Tue Sep 3, 2019
A peach component mixes with tomato to amp up the fruitiness of the sauce, which pairs really nicely with a wave of heat, strong tang, and mellow smokiness to make this a well layered and balanced product.
For Jacqueline Brooks, the current head of the Southern Belles brand, the family path to barbecue began with another sauce completely—teriyaki. Jacqueline's grandmother took it upon herself to try to recreate teriyaki sauce for her husband, who had become enamored with the stuff after trying it on a trip in California, but couldn't get it at home in Memphis. While she never quite hit the nail on the head with teriyaki, during the journey this took her on, she ended up crafting a fine barbecue sauce that would end up being passed down through the generations. That's how Jacqueline Brooks has found herself in the barbecue sauce business, starting with family recipes, but expanding on those to what is now a line-up of eight unique sauces that all have a fruit focus and are produced out of Long Island City, NY.
A sweet and fruity aroma is the first thing to greet you when taking in a whiff of this sauce. The standard tomato forms the base, but there's little doubt of peach mixed in that amplifies the fruity character. A strong vinegar helps keep some of the sugars in check, adding a tanginess that also mixes with a bit of pepper to further hint that the taste is probably not all sweet. There's also a notable savory depth that smells like it's derived from a combo of molasses and tamarind, along with a small amount of sweet onion and sharp garlic too.
Thickness & Texture
This maroon sauce has a glossy sheen and smooth texture. It is opaque, but you can still see spice specs in medium and large sizes that come in red, white, and black. The sauce has a medium thickness and lightly syrupy consistency. From a suspended spoon, the sauce first falls in a large drip followed by a fast, uneven pour that slows to two or three small drips before ceasing and leaving a medium coating of sauce still clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
A sweet ketchup flavor starts things off in the flavor department. The fruitiness is dialed up quickly with a wave of peaches, then brought into balance with a medium vinegar tartness. As the sauce settles on the tongue, the complexity of the sauce quickly expands, first with a molasses and mild smoke flavor which is built upon by garlic and onion next. Then another wave of peaches brings a little more sweetness back right before an earthy pepper grows to a medium heat with enough power to burn the back of the tongue. This combines with the lingering sweetness, tartness, and fruitiness to deliver a pretty complex aftertaste as well.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce coated the chicken in a medium, even layer that baked down well over indirect heat. When moved directly over the coals, there was only light caramelization and a small amount of sauce loss. The flavor remained very sweet and fruity, but the peaches were completely overtaken by the tomato and all the layers that balanced and added complexity out of the jar were diminished. This left a thick, sticky sauce layer that lent a mainly sugary taste and only delivered more flavor after many subsequent bites.
Put to Use
This was my sixth, and last sauce in the Southern Belles line-up that the company kindly provided to me for reviews. The entire line-up was very fruit forward, and I appreciated that each recipe was unique and tailored to whatever particular fruit was being featured. While this certainly made things more interesting over the review period, it also meant there were hits and misses. Well, maybe nothing was really a miss because every one of these sauces tasted like a quality and well crafted product, so maybe a better way to describe it is, there were highs and then not as highs. Hot N Sassy Peach fits into that later category for me.
Out of the jar I thought it was really excellent with a great progression of flavors that worked well one after another to make the sauce more excellent at each stop. But it fell short after being grilled, having a diminished flavor that boiled down to sweet tomato, depriving the taster of all that greatness from out of the jar. So it should come as no surprise that I recommend this more as a condiment or finishing slather. I really enjoyed the heat that plays well with the peach here, and that combo would work wonders on pork—I can imagine this being especially good with pork chops or pork loin. The strong flavor if the sauce also means it can also work with heavier contenders too, such as burgers and steak. So there's still a lot of good this sauce is ready to impart, it just doesn't need to be cooked to harness its full potential.