Not too long ago, my sister Julie and her husband Kevin brought me back a great sauce from a recent trip to Austin. They lived there for awhile and told me some of the cool things to do and have always had a sense of the local scene where ever they happened to live – whether it’s Austin, Boston, or Philly. Anyway, this sauce has turned out to be one of my … no actually my all-time favorite mustard based BBQ sauce I’ve ever had.
Instead of simply mixing ketchup and mustard or tomato sauce and mustard, they went about things “Texas style” by going big or not going at all. The thick rich flavor of this stuff is really great and not overpowering at all, so if you are going to try this BBQ sauce, you better go big or not at all, because if you don’t have enough stuff cooked up, you just might regret it later.
Why “The Salt Lick?” A little history…
Taken from vendor website:
Thirty years ago, Thurman Roberts, Sr. and his wife Hisako T. Roberts started the Salt Lick Restaurant on the ranch where he was born. The stones of the building were quarried from that same ranch. Everything was done by them with their own hands; building and cooking with care and love, a pride in quality, and a job done right.
Family reunions provided them the opportunity to gather and share family BBQ recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation since the Civil War. Their meals were such a success; friends encouraged them to start their own restaurant. Opened for business in 1969, the Salt Lick has become world-renowned.
Since then, the Salt Lick has grown in size and scope. The restaurant facilities have been expanded. Rooms have been added to accommodate various functions. The Pavilion has been added just down the road so that many couples have started their married lives together with us. When the City of Austin built its new Austin Bergstrom International Airport, The Salt Lick was one of the few restaurants picked to represent what Austin dining is to the rest of the world.
A nice natural sweet mustard smell with a hint of mystery. I’d almost describe it as Drunken Mustard… there’s something mildly intoxicating about the combination of these fine flavors.
Excellent movement in the bottle. If this sauce was a beer, it would be a Guinness. If it were a salsa it would be the chunky stuff. The warning on the label says it all -
SHAKE WELL BEFORE EACH USE.
SEPARATION IS NORMAL.
This isn’t overstated, it’s simply fact that there’s enough salts and spices and specks floating around in the bottle to figure you are tasting something good, and real. It clings to the meat well, and in the case of my chicken and pork chops, it really did the trick clinging to the poultry and the pig.
Before Cooking Flavor
I dipped in a finger and pulled out a winner and it was more finger-licking good than anything that cheesy fried chicken chain could offer (although I do enjoy the KFC potato wedges). Mustardy sweet, with strong garlic/onion tinge and with enough Worcestershire to make for something a bit more complex. Worcestershire with its usually present helping of anchovies, effectively offlimits my wife, who’s been a vegetarian for about 15 years straight. Sometimes she tastes with me, but usually not.
After Cooking Flavor
Nicely retains flavor through the cooking process. In order to not waste too much I always recommend waiting until the tail 20% or so of the cooking, then submerge whatever you can find into this heavenly mixture. Sidenote – I find that mustard based sauces don’t “transform” like tomato-based sauces on the grill because of the heated tomato/sugar effect – which sometimes offers a somewhat new (caramelized?) flavor.
I’ll always considered subtracting points for including bad stuff and offered extra points for really good choices. But if this were a weighted-variable equation, taste and expectation of taste have always been ranked first on the list and the nutrition aspects have been dead last but it’s always worth mentioning. In the case of Salt Lick, they’ve got a nice simple list of ingredients, which is always nice.
Soybean Oil, Cane Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Prepared Mustard (various sub ingredients), Worcestershire Sauce (various sub inggreidents), Salt, Spices, Xanthum Gum.
The only thing I will mention is that mustard based sauces – especially this one with a hefty helping of soybean oil – tend to be higher in fat than their traditional tomato-based friends. But sauces are supposed to be flavorful and tasty, right? Right. “Diet sauces” are stupid – an oxymoron if you will, but I strongly believe that smart, high quality ingredient choices are always a great idea and will pay in the long run unless you are producing a million bottles of your sauce.
Marketing and Packaging
It’s hard for me to pick on the sauce in this department having not been to Austin or the famous Salt Lick restaurant for which the sauce originated. It’s an insiders sauce and I could find anything particularly egregious or pretentious on the bottle. So it scores big.