Three Little Pigs Touch of Cherry
Chris Marks helms the Three Little Pigs brand which was born out of his Kansas City based barbecue team that has racked up awards in 50 national competitions, over 600 awards in local comps, a win at The Jack, and 8 wins at The American Royal. With a ton of barbecue know-how under his belt, Chris is very active in spreading his knowledge, teaching classes all over the United States each year. On top of that, he bottles and sells his sauces and rubs, with six different recipes of each.
A heavy smoky molasses aroma fills the nose upon the first whiff of this sauce. There's a medium vinegar tang and a strong fruitiness at play too, which smells mainly of the familiar tomato, but its depth certainly hints at there being more in play. It's a bit difficult to get more out of this smell than these primary traits, but a slight note of onion makes itself know with some extra effort. The aroma is notably pretty devoid of heat, but the dominant sugars could be masking that.
Thickness & Texture
This sauce's dark maroon color, glossiness, and opaqueness make it hard to see any spices at all, although in the bright sunlight you can see some small white specs here and there. The sauce's thickness sits right at the medium line and it has a very syrupy consistency which has it falling in a larger drip at first, then a medium and even pour following that. The stream slows to a few final drips before ceasing and leaving a medium layer of sauce left clinging to the silverware, in which you can now see black spice specs as well.
Out of the Jar
While the aroma was tilted toward tomato, the cherry hits right out of the gate in the flavor. An initial wave of sour cherry melds with molasses and vinegar as it begins to settle on the tongue, providing a tart experience with a heavy sugary back-up. The longer the sauce sits in the mouth, the more the tomato comes out, but it never overtakes the cherry flavor. There's some fleeting tastes of onion as sugars get drowned out by another wave of vinegar tartness which works to elevate the sour cherry flavor to a crescendo as the sauce makes its exit and the faintest touch of heat comes out in the aftertaste.
Slathered & Cooked
This sauce coated the chicken in a medium, kind of splotchy looking layer that became more uniform as it baked down well and built up with multiple brushing over indirect heat. There was then quick caramelization when the chicken was moved directly over the fire, but no overt burning and just a bit of sauce loss here and there. That strong cherry flavor persisted after being cooked, giving the chicken a very unique taste from the first bite. A little boost of molasses sweetness and tomato brought the sauce a bit more in the realm of standard barbecue, but it still would not be mistaken for a tomato-only sauce.
Put to Use
So many fruit sauces are "tomato and," so it was immediately commendable that Touch of Cherry actually tasted like cherry both out of the jar and after being cooked, making what's normally a supporting player a staring one. That brought on some initial excitement when trying out this sauce, but the more I sat with it, the more I was missing the full depth and complexity of what I consider to be some of my favorite specimens. This sauce certainly delivers the sweet, tangy, and fruity barbecue experience, but after the cherry, it fell a bit flat on delivering spices or savoriness. I don't think you'd be disappointed with Touch of Cherry by any means, and its deep molasses and cherry flavor would be very well suited on beef, especially burgers, and, dare I say it...steak. Still, being over 300 reviews in at this point, I feel like there's better options for backyard uses, while a sauce like this may be best at turning heads and giving you a leg up in competition.
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Tom Wolfe(a.k.a. Wolfeman) I paid hell trying to get this sauce! Not going to make a short story long, but I tried another type of Cherry Sauce, not gonna name names, but the initials are, Smokey Michigan
Sheryl C Not sure why cherry is mentioned so many times on this page about the sauce when the recipe doesn't even contain any hint of cherry, what's up??