Mike D's BBQ Big Sauce
Mike D's BBQ Big Sauce
$6.00 for 16oz at Mike D's BBQ
Tomato Concentrate, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Water, Honey, Worcestershire Sauce, Light Brown Sugar, Apple Juice, Onion, Apple Cider Vinegar, Prepared Mustard, Liquid Smoke, Salt, Sazon, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Italian Seasoning, Chili Peppers, Spice and Coloring
I picked up this bottle of Mike D's from the man himself, who was selling it at a craft fair the wife and I attended. Michael De Los Santos started his Durham, North Carolina-based business in 2014 after realizing he was on to a good thing when his hot barbecue sauce took 3rd place overall in in sauce contest in 2009. He began production with two sauces, but added a rub to his product line a year later. His business has continued to grow year after year, and he recently went threw a rebranding, making the bottle I reviewed look obsolete compared to the improved graphics adorning his products now.
There's a whole lot going on with this sauce on the first whiff. A sweet mixture of tomato and vinegar form a distinct base, but there's a ton of complexity upfront that's a bit difficult to pick apart. There's definitely a mustard pungency along with sharp notes of onion and garlic. Peppers bring an earthy heat to the party, while a combination of Worcestershire and smoke add additional layers to the aroma.
Thickness & Texture
This sauce has a rusty orange hue, smooth texture, and glossy sheen. It's semi-opaque, making it very easy to see the plethora of small orange, white, red, and black spice specs throughout the sauce. It's consistancy is medium-thin and watery, which has the sauce falling in a very fast, steady pour from a suspended spoon. Within seconds most of the sauce has released, and after a few quick final drips, almost no sauce is left clinging to the silverware.
Out of the Jar
The initial taste of this sauce is sweet with a bright tomato flavor. Vinegar quickly comes in and adds a balance to the sugar and a strong tangy profile that persists from then on. As the sauce settles on the tongue, all that complexity experienced in the aroma comes into play. First there's a wave of Worcestershire and mustard that adds depth and pungency. Then the onion, garlic, and earthy peppers work their way in followed by a faint smokiness in the background. As the sauce is on its way out, the peppers let off their heat while the vinegar tartness increases, leaving a more spicy aftertaste with hints of all the flavors that had come before.
Slathered & Cooked
The sauce coated the chicken leg in a very thin layer that took a few brushings to build up to its final orange-hue. The sauce baked down well over indirect heat, then had no burn off and minimal caramelization over direct heat. The flavor shifted to being primarily sweet, losing a lot of the complexity from out of the jar. The large amount of vinegar meant that the sweetness had a bit of tang to balance it out, but the nuances of the spices, mustard, and Worcestershire diminished. This left the chicken leg tasting a bit understated.
Put to Use
I was a big fan of Mike D's Spicy Sauce, which had a lot of the same complex character traits as the Big Sauce, but with a flavor that worked both on and off the grill. Mike D's Big Sauce was equally delicious out of the jar, with a great savoriness and layers of flavors that were more discernible thanks to a milder, but still present, heat. Unfortunately, that great flavor didn't translate after being grilled and I was left with a sauce whose more subtle taste was best suited for veggies, seafood, and light meats. Because of that, I highly recommend Mike D's Big Sauce as a condiment—it was really great on the meatballs Mike was serving at the craft fair—but as a finishing sauce for heavier items like ribs or beef, all of its great flavor may get a bit lost.