Jim's Own Sauce Homestyle Smokey
Jim Arnold began developing barbecue sauces based off of his mother's recipes out of his home in Durham, NC. He then started selling the sauces he was creating as a small side business at first, but ended up leaving his job as a teacher and taking on the Jim's Own brand full-time in 1997. It was at this time that Jim realized he might have something larger on his hands when he got an order for 40 gallons of his sauce from his wife's co-worker after they tried some of Jim's sauce at a work event. An illness took Jim's wife in 2010, and soon after he made the decision to sell his business, which was purchased by Gentlewoods Food, Inc, run by Willem and Marilene van Schalkwyk in nearby Cary, NC. The brand has continued to operate and expand under their leadership and currently produces six sauces, four rubs, and three sausage seasonings that are available online and at select grocery stores in the Triangle region of North Carolina.
A sharp tangy and peppery aroma imparts a little tingle on the nose upon first whiff of this sauce. That sensation is fairly restrained through thanks to a prominent sweet tomato ketchup component that keeps the vinegar and pepper at bay. There's a mellow smokiness that doesn't have the harsh characteristics of liquid smoke, but rather melds with the spice layer, smelling more derived from peppers as it combines with a little garlicky sharpness to build increased complexity that also has a light Worcestershire tilt mixed in.
Thickness & Texture
This sauce is heavily spice laden, with its semi-transparency and light rusty red color making it easy to see a ton of white, black, and orange specs in various sizes. The sauce flows fast and evenly off of a suspended spoon thanks to its medium-thin thickness and syrupy consistency. The sauce stream remains steady for a couple seconds and then changes to a few fast drips once most all of the sauce has released, leaving only a thin layer of sauce left clinging to the silverware at the very end.
Out of the Jar
A fleeting sweet ketchup flavor comes first, which is overtaken quickly by a heavy vinegar tang. The initial wave of tartness doesn't completely drown out the sugary tomato though and also leaves room for the Worcestershire to build an initial savory depth that's added upon by earthy and smoky peppers, along with some garlicky notes. All of this happens very quickly before the tang takes a quick turn northward and becomes the most prominent flavor as the sauce after a few seconds. There's an extra boost of smokiness next, then, right as the sauce makes its exit from the mouth, the peppers release a medium heat and peppery kick that meld with and even stronger vinegar to form an aftertaste that leaves the tongue tingling.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce brushed onto the chicken in a thin and even layer that baked down well over indirect heat. When moved directly over the coals, there was no sauce loss and light caramelization. From the first bite, the chicken had a great sweet and tangy tomato flavor that was both fresh and bright tasting. A couple more bites in brought all the spices, smokiness, and Worcestershire complexity experienced out of the jar, with just a touch of heat hitting closer to when the leg was done being consumed.
Put to Use
It took me awhile after moving to Durham to finally pick up a Jim's Own sauce, but once I did, I immediately fell in love. Both the Hot and Mustard varieties garnered perfect scores from me and this Homestyle Smokey recipe followed closely in those sauce's footsteps. I did find myself a slightly less enthusiastic as my previous two experiences, but, to be honest, it's hard to say if that's partly due to the fact that this is my third sauce in the line-up and I know what to expect at this point. Still, this one is only half a star behind a perfect review because, while I appreciated the natural smoky flavor here, it was a bit drowned out by the intense vinegar that also was a little more upfront and dominant without the stronger heat or mustard pungency that the other sauces had. That's really nit-picking though, because this sauce tasted awesome both on and off the grill and had none of the downfalls some smoky sauces experience, like an unpleasant liquid smoke flavor. There isn't much I can think of that I wouldn't put this sauce on—it certainly did wonders on the chicken I ate, but with the strong vinegar base, I imagine it would be even better dressing a pile of pulled pork or whole hog.