Friday, July 13, 2012

Dennis' Key Lime BBQ Sauce and the Tostada of my Dreams By: Byanne Salazar

Dennis' Key Lime BBQ Sauce courtesy of Hot Licks®
Pucker up buttercups, the sauce you see before you is going to turn on your tongue sprinklers! At first glance this looks like your typical Kansas-city style BBQ sauce with a pretty tropical label. I wasn't sure how key limes and tomato paste would turn out, but our friend Dennis was on to something groovy with this mix.

Let's start with the smell. It is tangy! You're going to pick up the vibrant acids of vinegar and key lime, but surprise surprise - there's another tart note swirled throughout the luscious sauce, tamarind! 

If you've never heard of this sweet and sour fruit let me be the first to introduce you. Native to Africa and most widely used in South Asian and Mexican cooking, this brown, very sticky substance can waken any sleeping palate. In its unprocessed form, tamarind can be eaten straight out of the pod it grows in, and has a melted and mashed fruit leather texture. 

Processed, tamarind usually comes in frozen, seeded packages or in jars. A spoonful of tamarind stirred into a soup or a sauce will make a dramatic difference in the flavor profile, turning something bland to something quite vibrant. 

I was thrilled to see such an unusual BBQ ingredient mixed in this Key Lime Sauce. Surrounded by typical smoky notes often found in BBQ sauces, the acids were doing something funny in my nasal cavity. I had a whole lot of tingle action happening just from sniffing the stuff - I couldn't wait to slide it across my tongue to have a taste.

This sauce is like a fine wine. You need to really swirl it around your mouth to pick up all the different notes. There's tangy, sour, sweet, smoky all happening at once. If you're not used to big flavor, you may feel a little overwhelmed at first. But don't quit, keep going. There it is - that little hint of spice and warmth that creeps across your mouth and ties the whole thing together. 

It's good. It's different-good. And since I'm tired of same-good, this was a welcomed change.

But something was missing. Heat. Hot Licks® had sent me down a road of sizzle that turned my tongue into a pitch fork. I crave a kick and while this Key Lime BBQ Sauce had me at "Aloha," I wanted to find a way to tie-in a peppery pop that would seal the flavor deal for me.

Here's what I came up with; I hope you like it!  
Jerkish Pulled Chicken Tostada with Grapefruit-Fennel Slaw and Orange-Garlic-Poppy Seed Dressing

Jerkish Pulled Chicken:
1 cup of Dennis' Key Lime BBQ Sauce
1 cup of low sodium chicken stock
1 stick of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of thyme
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger (or 1 inch of peeled fresh ginger, finely minced)
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
*1 tablespoon of dried crushed chile peppers (This is optional. I like it spicy you can adjust this amount to suit your personal taste. If you like mild-medium heat, I recommend using 1/2 of a tablespoon instead.)
1 tablespoon of honey
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (you can substitute 8 thighs for breasts if you like)
Salt to taste (I didn't use any, you may want to add a few pinches)

Grapefruit Fennel Slaw:
1 large grapefruit zested and juiced (reserve the zest for the Orange-Garlic-Poppy Seed Dressing below!)
2 cups of shredded cabbage (You can use a prepackaged mix or shred it yourself. I used a cup of freshly shredded green and a cup of freshly shredded purple cabbages)
1 medium fennel bulb, stems and core removed, shredded
1 tablespoon of fennel fronds (the thin green leaves!) minced
1 cup of Orange-Garlic-Poppy Seed Dressing

Orange Garlic Poppy Seed Dressing:
3/4 cup Best Foods Mayo
1/4 cup pulp free freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of 1 grapefruit
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (I used a garlic press so there were no chunks!)
1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

6-10 corn tostada shells
freshly sliced red onion (for garnish)
freshly chopped cilantro (for garnish)

In a large pot or your slow cooker add all of the ingredients listed for the Jerkish Pulled Chicken. If using a crock pot, set it to high for three hours of cook time, or low for six to eight hours of cook time (whichever works for your schedule). If using a pot, place a tight fitting lid on and turn your stove to medium high. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook with the lid on for an hour. 
Jerkish Pulled Chicken made with Dennis' Key Lime BBQ Sauce
Remove the chicken from the sauce and allow to cool. Turn the heat on the sauce back up to medium high and allow it to reduce to half its volume. When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, use the tines of a fork to shred it. When your sauce has reduced, strain it to remove the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon stick before returning it to the pot. Add the shredded chicken. If you used the slow cooker, your sauce should have reduced and you will only need to break the chicken apart with the back of a firm spoon and stir. Manually remove the cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Keep the shredded meat on low/warm until service.

To make the slaw, combine the shredded fennel, shredded cabbage and fennel fronds in a large ziplock bag and add the grapefruit juice. Let the cabbage and fennel "marinade" in the juice in the bag on the counter while you whisk your dressing together.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients listed and whisk in a large bowl until smooth. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Place in a sealed container in the fridge until you are ready to use.

After the cabbage and fennel have marinated in the grapefruit juice for at least thirty minutes, stir in one cup of the Orange-Garlic-Poppy Seed dressing. Make sure it completely coats the cabbage and fennel. Seal up your ziplock and allow the slaw to sit in the fridge for at least an hour so the flavors can meld together. If you have time, make this the night before.

To serve:
Place a tostada shell on the plate and spoon two-three tablespoons of slaw on top. Add the same amount of shredded chicken as slaw on top. Garnish with sliced red onions and cilantro. This is a delicious dish, but also quite messy, so have lots of napkins handy. You can substitute the tostadas for soft mini-buns to make delicious Jerkish Chicken and Slaw Sliders.

Well - that's my recipe folks. I hope you enjoy it - I know we did! The word just came in from Hot Licks®; there is a special during the month of August on Dennis' Key Lime BBQ Sauce! Hurry and place your order while it lasts!

I am no ordinary foodie. I am borderline obsessive-compulsive when it comes to good food. I crave new flavor experiences, dream of ingredient combinations, get a thrill finding a great restaurant, and love to write about the whole experience.


  1. Bryanne,

    I'm so glad you liked my sauce. It is different than the stereotypical BBQ sauce. I loved the recipe you created and will definitely need to try it. Check out our other sauces, salsas, and ketchups on our website: I think you may really like the Mango Habanero or the Cherry Habanero.


    Dennis Reid
    Reva Foods

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I am so thrilled to hear from you! I agree - this sauce is BBQ Sauce with personality, no plain Janes here. I have a bottle of your Mango Habanero and am excited to try it. I will be sharing my experience via this blog as well as a unique recipe to utilize the sauce. If you get a chance to read it when it posts, please let me know what you think.

      Bryanne Salazar
      Food Blogger

  2. Bryanne,

    I will definitely be on the lookout for your Mango Habanero post. One way to try it is to chill it down and use it as cocktail sauce with shrimp. BTW, we made the Jerkish Chicken and it was excellent - great recipe.