Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ Sauce

A few weeks ago, the sun came out, the clouds went away, and Spring was declared (where is that Spring now?). This meant out building patio opened up and I could finally get some grilling done. I wasn't the first to the grill, but I was the last in the fall.

It was also time to do some spring cleaning. In the freezer were boneless chicken thighs, chicken wings, Brussels sprouts. We had some prosciutto and jalapeno peppers. There was lots to make up a little feast. I also had a special bottle of BBQ sauce sitting on the shelf, burning a whole in my taste buds for quite a while.

It was a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, which isn't common round these parts (Canada), and it was 'reduced' by 50% - what a steal! I've heard a lot of good things about Baby Ray's sauce, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out.

What I didn't realize was that the sauce was SBR's Honey BBQ sauce, which wasn't a problem by any means, but due to poor sale labeling, I didn't fully understand what I was getting. So I added to the above photo what the bottle should look like.

"It all began back in 1985 when a local Chicago boy named Chef Larry perfected his family’s recipe for a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce and entered it into the country’s largest rib cook-off, the Mike Royko Rib-off. Chef Larry called his sauce Sweet Baby Ray’s after his little brother David, who got the nickname shootin’ hoops on the west side of Chicago. On the day of the rib-off, Sweet Baby Ray’s beat nearly 700 entrants to come in second - an amazing feat for an unknown. The rest, as they say, is history. " (Source)

The ingredients weren't terribly special. HFCS big time. This was not going to be a spicy/heat sauce at all. I expected sweet going in. The ingredients that stood out from the label that caught my attention were pineapple juice, natural smoke flavour and tamarind. But honey was 4th on the list, which was a little disconcerting.

Out on the terrace I opened the bottle. I was going to be brushing this on the chicken, but I want to sample a little of the sauce first.

There wasn't anything special in the appearance of SBR. It looked like commercial grade sauce. Thick, reddish brown and smelling pretty sweet. The raw taste was . . . pretty simple BBQ sauce. Sweet, and that was about it. I decided to wait to see after grilling to make my judgement.

I split the wings (but kept the tips on). I had both wings and thighs and I had them soak in a brine for a while. After draining the wings, I rubbed them in a bit of olive oil and 'Cajun' seasoning. Then onto the grill.

The heat was high, using lump charcoal, on a grill that sits in a brick U, with no lid and no where near my home base for reinforcements. I had to make room for all the other food I was cooking. Like some high-falutin' jalapenos.

Using up leftovers, these jalapenos were filled with cheddar cheese, laughing cow cheese, some more Cajun seasoning, then wrapped with the prosciutto. They cooked up in no time and were easier to deal with than regular bacon-wrapped jalapenos.

I took them off and put on some Brussels sprouts (tossed in oil and salt and pepper). These were frozen from a bag, but after a bit of a thaw they cooked well near the back with more indirect heat.
After the wings and chicken were pretty much cooked, I started brushing on the sauce. Maybe the secret to the sauce would be some charcoal heat.

It did not want to stick to the chicken. The sauce just kept oozing right off. Perhaps I could have tossed the wings and thighs then returned it to the grill. But this is a Kansas City style sauce, so its not so much about getting into the meat as coating the outside.

So how did it all turn out? Let me talk about the sides first.

I try to like vegetables, really I do. I try hard to like Brussels sprouts, but no deal. I ate 2 or three and things were all right, but the same problem that always happens; gag reflex. My body is telling me what my mind always knew, Brussels sprouts are gross. Prosciutto poppers? Also not for me. I'm not a huge fan of prosciutto, and while the jalapeno and cheese worked well, I will stick to traditional bacon next time.

Lesson learned? I don't like foods I don't like, even if I try them different ways. I know, it's not rocket science. But I least I tried.

What about the wings and thighs? Well the chicken turned out well enough. The thighs would go on to make a BBQ chicken salad for a few days to come. The wings were a little different.

I wasn't crazy about the sauce. It wasn't any better than Kraft or other generic sauce. I found it didn't really compliment the wings. With the leftover wings (and that should say something) I ended up re-heating them and then tossing in a hot sauce mixture which was more enjoyable.

FINAL SCORE: If you are looking for thick, sweet sauce, this is for you. The sauce didn't strike me as unique or special. I admit that after a few days sitting in the refrigerator I appreciated it more, but I wouldn't bother with it again. 50% off or not. 1.5/3

Sweet Baby Rays Gourmet Sauces


Chris said...

Yeah, I don't care for their honey one either. I used to get their regular sauce because it was the best of the grocery store brands (

But now that Food City has started carrying Blues Hog sauces, forget it.

Teena in Toronto said...

Looks like quite a feast!