State of Sauce
Alabama-made sauces perk up meats, veggies and more
Even most novice cooks know that marinades and sauces are easy and effective ways to amp up the flavor factor of a variety of foods. Meats, seafood and veggies all benefit from a pre-cooking soak and a slather, sprinkle or dip afterwards.
Lots of folks like to make their own, but there are plenty of Alabama-made products to choose from, too. These tasty options range from classics like salty steak saturators to innovative creations that rely on more exotic influences. Here are a few favorites from around the state.
Since he was old enough to eat table food, Jim Berdeaux has been enjoying the thick, tangy steak sauce and the tomato-based, slightly sweet barbecue sauce his grandfather whipped up when he was the chef at Montgomery’s Pickwick Café in the 1940s.
“We made his sauces for every family get-together, and when I was in the paper business, I started making them and giving jars to clients as gifts,” he says. Once the sauces were tasted outside of the Berdeaux family, the positive response was overwhelming.
When he retired from the Air Force, Jim decided to base a business on the recipes (and the clamoring requests for them) and created Berdeaux’s Sauces in 2010. The company is based in Montgomery, and the sauces are made in Chancellor, Ala.
Today, in addition to the steak and barbecue sauces, Berdeaux’s produces Sweet Island Dipping Sauce, a lively blend of pineapple and pungent horseradish. All the sauces are completely natural, with no MSG, high-fructose corn syrup or liquid smoke, a point Jim’s really proud of. “My sauces’ purity is what makes us stand out,” he said. “You can taste the difference.”
Get some: At shows and special events around the South, specialty stores in central Alabama like Derk’s Filet & Vine, Queen’s Steaks ‘N Wines, Tucker Pecan and more and online at berdeauxsauces.com.
Pilleteri’s Liquid Marinade was born out of necessity. The patrons of owner Charles Pilleteri’s Birmingham butcher shop and deli, Mr. P’s, wanted something to flavor the steaks and chops they bought from him, and so he created a dry seasoning blend and then a robust marinade based on the same flavors.
“The original inspiration came from a Montgomery butcher shop that’s now closed, but I modified the recipe and added my own spin,” he says. The dark marinade is low in sodium (only 17 percent), yet it has just the right sharp, salty punch, with notes of garlic, black pepper and Worcestershire too. Charles has since added other sauces (hot sauce and wing sauce) and products like rubs and seasonings, but the original marinade is still his bestseller. He’s now also distributing other Alabama-made sauces, like Ollie’s Bar-B-Q sauce.
Get some: at Mr. P’s Butcher Shop and Deli, 813 Shades Crest Road in Birmingham; select Publix, Food Giant and Piggly Wiggly locations; and online at pilleteri.com.
Super Turnip Green
Super Turnip Green Pepper Sauce is one-upping the bottles of soggy, faded-green peppers that are standard sights on tables at Southern restaurants. With its Serrano pepper base, it’s sweet on the front end, combusts with a pop of well-rounded heat in the middle and ends with a blast of vinegar zipping across your tongue, combining the sensations into an unforgettable bite.
The sauce’s namesake and mascot, a Southern hero named Super Turnip Green (STG) – who sports overalls and a full-face mask – is just as memorable, and that’s by design, as Drew Folsom, owner of the Birmingham-based company (and STG’s “agent”), explains.
“The sauce is all about a love of South, Southern foods and the country lifestyle, and STG embodies that. He’s a good ole country boy with just a little edge.”
Legend says the sauce recipe is STG’s, but that he wanted to keep his identity a secret, so he gave it to Folsom to bottle and sell. True or not, one thing is certain: Just a few dashes of this concoction added to anything from greens and peas to fish and fried chicken (STG’s favorite way to use it) will wake up your food’s flavor potential.
STG just launched a new product, Super Turnip Green Presents: Colt Ford Pepper Sauce, a fiery, full-bodied liquid created by country music artist Colt Ford.
Get some: in select Winn-Dixie, Piggly Wiggly and Western Supermarkets in Central Alabama and Publix locations in and around Birmingham. Check your local store too; STG is currently expanding distribution.
In tiny New Hope in north Alabama, Steve Howton has been playing with spice combos and cooking up his Howton Farm’s sauces since 2003. He’s worked in construction for years but was always making his own barbecue sauce.
And he still is; while he has a “day job,” he makes every batch of his savory sidekick for slow-smoked meats as well as his newer offering, a zesty, ginger-infused, sesame-seed-studded Salmon & Sushi Sauce (which also adds pizazz to chicken) by hand, using the best ingredients he can find.
“Lots of folks ‘cheap out’ in the sauce industry, but the product suffers when you do that,” he says. “That’s why I’ve kept everything in my control, so I can ensure the quality is high.” Check out his selection of dry seasonings too.
Get some. Order at howtownfarms.com or on eBay.
Moore’s Marinades & Sauces
The smoky, piquant jolt of Moore’s Original Marinade has been charming taste buds for a long time, starting with diners at Moore’s Landing restaurant in Jasper, who couldn’t get enough of the house marinade and started buying it by the Styrofoam-cup-full to take home.
The eatery closed years ago, but thanks to the LaRussa family, who purchased the restaurant’s recipe, the name and taste live on in Moore’s Marinades & Sauces, the company they founded in Birmingham. Today, Moore’s has expanded to include three marinades and six wing sauces that are distributed nationwide.
The company’s brand manager, Garland Reich, outlined what she thinks has fueled its success and continued growth. “We are a family-owned company, and we make real Southern products,” she says. “Moore’s really captures the flavor of the South.”
While the marinade that built the company is still beloved, Moore’s most popular product (out of nine) is its Buffalo Wing Sauce, a pout-puckering, blazing orange elixir that will electrify your mouth.
Get some: in major grocery stores around the country.
More to love
Alabama’s a pretty saucy state, boasting so many homegrown sauces we can’t adequately cover them all in one article. Here are a few other condiment companies worth checking out. Learn more about them and where to get them on their websites.
Sweet Melissa’s spicy sauces, Birmingham
Alabama Sunshine hot sauces, Fayette
T-Lish dressings and marinades, Birmingham
SlapHappy BBQ Sauce, Birmingham
Daddy Natty’s Bar-B-Q Sauce, Birmingham
Sneaky Pete’s hot dog sauce, Birmingham
Simmering Sensation Cooking Sauces, Killen
Jala Jala BBQ Sauces, Huntsville
Dale’s Seasoning sauce, Birmingham
In recent years, Alabama has become known for its barbecue, including the sauces served in some of our most storied ‘cue institutions. With a just a few clicks and a credit card, you can have them shipped right to you and add the work of masters to your creations.
Costa’s Famous Bar-B-Q,
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q,
Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q,
Full Moon Bar-B-Que,
Jim N’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q,