Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review: Crazy Charley Cajun Bar-B-Cue Sauce

Crazy Charley Cajun Bar-B-Cue Sauce

Manufacturer Ford’s Crazy Cajun Enterprises

Quality **** (4 out of 5)
Viscosity *** (3.5 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma *** (3.5 out of 5)

Appearance **** (4 out of 5)

Packaging *** (3 out of 5)

Like coffee with your BBQ? Good news! Following the example of those brilliant visionaries who matched up Macaroni and Cheese, Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Cherry and Coke; Crazy Charley has made brewed coffee the prime ingredient in his Cajun Bar-B-Cue Sauce.

I’m familiar with coffee in rubs and in chili, but have never had it in a sauce. My initial impression is that it would round out the flavors and offer an earthy base for the other elements to play on. When I realized that the coffee was the first ingredient I was completely surprised. My opinion quickly shifted and I now thought the sauce would be very strong, maybe slightly acrid and a bit bitter with a predominant coffee flavor. I was very wrong.

The sauce comes in a mason jar type of container and holds 16oz of sauce. Due to the wide mouth, the sauce pours very easily. The label has a fading color scheme that moves from a light orange to a light red. The text is in black and the ‘Crazy Charley’ text is in an iconic font designed to give an off-kilter impression. There is a photo of (I have to assume) Charley himself in the center of the label.

Was coffee the first aroma to make itself known? Nope. That honor went to the ketchup that is the second ingredient in the sauce. As a matter of fact, the essence of coffee was nowhere to be found. Odd.

This is a rich, dark red sauce and is pretty much what you would expect a BBQ sauce to look like when it features coffee. As a matter of fact, the appearance of the sauce is much closer to what you would expect than the aroma or taste. There are lots of ingredients swimming around in there, but they are a bit hard to see due to the hue of the sauce. Seeds and pepper flecks show up and are a nice visual.

Don’t be concerned about pooling or slippage, this is a thick sauce. You will definitely need to use a brush to spread the sauce over the chicken or ribs when applying it.

The taste of the sauce is unusual. At first it comes off as a standard KC style sauce but after a second or two you realize that there is a depth and nuance to the flavor is just now becoming apparent. The taste of the coffee is hidden behind everything else and is hard to detect. I assume that it helps to unify all of the other flavors, and if that is the case it does its job well.

As you would expect from a Cajun sauce, there is a smooth, lingering heat that permeates the sauce. It doesn’t overpower the flavors and instead adds a new dimension to the experience.

Akin to the flavor, the feel of the sauce is also nuanced and varied. Along with the seeds mentioned earlier, there are bits of minced onions in the sauce.

I would recommend this sauce for pork and brisket, but it might be a bit too strong for poultry.

General Notes:

I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).

Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accouterments (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.


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