Christ Jesus, I wish you a joyous and blessed Easter. Alleluia! He is Risen!

And to all friends, colleagues and fans who celebrated Passover last week, I'd like to wish you a belated but heartfelt Happy Passover, with apologies for the lateness of this wish (personal matters have been taking priority lately, leaving me less time for this blog). Chag Sameach and Shalom!

Regardless of faith, may blessings and peace be with you and your loved ones on these joyous and holy days, and all the days of your lives. And to the faithless, peace and good wishes to you and yours as well, today and always.

Zestfully yours,


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Don't Miss Our April VIP Coupon & Newsletter!

Get Carolina Sauce Coupons
HEADS UP:  If you want a 7% off coupon that's good on ALL products available at the Carolina Sauces online store, you won't want to miss our upcoming VIP Newsletter, scheduled for emailing next week only to our VIP Club members.

In addition to this exclusive VIP coupon, the April Newsletter will feature the latest new products that have just arrived at our warehouse, fresh springtime recipes for the kitchen and grill, and information on pre-ordering the highly-anticipated 2014 edition of Dave's Insanity Private Reserve hot sauce as soon as it's released.

If you're not already a Carolina Sauce VIP, sign up now for free so that you don't miss out on our April Newsletter. Upon confirming your subscription, you'll automatically receive a 5% off Welcome Coupon that's good anytime, and you'll be on our list to receive the April 7% off coupon next week along with your VIP Newsletter. Or, if you prefer, just send me an email with "Sign Me Up" in the subject line, and I'll take care of it for you.

Any questions? Email me and I'll be happy to help.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Low-Carb Casserole: Garlic-Lover's Italian Sausage Bake

The following recipe is the first thing I cooked in my new oven in the Silver Sausage (aka RV-Que) here at camp. I wanted lasagna or spaghetti with meat sauce, but Greg is being so good and getting such great results with his low-carb diet that noodles, pasta or other carbs were out of the question. So I threw this low-carb Italian sausage casserole together as hearty supper using the ingredients I had on hand that would work for both of us.

My recipe calls for dried herbs because that's all I had at the time. Normally I would have included some rosemary but I was out. Feel free to add some with the other herbs if you wish. Instead of an Italian cheese, I used a local cheddar-style hoop cheese because that's what was available when we went to the little grocery store in town. For a more authentically Italian flavor use mozzarella, or parmesan or other Italian cheese. We also happened to be out of eggs, which is why there are none in this recipe and why I'm calling it an Italian Sausage "Bake" rather than a "casserole." The absence of eggs and bread crumbs or other such binders resulted in a looser consistency that was spoonable but could not be cut into neat portions. In other words, the finished product wasn't exactly pretty when served... but once we took a bite we quickly forgot about appearances and happily tucked in. I hope you will do likewise.

One last note: If you are not on a low-carb diet, you are more than welcome to spoon this zesty sausage bake over cooked pasta, or enjoy it with some bread.

1 lb bulk Italian pork sausage
Optional: Olive Oil for sauteing
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Lots of fresh garlic cloves (I used 20), crushed then minced
4 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
Recipe for Italian sausage casserole
Simmering everything before baking
Small bunch of dark leafy greens (e.g., chard, spinach, kale... I used fresh radish tops), finely chopped to make 1 cup
1/4 cup red wine (something Italian is perfect)
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded or grated cheese

Brown the sausage in a large, deep skillet, stirring regularly to break up clumps. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the browned sausage into a medium pot or saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Drain off some of the rendered pork fat from the skillet, leaving about 2 Tbs for sauteing (that's what I did), or, if you prefer a healthier fat, drain off and discard all of the pork fat and add about 2 Tbs olive oil to the pan. Add onion and saute over medium heat until soft and translucent. Stir in bell pepper & garlic and saute until soft. Add mushrooms, chopped greens & red wine, and saute until the greens have wilted and the liquid in the pan has reduced somewhat.

Low-carb Italian sausage bakeTransfer the sauteed vegetable mixture into the pot with the sausage. Add the undrained tomatoes, herbs and seasonings to the pot (do not add cheese), and stir to combine well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes uncovered at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until much of the liquid has evaporated -- you want a consistency that's thicker and drier than a sauce, but not completely dry.

When the mixture looks almost ready, preheat oven to 350°F. When the sausage mixture is cooked to the right consistency, pour it into a casserole dish (I didn't grease it and it came out just fine). Sprinkle top with cheese and bake at 350°F until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Makes approx. 6 servings. Serve in bowls, and for a spicier flavor splash on some of your favorite all-purpose hot sauce.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Available Now: Pure Red Habanero Pepper Mash by the Gallon

buy red habanero mash gallon jugsAttention caterers, restaurants, BBQ competition teams, and anyone else who prepares food for large crowds -- and also anyone who makes batches of hot sauce or is seriously addicted to habanero peppers or spicy food:

The Carolina Sauces online store now sells Pure Red Habanero Pepper Mash by the gallon!

This is the real deal, folks, unprocessed and without any additives of any sort, which means you'll get the freshest, purest red habanero flavor and heat. This fiery hot pepper mash is made from the finest select red habaneros picked at their peak of ripeness for ideal heat with a nicely rounded, almost sweetly mellow finish that you don't get from lesser quality or unripe peppers. In short, you get the best possible combination of rich habanero flavor and powerful heat.

Packed in food-service plastic gallons for ease of shipment, storage and handling (plastic jugs are much lighter and obviously less fragile than glass), this high-quality habanero mash is ideal for professional chefs and cooks as well as home canners, "mom & pop" hot sauce or barbecue sauce manufacturers, and other fiery food enthusiasts.

Normally sold for $45 a gallon, our gallon jugs of Pure Red Habanero Pepper Mash are currently on sale for only $39.95 -- And if you sign up for our free VIP Club, you'll automatically receive a coupon for an additional 5% off the sale price!

Any questions? Simply email Customer Service, or contact me.

Zestfully yours,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vegetarian Matzoh Ball Soup

Matzo ball soup recipe
Whether you're Jewish or gentile, vegetarian or carnivore, this soup is the epitome of comfort food especially if you're under the weather -- and it's Kosher and appropriate for a Passover seder if you observe Pesach. While traditional matzo ball soup uses chicken broth, my vegetarian-friendly version uses vegetable broth (the photo on the left shows a traditional soup made with chicken broth). Ideally you should use homemade broth because it will taste richer than anything you can buy at the store. You can also "fortify" the broth by adding sliced carrots and other such soup-friendly vegetables if desired.

For best results, crumble the matzoh crackers to the consistency of cracker crumbs either by using a food processor or by placing the crackers in a large zip-top plastic bag and crushing with a rolling pin. When soaking the crackers, use the least amount of water possible, just barely enough to cover the crumbled crackers. Finally, it is crucial that you not add too much matzoh meal to the mixture, or else the balls won't float and will likely disintegrate while cooking in the broth. And because the dough will be sticky, you may want to coat your hands with olive oil before forming the balls.

1 10oz package matzoh crackers
1/4 cup olive oil
3 eggs (and possible an extra one)
2 shallots, very finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh parsley OR 1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Matzoh meal (probably no more than 1 Tbs)
2 quarts vegetable broth

To make the matzoh balls: Start a large pot of salted water boiling on your stove. Finely crumble the matzoh crackers into a large bowl. Pour just enough water over the crumbled crackers to barely cover, and let soak until softened. Drain/press off any excess water.

While the crackers are soaking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallots, carrots & garlic for a couple of minutes until softened. Add drained/pressed cracker crumbs and saute until the mixture is lightly golden, crumbly and somewhat dry (it will still be moist, like a dough). Remove from heat and transfer to a clean, dry bowl. Add parsley, salt, pepper & 3 eggs, then stir together until thoroughly combined. Mix in a little bit of matzo meal, just barely enough to allow the mixture to hold together -- the texture should be like that of ground meat for meatballs, fairly sticky but able to hold a ball shape. Adding too much matzoh meal will prevent the balls from rising when cooking and will cause them to fall apart in the broth.

Now it's time to test your mixture:  Take a small handful and shape into a golfball-sized ball. Gently drop it into the boiling water. It will sink at first, and if your mixture is just right it will rise and float after a couple of minutes of boiling. If it doesn't rise, or if it breaks apart, add a beaten egg to the remainder of your matzo mixture and work it in thoroughly, then form another test ball and repeat the test. Once you have the mixture right, i.e., the test ball rises when boiled, you're ready to form all your matzo balls and make the soup.

For the soup:  Heat the vegetable broth (and any added sliced or chopped vegetables, if desired) to a gentle boil. Carefully add the matzoh balls and cook at a low boil until all have risen -- this should take around half an hour or so. Serve and enjoy! Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Zestfully yours,

PS: The Carolina Sauces online store is your source for zesty Kosher sauces and seasonings including Kosher hot sauce, Kosher barbecue sauce, Kosher ketchup and more! Check out our diverse selection of Kosher products, from mild to wild!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Save Homeless Animals when you buy Dog-Gone Sauces

Sometimes a sauce brand comes along that stands out not only because of its superior flavors and ability to bring out the best in your food, but also because of its greater purpose. Dog-Gone Sauce is such a brand.

Dog-Gone Hot Sauces and BBQ Sauce were created by Jeff Schmidt, a lifelong animal lover with extensive food industry experience and an affinity for zesty flavors, in order to raise money for homeless animals. When you purchase any flavor of these high-quality, all-natural and great-tasting sauces, Dog Gone Sauce donates 100% of its after-tax profits to animal shelters and rescue groups. To date, hundreds if not thousands of homeless dogs, cats and other animals have been saved as a result. The Carolina Sauce Company is thrilled to be able to offer you all three flavors of Dog-Gone Hot Sauce as well as their all-purpose, family-pleasing Barbecue Sauce, as part of our Sauce For A Cause program.

Sweet & smoky, gently spicy (not hot) Dog-Gone BBQ Sauce features a thick and hearty tomato base seasoned with tangy mustard, zesty garlic and savory spices, sweetened with real honey and molasses, and perfectly balanced with earthy smokiness and a dash of peppery zip. It's finger-lickin' good as a basting and grilling sauce on pretty much anything including ribs, hamburgers and other meats, chicken, turkey legs, fish, shrimp & other seafood plus your favorite grilling vegetables (try it on portobello mushrooms, veggie burgers, zucchini etc.). You can also bake or slow-cook with it, add it to recipes calling for barbecue sauce, and enjoy it at the table as a dipping or slathering sauce. Kids love dunking French fries, chicken strips, tater tots and even baby carrots in it.

For hot sauce lovers who appreciate innovative flavors as much or more so than fiery heat, Dog-Gone Sauces makes three inspired varieties of hot sauces. For traditionalists and anyone who enjoys dark, smoky heat, there's the garlicky Chipotle Sauce that packs the richly dark and complex smoke and firepower of genuine chipotle in a vinegar base that gets a delightful gourmet boost from roasted red peppers. Obvious ways to enjoy this south of the border-style hot sauce is with all your favorite Mexican, Tex-Mex and Southwestern foods such as nachos, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, huevos rancheros and more. It's also a nice condiment for burgers, chili, pizza and other hearty foods.

For fans of fruit-infused hot sauces, there's Dog-Gone Pineapple-Honey Hot Sauce, a sassy, fiery tropical style hot sauce that gets its big burn from habanero peppers and its bright tangy flavor from lusciously juicy pineapple. A dash of garlic and pinch of ginger add gourmet zip for a burst of spicy flavor that will make you smile. Fantastic on chicken and seafood dishes, it's also wonderful with rice and beans, fried rice and stir-fry recipes, and grilled meats including all sorts of sausages.

Finally, Dog-Gone Honey-Rum Hot Sauce is smooth and mellow with a warm medium heat, seductive sweetness from honey and tropical fruit including mango, and a depth of sophisticated character from raisins and a splash of dark rum. Magnificent on pork chops, roast chicken, salmon or tuna steaks, mixed grilled vegetables, shrimp stir-fry, Asian noodle dishes and more, it's also lovely with lamb, venison, brisket and other hearty meats.

You can purchase each kind of Dog-Gone sauce individually, by the 3-pack or by the 12-bottle case, and also in combo packs. And remember that every time you treat yourself to these dog-gone delicious sauces you are helping to save the life of a dog, cat or other homeless animal.

Click here to buy Dog-Gone Sauces.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, April 11, 2014

Zesty Ginger-Garlic Salmon Poached in White Wine

This simple salmon recipe features a nice balance of bright and zesty flavors that will delight the palate and the nose. The higher the quality of your ingredients -- e.g., fresh vs. frozen salmon, fresh raw ginger & garlic vs. jars or tubes, a decent wine you'd enjoy sipping with your dinner -- the better the flavors in the finished dish. But even if you use frozen fish and prepared ginger or garlic -- which is all I had at the RV when I first came up with this recipe -- it will still be tasty and satisfying to the senses.

Please don't prejudge my Ginger-Garlic Salmon by this photograph, which doesn't display the dish's true colors -- in real life the deep pink of the salmon provides a lovely contrast to the pale creamy yellow of the onions and garlic and the earthy brown of the mushrooms. I garnished with lime zest for this photo, which added a nice counterpoint to the warm pink color of the fish. Unfortunately my inexpensive, old camera and poor excuse of photo-editing software failed to capture the richness and vibrancy of the real colors.

This recipe is for two servings -- you can double it to serve four. Pair it with cooked rice or noodles, and complete the meal with a salad or cooked green vegetable such as stir-fried bok choy or steamed broccoli.

2 6-oz salmon fillets
2 Tbs Asian stir-fry oil (or vegetable or peanut oil)
1 small onion, peeled & trimmed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 baby bellas or other small mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp very finely minced ginger (or ginger paste)
1 tsp herb blend for seafood, e.g., Tennessee Whiskey Lemon Pepper & Herb Seasoning
1/2 cup white wine (something not too dry)
Salt & pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: Grated citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit), finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a wok or deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the onion into quarters and then slice each quarter as thinly as possible. Likewise, slice the garlic as thinly as possible, ideally paper-thin (a very sharp chef's knife makes this much easier). Stir-fry the onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion begins to soften and become translucent. Add mushrooms & ginger and stir-fry another 2 to 3 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in the herb seasoning and wine, bring to a gentle simmer, then add salmon fillets. Cook at a simmer, turning once, until salmon just barely flakes when a fork is inserted in the thickest part of fillets. Plate the salmon, taste the sauce for balance (it should have reduced a bit during cooking), season with salt & pepper to taste, stir and serve over the fish.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Top 10 Carolina Sauce Company Products for March

Wells Barbecue Sauce
We're back at the RV-Que after a week in Montana, and I've finally had a chance to tally the numbers for March in order to compile the month's list of Top 10 Best-Selling Products at Carolina Sauce. We had a surprising number of newcomers and long-awaited returns to the list, which was dominated by hot sauce since the barbecue season hasn't yet begun in many parts of the country (and it's been an unusually long, cold and snowy winter for many). The following are the top-selling sauces and seasonings for the month of March:

1. Wells Hog Heaven BBQ Sauce is back on top after finishing in second place the previous month. This vinegar barbecue sauce from eastern NC is the real deal, made with no tomatoes or thickeners for that true-to-breed thinness and tangy-spicy (but not hot) flavor that just begs to be poured over smoked pulled pork. Wells also serves as a marinade for chicken, especially if you add a little oil to help seal in the juices.

2. Matouk's West Indian Hot Sauce: Up from a fourth-place finish in February, this bright and sunny papaya-infused hot sauce from Trinidad & Tobago gets its moderate heat from scotch bonnet peppers, its zesty tang from mustard (like many Caribbean hot sauces do), and its delightfully fruity but not overwhelming sweetness from sun-ripened tropical papaya. Ideal for seafood and chicken, it's also delicious with vegetarian dishes and grilled anything.

Matouk's Calypso Sauce
3. Matouk's Calypso Hot Sauce: Slipping from first in February, Calypso Sauce is similar in many ways to Matouk's West Indian, but with a more pronounced peppery heat and without the prominence of papaya because the scotch bonnet chiles take center stage in this medium-hot sauce. You still get the jaunty mustard tang and luxuriously thick, rich texture that's standard in all of Matouk's hot sauce. Not too strong for fish, chicken or vegetables, Calypso Sauce is fantastic with all sorts of meats and grilled fare, as well as with rice & beans, stews and other hearty fare.

4. Walkerswood Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce: Returning to our top-ten list and our most popular classic scotch bonnet pepper sauce of all time, this is an honest to goodness single-chili hot sauce that shows off the true flavor and fire of the powerful scotch bonnet pepper without any distracting spices, fruits or other additives. If you are fond of scotch bonnets and want a classic, all-purpose savory hot sauce for everyday use at the table and in the kitchen, this is an excellent choice.

Mexican Mayan Hot Sauce
5. El Yucateco XXX Hot Kutbil-ik Mayan Hot Sauce: Quite possibly breaking into the top 10 best-sellers for the very first time, this genuine Mexican hot sauce claims to be based on an ancient Mayan recipe that's been passed down from generation to generation. It is quite HOT even for a habanero pepper sauce, but it doesn't have that artificial flavor or unnaturally painful burn of extract-enhanced sauces -- which means it's a favorite of chiliheads who want to taste their food amidst the powerful heat. It's a natural with any Mexican food of course, as well as with Tex-Mex and Southwestern dishes.

6. We had a tie for sixth place in March between Walkerswood Mild Jerk Seasoning, which is the "kindler, gentler" version of Walkerswood's traditional Jamaican jerk seasoning paste (you get all of the same aromatic, exotic Jamaican flavor but without the fearsome heat), and Gator Hammock Hot Gator Sauce, a "foodie favorite" from Florida with its artful blend of spicy peppers and specially selected seasonings, holding steady in 6th place for the second consecutive month.

7. Another tie, this time for the seventh slot, featured Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce, a colonial-style (not a jerk sauce) all-purpose Jamaican hot sauce dropping one slot from February on our best-seller list, and Endorphin Rush Hot Sauce, an extremely hot extract-spiked sauce that actually delivers good flavor in addition to powerful heat because it's made with a rich tomato, molasses & soy sauce base. Endorphin Rush made a long-awaited return to our top ten list after a protracted absence.

8. Matouk's Flambeau Sauce also returned to the top 10 in March. This is probably the hottest non-extract scotch bonnet pepper hot sauce you can buy, but it's not just about the incendiary heat level. Made with aged select scotch bonnet pepper mash as its primary ingredient, Matouk's continues its commitment to great-tasting, thick hot sauces by blending this mash with Caribbean spices and mustard for a phenomenally fiery yet flavorful super-hot sauce that will complement hearty, savory food while lighting up your mouth.

Dog-Gone Sauce
9. Our final tie of the month was between two newcomers to our best-sellers, namely Pappy's XXX White Lightnin' BBQ Sauce, featuring a spicy-hot, whiskey-laced, southern-style tomato-vinegar flavor that complements ribs, burgers, brisket, pork chops, venison, chicken & more, and Dave's Gourmet Insanity Spice, a crazy-hot blend of super-hot red savina habanero peppers that have been dried, ground and then combined with a dash (or more) of pepper extract for an extremely concentrated and seriously HOT heat that you can spoon into recipes or sprinkle cautiously over served food that could use a fiery jolt.

10. Dog-Gone BBQ & Hot Sauces complete our list of last month's best-selling products. Created by a kind-hearted gourmet with a soft spot in his heart for homeless dogs and cats, 100% of all after-tax profit from the sale of these flavorful hot sauces and barbecue sauce is donated to animal shelters and rescue groups. The hot sauces come in the following inspired flavors: garlicky Chipotle, fiery-sweet Pineapple Honey, and the smooth & fruity Honey Rum. The bold, rich Dog-Gone BBQ Sauce delivers sweet, smoky & slightly spicy flavor in a zesty tomato base. Help save a homeless animal while enjoying great food when you buy Dog-Gone BBQ Sauce and Hot Sauces!

Zestfully yours,

Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Make Beer-Can Chicken on a Smoker

Most people cook beer can chicken on their barbecue grill. But did you know you can make juicy, tender, succulent and flavorful beer can chicken on a smoker?

Ever since moving out to the RV-Que, Greg has been smoking whole chickens fairly regularly. It's extremely easy and takes very little work, other than building a good fire and maintaining a steady temperature, which is not difficult on fair, calm days although it is a little trickier if it's windy, very cold or rainy.

The following are Greg's step-by-step, fool-proof instructions for smoked beer can chicken:

1. Start with a large, plump, fresh or completely thawed chicken -- no old scrawny birds, because they're more likely to dry out. Also, don't forget to remove the packet of gizzards and any other items that may be in the cavity!

beer can chicken roaster2. Despite the name, do NOT use a real beer can to cook the chicken. Aluminum tastes bad in chicken, plus you don't want any chemical residues from coatings or paint from the can. Instead, use a stainless steel beer can chicken roaster, which is much sturdier and won't impart any "off" flavors or unwanted substances -- plus you can fill it with any kind of beer, or with wine, juice or other liquid as well as seasonings such as garlic cloves or citrus slices (lemon, lime, orange).

3. Choose the right wood for smoking chicken: Hickory, maple, and any fruit wood are appropriate because they will add pleasantly mellow smokiness and complementary sweet or bright notes without overpowering the natural flavor of the chicken or the spices in your rub. Mesquite generally is too harsh and strong.

BBQ Chicken Rub
4. Select a beer you like, but preferably a lighter, crisper one instead of darker, heavier beers. White wine is also a good choice.

5.  Use a full-flavored rub (rather than a mild or subtle one) that can stand up to smoking, such as Bone Suckin' Rub, American Style BBQ Chicken Rub, or Jim's Own Pincho Rub, and generously pat it all over the whole chicken.

6. Ignite the wood in a chimney starter and let it burn until you have nice hot coals, then transfer the coals into your smoker. When the smoker temperature hits 300°F, you're now ready fill your "beer can" roaster cup with beer (or other liquid), slide the chicken upright onto it, and place it in the center of your smoker.

7. Let the chicken cook on the smoker until your meat thermometer reads 180°F when inserted in a thigh and in the breast (don't let the probe hit a bone or you'll get an inaccurately high reading). This will take around 3 to 4 hours, depending on weather conditions. You should periodically check the temperature of your smoker: If it dips too far below 300°F, you may need to add more hot coals -- this is another time when a chimney starter comes in handy.

8. When the chicken is done, slide it off the can onto a plate and let it rest for a few minutes until it's cool enough to handle for cutting (or "pulling" if you're making pulled chicken BBQ). Letting the smoked chicken rest also allows the juices to settle, for the moistest, richest flavor.

Happy smoking!

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Road Again

downtown Bozeman Montana
HEADS UP:  I'm on the road this week, traveling to Bozeman, Montana (our future home) with Greg to begin our search for housing. Although I'll have my computer with me, I won't be online as much as usual, most likely just checking email and social media early in the mornings before starting the day and late in the evenings before bed.

Don't worry, the Carolina Sauces website and warehouse will continue processing and shipping online orders as usual, because they're a separate company from me and I am not part of those operations. So rest assured, no orders will be delayed or otherwise impacted by my trip.

Should you have any questions about products or an order placed online, simply email Customer Service as usual and they'll be able to help you out.

RV-QueIf you have any other inquiries that don't pertain to orders, you can send me an email or PM me through the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page, and I'll reply as soon as I am able -- but please understand that it may not be as promptly as usual, and it might take me a day or two before I can reply.

Greg and I will be back at the RV-Q sometime on April 8th, and life should be back to "normal" (whatever that is these days) for me beginning on Wednesday, April 9th. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Make Squeal Soup

Flickr photo by Virginia Hill
As any hog farmer will tell you, when you raise and butcher hogs, you use everything but the squeal.

What they won't tell you is that the squeal is the special ingredient used in an old-fashioned slow-cooked soup recipe that's a closely guarded secret among hog-farming families. The stuff of rural folklore and rustic legends, Squeal Soup is served only in farmhouses and in out-of-the-way mom-&-pop country diners in pig-farming communities, where it's served only to locals who know what to ask for because you won't find Squeal Soup on the menu.

For years I had heard whispered rumors of "squeal soup" when stopping at back-road barbecue joints throughout North Carolina, but I had yet to find anyone willing to confirm its existence, much less divulge the secret recipe or explain how one harvests a squeal.

Having recently moved out to rural Warren County, NC, I made it my mission to uncover the recipe for Squeal Soup, and to obtain a squeal to make it.

Obtaining the squeal proved to be the biggest challenge. You can't just saunter into a butcher shop or Piggly Wiggly grocery store and ask for some squeal. That will immediately give you away as an interloper from the city, or worse yet, a food blogger.

No, you need access to a live pig if you want to make genuine Squeal Soup.

According to local lore, a squeal must be harvested before butchering the hog, while it is still fat and happy and oblivious to its future fate. Dead pigs don't squeal.

To harvest a squeal, you need a curious, usually homemade, contraption that slides effortlessly, safely, comfortably and snugly over the pig's snout, and you need to be able to slip it on and off the pig quickly at exactly the right time:  On just before the pig squeals, and off -- tightly shut to trap the squeal --  before the hog realizes what's happened.

An experienced hog farmer can harvest a squeal in a matter of seconds, but that's after years of practice and sometimes the loss of a finger or three. Not having years of practice nor any extra fingers to spare, I opted to find a willing hog farmer and something to offer the friendly farmer in exchange for a fresh squeal (the selling of squeals to outsiders is seriously frowned upon among hog farmers, but it's sometimes possible to barter for a squeal).

Luckily, I was able to find such a farmer at the Piggly Wiggly one morning, when I overheard a mud-splattered, bedraggled and apparently henpecked fellow lamenting to a stockboy that his wife was demanding a bottle of something called "EVOO" after watching hours of cooking shows on the Food Network soon after they signed up for Dish TV. The stockboy had never heard of "EVOO" either, and both were at a loss when I walked up with a plan.

"I can give you a big bottle of EVOO for your wife, and you don't have to give me any money for it," I announced, immediately getting the farmer's undivided attention as the relieved stockboy slipped away to resume stacking cans of shad roe and hominy on Aisle 3.

The farmer eyed me suspiciously and asked, "What do you want for the EVOO?"

"The recipe for Squeal Soup," I replied, and before the farmer could object I added, "AND a freshly harvested squeal."

Pons Traditional Extra Virgin Olive Oil 500 mlThe farmer stood motionless and silent, mulling over my offer and weighing his options: Whether to risk the wrath of his newly-enlightened foodie wife or the ostracism of fellow farmers should they learn that he had disclosed their secret recipe AND supplied a squeal to an outsider.

Sensing weakness, I took a gamble and turned to leave when I felt a firm hand on my shoulder. He had made his choice, and chosen the lesser of two angers.

"Meet me in the parking lot here right after the store closes and bring your EVOO, and I'll have what you want," he whispered harshly and scurried out the door.

Having only a half-empty bottle of extra virgin olive oil back at the RV-Q and just enough time for the round-trip to Durham, I jumped in my car and raced straight down I-85 to the first supermarket I found in northern Durham, and purchased their largest bottle of EVOO.

I rushed back to the Littleton Piggly Wiggly, arriving just as the manager was locking the doors. A dusty pickup truck rattled into the parking lot. The farmer stepped out and looked furtively in all directions before reaching back into his truck and handing me an oddly-shaped, ominously shaking wooden container and a rumpled piece of paper. He thrust those at me and gruffly demanded, "Where's my wife's EVOO?"

I handed him the bottle, which he cradled in his arms as if carrying a treasure as he hurried back to his truck. I stared down with trepidation at the vibrating contraption in my hands and carefully placed it, along with the scrap of paper, in the passenger's seat of my car.

Back at the RV, I uncrumpled the paper and found the following crock pot recipe for Squeal Soup scribbled out in a shaky hand:

crock pot
1 pound cooked country ham, diced
1 smoked ham hock
1 squeal
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can corn kernels, drained
1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 can green beans, drained
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Dump everything in your crock pot and cook on High for half a day (start at lunchtime), or on Low all day long (start at breakfast time).

Note: You can make this soup without the squeal, but then it's just a smoky ham soup and not the elusive, legendary Squeal Soup.

My next quest: Capturing a snipe for the Roast Snipe recipe I've been hearing about.

Zestfully yours,