Sunday, February 28, 2010
Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce: The pride and joy of a president, an instant classic
Let's look at the facts: According to Tabasco legend, Paul McIlhenny would only share this sauce with his family for some time; now, it's available in many places, though not as easy to find as it's thinner, redder cousin. Why is that? It may have something to do with the fact that the chipotle pepper, while loved by hot freaks and snobbish food-show types who like to use the word "infuse," is still often too damn hot for the regulars. The taste is something different than the French and European style aged vinegar sauces Tabasco is famous for; in fact, to look closer at this flavor, you have to look to Mexico and areas of South America, where red, ripe jalapenos were smoked over a fire and left to dry, creating the maroon/reddish brown, wrinkly pepper we've come to know and love. This sauce is really special for Tabasco for a couple reasons: 1.) it tastes incredible, and that's always special, and 2.) the texture of the sauce is different than what they usually do; this sauce is noticeably thicker and heartier. In fact, if it were a little thicker, one might be inclined to use it like you would a salsa or bean dip. Yes, this one's a real champion.
Good Hurts: Tabasco claims that this sauce is not too mild, not too hot; I think it could stand to be a little hotter. This chipotle pepper sauce is one that won't leave you face-down in a puddle of milk with urine stained pants and no memory of how you got there. A raw chipotle (or one that cones in the delicious cans of adobo sauce--highly recommended) is pretty hot...one that will no doubt see you sweatin' and shakin'. This sauce will leave a lingering burn on your lips and the tip of your tongue, but by no means is it an enveloping or serious heat. The problem is this: while this sauce is meant to be flavorful, it's not a sauce designed to rest on the laurels of taste alone. It should be a little hotter, because a chipotle sauce should be hot like a chipotle pepper unless otherwise noted.
Small complaints about an awesome sauce, I know...but little things can chip away at what otherwise may be flawless.
Flavor: This sauce is a BBQ lover's real dream companion; the bottle makes sure you see the prominent repetition of the word SMOKED across the top. Onion powder, garlic, and hints of sugar round out a flavor not unlike the delicious, full-bodied smell of a campfire. Vinegar and red pepper go into the mix; a lot of the ingredients have overlap with BBQ sauce. The difference here is that this thicker sauce is still much thinner than salsa or molassas/ketsup like BBQ. It's Tabasco's best sauce, full of rich and subtle flavors, all enjoyable. Major kudos to this one, especially for whomever had the foresight to push their company in such an interesting direction with new stuff like this.
Availability: It's easy to find with most other Tabasco products (read: everywhere, all the time), but they say something interesting they can actually back up: if you can't find it, request it at a location and they'll find a way to get it to you. Tabasco is a master of distribution, so they really can ship sauces to local markets that carry their products pretty much at (your) will.
Good for: The smokey flavor of a chipotle is friends with any chef for a reason: it's unique, hot, and compliments such a wide range of foods. I think Tabasco is on to something when they say to use it like a marinade for grilled veggies and meats. Also, because this sauce is sweeter and not too hot, it's a good additive to bean or chili dishes without being too overpowering. If you want a taste of the chipotle pepper that works well for pretty much anyone, this should be your go-to Tabasco sauce. If I were them, history be damned, I'd push this sauce as hard as their original.
My Review: 8.9
In a proper chipotle sauce, heat should be showcased a little more. However, this bold (literally) experiment in branching out is nothing short of a monumental triumph. This is a must-have sauce for your pantry!