My first taste of Batten Island Gourmet Sauce was pleasantly surprising. I reached for the sauce amid various other boastful hot sauce bottles one night when we were having chili. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I admit I may have judged this sauce by its label. On it was an alligator stirring a cauldron over an open fire. It was the only one that didn’t use the devil or the wild west to illustrate its contents.
I dabbed a bit onto my finger first, and after a taste, realized that it’s a heck of a lot more than a hot sauce. There’s some heat, but not enough to deter those who hate spicy food. There’s also some sweet, some fruity, some spicy, some tangy…I looked at the ingredient list: raisins, dates, prunes, apple, pears, papaya, mango, habanero and cayenne, brown sugar, exotic herbs and spices, among others. The only things not listed were preservatives or artificial colors. It’s one of those sauces that you keep having to taste just to guess what’s in it.
Batten Island Trading, Inc. produces three levels of the sauce: mild, hot and extra hot. Amazingly, the increase in heat doesn’t take away from the flavor like most hot sauces do. That could be why Batten Island Gourmet sauce isn’t high up there on the intensity scale, but I wouldn’t sacrifice that well rounded flavor for a kick in the mouth. The sauce is produced in Jacksonville, Fla, which explains the alligator and palm trees on the label. It’s named after a tiny island there. It’s available for purchase online by the bottle or by the case.
There’s more you can do with this sauce besides liven up chili or a taco. The Batten Island Gourmet website includes some recipes and also recommends using the sauce as a marinade on steak, pork, poultry, wild game and seafood. I’ve found myself adding it to bland tomato-based sauces for instant flavor. It’s right up there with Sweet Baby Ray’s and Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (that cheap, Chinese hot sauce in the red bottle, green top and rooster on the front). It’s one of those sauces you just squirt onto everything bland to make it taste better. Which is why we’re giving some away!
To enter the Batten Island Sauce Giveaway, you must:
Alexia Detweiler is a freelance writer and locavore who loves spicy food, especially curry.