While taste testing the bottle of CDubs Original BBQ Rub, I also had the opportunity to test a sauce from a sauce company called Cook N Shoupe. This sauce is manufactured in Denver, Colorado in small batches. They call themselves the micro brew of BBQ. Cook N Shoupe have a line of 4 BBQ sauces that cover a wide spectrum of tastes. From mustard sauce, tropical sauce, sweet and tangy sauce to the fiery Angry Poltergeist sauce. The good folks at Cook N Shoupe were kind enough to send me bottles of the sweet and tangy Hillbilly Zen and the Angry Poltergeist sauce I mentioned above. Since they are so different, I want to give them separate reviews. Angry Poltergeist will come a little later. Right now lets concentrate on the Hillbilly Zen.
Cook N Shoupe describe there sauce as, “Our blend of hickory smoke, chipotle peppers and other zesty spices provides a fiery finish. You will find a perfect balance of sweet and heat to liven any party.” I hope they do not disappoint.
First thing you notice is the type of bottle they use. It is a long-neck beer bottle. It is even capped like a beer with a pop top. It really looks very cool. The only disadvantage I can think of is that you must reseal it with something else. A wine cork, foil or some plastic wrap would work well for this purpose. Cook N Shoupe are developing a special cork to be sold with the sauce at a future date. Next here is how the sauce looks.
Hillbilly Zen is a thinner sauce with a wonderful red color and great aroma. You can smell the vinegar and liquid smoke slightly. There are 2 types of vinegar used in this sauce, white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
Cook N Shoupe is an all natural sauce as shown by the label to the left. No corn syrup in this sauce. It is sweetened by brown sugar, beet sugar and molasses. The sauce is also gluten free for those with dietary restrictions on gluten.
In this day and age of taking short cuts and using corn syrup and preservatives, it is nice to see a sauce company do it the right way.
When I tasted the sauce straight out of the bottle, the first taste out of the bottle is the vinegar. Not heavy on the vinegar but you sure know it is in there. Secondly the sweet hits you along with a little bit of smoke flavor. Very pleasant tasting, not syrupy and not overly smokey. At the finish, you get that little bit of heat that rounds out all the flavors perfectly. That was the out of the bottle taste, but who eats sauce right out of the bottle. You have to put it on some meat to get the real taste of the sauce. I was cooking boneless skinless chicken breasts that night to test a rub out so I used the Hillbilly Zen on that chicken as well. I was impressed with how it bathed the chicken. It covered really well and clung to the meat. After coating both sides of the chicken, I let the sauce caramelize on the meat before i took it off. This is just the way I always cook it. I could also see taking it right off and having a wet look to the chicken. I think it would be great that way as well.
I told this story in my review for CDubs Original BBQ Rub, but I need to share it here as well because this is the sauce I used that night. My 7 yr old son is a very picky eater. He prefers his chicken in nugget form as most 7 year olds do. I had made him a plain chicken breast with just salt on it for him to eat. Upon seeing my chicken, he asked for a bite…and loved it. He then asked to replace his chicken with my chicken and I obliged. I had cooked and extra breast that night to try the rub alone so this was no problem. He ate all my chicken. That never happens. I ate the rubbed chicken breast and dipped it into the Hillbilly Zen sauce and it was outstanding. I still tasted all the flavors I tasted sampling straight out of the bottle just mellower and the vinegar taste was more of a compliment then the first thing you taste.
Cook N Shoupe’s Hillbilly Zen BBQ Sauce is a fantastic sauce. It has great taste with lots of balance. It was named perfectly. I highly recommend this and cant wait to try the Angry Poltergeist Sauce. I might have to do that alone because my family might be to scared. If you are in Colorado, Cook N Shoupe’s sauce can be found in stores or check them out on the web to purchase at cooknshoupe.com
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