Chicken-Bacon Barbeque Kebabs + Review of KC Masterpiece Barbeque Sauce

In July I received a bottle of KC Masterpiece Southern Style barbeque sauce in the mail to try. This was just in time for the 4th of July, but unfortunately I had some sort of stomach illness and didn't do much eating around that time. The sauce quickly became pushed to the back of the pantry and I forgot about it. I resurrected it this weekend, however, because I knew I needed to test it out and do a review. I appreciate the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program for sending me this sauce and below you can see my honest review.

I should first probably say that I am a huge fan of barbeque. I have tasted some from the major regions in the US and have now lived in two major hubs for barbecue (Texas and Georgia). My favorite is Texas barbeque, mainly because of beef brisket, but being from Indiana it seems like the barbeque I grew up eating was sort of Kansas City style, which is really tomato-y, and I love it too.

When I first received the bottle, I made the mistake-mainly out of habit-of reading the ingredients on the back. They certainly are an interesting melange! The ones I consider "odd" for a barbeque sauce were anchovies and tamarind. I do understand why they are there: the anchovies provide a long-cooked meat "umami" flavor and the tamarind provides tang, which is classical in southern style sauce but is usually provided through apple cider vinegar and sometimes yellow mustard (primarily Carolina-style sauce uses mustard). I was personally bothered by the high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid at all costs because it is a highly processed food. I am not that surprised to see it there because it is much less expensive to use HFCS than brown sugar and molasses (though some molasses was used). Judging from the rest of the ingredients-molasses, tomato, apple cider vinegar-and thin texture of the sauce, I think they were aiming for a Georgia-style barbeque sauce, so that's what I will review it as.

The aroma I perceived upon opening the bottle was straight Worchestershire sauce. No molasses, ketchup, or cider vinegar, which is what I anticipated. When I tasted it alone, I first felt the heat of red chilis, then Worchestershire flavor. Again, no molasses, ketchup, or cider vinegar. I also noted the texture was more like a glaze, not pureed tomato or thin ketchup, which is also what I anticipated.

The back of the bottle said best for chicken and pork, so for my recipe, I chose something simple so I could really taste the unadulterated flavor of the sauce: kebabs of chicken, bacon, and onion.  Finally, when it came to application of the sauce, I used Steven Raichlen's rules-he's my favorite barbeque tv chef. Basically, you apply the sauce on the cooked side of the meat not only to prevent cross contamination of your basting brush and sauce but also to prevent the sugars in the sauce from burning. Well, the sauce was pretty slippery stuff and didn't cling to the chicken kebabs. Rather, it slid through any cracks and landed on the pan. It didn't thicken on the meat when I allowed the meat to finish cooking through. The sauce wasn't so thin that I couldn't taste it on the meat, but it didn't taste like any sauce I had when I was in Georgia. It didn't taste bad, but certainly did not taste authentic. I wonder if it may taste different on long-roasted, slow-cooked meats.

Final remarks:

Pros: The sauce made my kebabs nice and glossy, and I might add, attractive-looking. It had flavor notes that paired well with the meat and onions, namely the hint of spiciness contrasted with the sweetness of the onions, flavored the chicken, and did not overshadow the bacon. The thin texture was authentic to Georgia-style sauce.

Cons: The viscosity of the sauce was authentic, but did not "stick" to the food as well as other barbeque sauces I have used and tasted. A lot of the sauce dripped off onto the pan. When I think of southern-style sauce, I think of a thin but cooked down tomato puree sauce that is sweet from brown sugar and/or molasses but still tart with apple cider vinegar. When I first tasted this sauce, the first flavor note was red pepper, then Worchestershire sauce (as a matter of fact, the only thing I smelled when I opened the bottle was Worchestershire sauce). The sauce was a little sweet, but it did not taste like the sauces I had at any of the barbeque places I ate at while I lived in Georgia. The Georgia barbeque sauce I had tasted like ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, and sometimes mustard. I wouldn't say this sause was "jam-packed" with flavor as it didn't provide a dense or intense flavor to the meat. Other than the chili kick, the flavor was rather light, making it a little unbalanced.

Bottom line: The thin texture of southern barbeque sauce was accomplished, but in terms of flavor and fragrance I think this sauce misses the mark on "southern style."  It proved to be a decent glaze for grilled chicken and did taste good, but I would not suggest this sauce to anyone wanting to do some serious southern style/Georgia style barbequing.

I would, however, prepare these kebabs again because they were really easy to put together and didn't take a lot of ingredients. Using two skewers make these kebabs look impressive and solved the problem of the meat spinning around one skewer as you turn them. Despite their simplicity, they look impressive and would really make a show at a grilling get together. The bacon added some fat to the lean and otherwise bland chicken breast. My favorite part was the onions, which became soft, caramelized, and crispy on the edges. I would just prepare my own homemade sauce...

And just a note on the bacon. I have never posted a recipe on Chow Bella using bacon before, except pancetta, if you count that. Being as I am the type of person who reads ingredients, out of curiosity I compared the macronutrients in turkey bacon and center cut bacon, and the fat and calorie counts were nearly identical! Just comparing the looks of pork bacon vs. turkey bacon, I bet the pork bacon is less processed, which is always better. Of course many people are advised against eating bacon by their doctors prefer bacon that is center-cut, which has more lean meat than fat, sourced from animals not treated with antibiotics, and nitrite-free. With that I think it can be fine in my diet.

Chicken-Bacon Barbeque Kebabs
Printable Recipe

8 kebab skewers (if wooden, soak in water at least 30 min before grilling)
1 lb chicken breast tenderloins, cut into 24 chunks
6 slices nitrite-free center cut bacon, each slice cut into 4 pieces
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-3/4-inch slices, two leaves thick (32 pieces)
4 tbsp barbeque sauce, or more to taste
lots of black pepper

1. Preheat grill or broiler.
2. Wrap each piece of chicken with a piece of bacon.
3. Hole two skewers about half an inch apart from one another. Take one section of onion and slide it across to make a ladder. Slide on one bacon-wrapped piece of chicken, then another stack of onion, then chicken and repeat until there are 6 pieces of chicken and 8 pieces of onion on each skewer. Sprinkle with black pepper (the bacon and sauce are salty enough). Do not pack the pieces on densely, otherwise the bacon will not crisp in the middle.
4. Grill or broil the meat until nearly cooked through and until the bacon is crisp, about 6-8 minutes total. Brush the sauce all along the surface and cook 1 minute more on each side. The meat should be opaque and the sauce cooked into the meat. If the skewers start to scorch, wrap aluminum foil around them. Serve while the meat is still skewered, or you can side it off onto a platter with the help of a fork.

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