KC Natural Sriracha-Q Bar-B-Q Sauce
Necessity is the mother of invention, or at least that's how Brendon O'Neill wound up becoming a barbecue sauce producer and founding KC Natural. In the early 2010's, Brendon began having daily digestive issues and found a solution to his problems by adopting an autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet. Part of this restrictive diet requires cutting out gluten, and most barbecue sauces are not gluten free once they add in the common Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce. So Brendon began formulating his own sauces, starting with his Mastodon AIP BBQ sauce, which was the first offering from KC Natural at its founding in 2015. The popularity of that sauce led to the quick development of another one, Primal Cherry AIP BBQ Sauce, and then a couple years later Brendon began branching out and created non-barbecue sauces to be part of his line-up as well. He currently sells three unique barbecue sauces, five other sauces, and a few spice blends out of his home base of Kansas City.
With a heavy jalapeño and garlicky aroma, this sauce smells solidly of sriracha on the first whiff. There's an acidic tomato element at play, which is the main upfront barbecue foundational element, but with a few deeper nosefuls, that's built upon by a mild molasses sweetness, oniony notes, and a little earthiness that lets you know that fruity jalapeño isn't the only pepper at play here. The tingle this sauce imparts on the nose is a pretty clear sign that there's a strong peppery character that is bound to deliver a substantial heat in the taste.
Thickness & Texture
This maroon sauce has a semi-glossy sheen and visible spices that come in medium and large specs that are orange, black, and white. The sauce's thickness is medium-thin and it has a slightly watery consistancy that's also textured thanks to a mixture of the spices and veggies—think thinned out tomato paste. From a suspended spoon, the sauce falls in a fast, uneven pour that doesn't take long to switch to a few slower drips and then stops, leaving a thin coating of sauce left clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
There's an initial tomato and garlic flavor that's notable since garlic tends to play more of a supporting role in barbecue sauces that usually doesn't come in until later stages of the flavor progression. The tomato is acidic at first, but within a second or two, a light molasses sweetness adds contrast and balance. The sugars are short-lived as a combo of peppers and vinegar brings a tang and spiciness in a medium manner at first, which allows you to taste a fleeting bit of onion before they both ramp up and create a strong burn. The garlic hasn't subsided at this point, which creates a sriracha flavor, but neither has the tomato, and that keeps the barbecue profile going as well. Once the sauce has left the mouth, it's mainly the taste of the peppers that remain with a bit of tart tomato clinging on in the background too.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce coated the chicken in a thin, even layer that baked down very well over indirect heat. Unlike more syrupy and/or sugary sauces, the coating wasn't as shiny as you may be used to. When moved directly over the coals, there was only light caramelization here and there, along with a medium amount of sauce loss, which made the leg benefit from one additional brushing at the end. In contrast to out the jar, which had a fairly solid sriracha taste, the flavor shifted to a more general barbecue direction after being cooked. The spicy peppers and garlic were both in tact, but some added sweetness and more prominence of the tomatoes are what tipped the scales in barbecue's favor. The extra sugars didn't diminish the heat much, which was noticeable after only a few bites, and really lip tingling by the time the leg was completely eaten.
Put to Use
Before writing up this post, I wasn't familiar with an AIP diet, but whatever may be restrictive about it you won't taste in this sauce, which delivers big barbecue flavors. It's the jalapeños that are really the star of this sauce, adding a lot of heat and fruitiness, and when mixed with the heavy amount of garlic used, combine to create that distinctive sriracha flavor. Tomato, vinegar, and molasses serve to cement the barbecue part of the equation, and you really wouldn't even consider that standard ingredients like Worcestershire or soy sauce aren't there unless you really stopped to think about it. For me, the sauce was more unique and worked better out of the jar—after being cooked it took on more of a standard barbecue profile, making it feel a little flat, albeit still tons better than your average supermarket sauce. It's also notable that the ingredients tasted fresh and the bits of garlic and other veggies let you know that this sauce wasn't crafted from solely dried spices. I think this would make a nice finishing sauce for wings or a condiment to pair with hearty items, like burgers or brisket, where the strong heat won't drown out the flavor of the meat completely.