Had a cancelled appointment so I got time to post today. So here’s the updates……
Tasting notes: I was having a lot of trouble verifying the paprika/ancho chili powder in the samples. So what I did was replace the ancho with paprika, then tripled the spice ratio so that there was enough of the seasoning in the sauce to stand out. It became very obvious that paprika isn’t used in place of the ground ancho in the RT sauce.
The flavor was completely wrong. But if it was all that you had on hand, it still makes a very good sauce. I actually still think that a 50/50 of ancho and paprika makes a better sauce.
Once it got down to the nitty-gritty, I had to place the dried herbs on my tongue and allow it to hydrate and chew the leaf and then compare it to the tiny herb particles washed from the sauce. The taste of the dry herbs on the tongue was pretty nasty, it’s way too bitter, but it was the only way I was going to isolate and discover what the subtle herbs in this sauce were. I’m glad I was able trudge through the process, because I learned a lot. I compared initial flavor which is usually the same as the aroma, then the finish, what areas in the oral cavity were stimulated (which is hard to explain without a diagram) and finally comparing the hydrated herb color.Found During Washing:Mexican Oregano
: HOT Most dominate herb flavor in sauce. Dark herb, initial flavor matches aroma; finishes with flavor identical to black pepper with identical heat stimulating the same areas on tongue. It’s actually has a good amount of “kick”. I wasn’t aware of a “HOT herb”. Initially I was mistaking the small dark particles as coarse black pepper. Brands that worked are McCormick Gourmet and El Guapo. Dried Savory
: Second most dominate herb flavor sauce. Brands that worked McCormick Professional and McCormick Gourmet ground savory (told by spice merchandiser that it has been discontinued).Dried Thyme
: I obviously had the most trouble with this one, since it’s the final herb. I really couldn’t taste or smell it until I started using it in the sauce. Washing found stems and blossom heads. Be careful with brands, I purchased an off-brand and it was so potent that it smelled just like spic and span floor cleaner.
I do not know if this was because it was a different genus of thyme or if it was just old. I just know this wasn’t right for the sauce.Dried Parsley
: I found very minute amounts. Initial flavor is bland and bitter but finishes with subtle black pepper, anise and citrusy notes it’s also a bit reminiscent of tarragon
. If adding to current dry mix you’ll need 1/32 tsp.Granulated Garlic
TANGY/ZESTY Granulated garlic is easily tasted and seen dispersed throughout the sauce. Garlic has also been quoted from RT sauce ingredients. I personally haven’t found any significant differences between brands but do make sure that you’re using granulated and not powdered garlic.Black Pepper
: HOT I didn’t find the black pepper until the sauce was washed and strained with a liner. The black pepper is actually a very fine grind
. The pepper is harder than the herbs and crunches between the teeth.The Rest of the Spices and Herbs:Ancho
provides the primary chili element with just the tiniest hint of smoky raisin. Smoky in this case isn’t smoke-flavor like you find with Chipotle or McCormick Gourmet Ancho.Ground Cumin
, PUNGENT if you can find it, should be fresh, not toasted, and have a green hue, not sandy brown or worse dark brown. It should have a clean chili con carne flavor, more aromatic than pungent and more sweet than bitter.Bay Leaf
: PUNGENT Bay should smell like sweet lemon and a bit clove-like
. I couldn’t confirm the bay leaf by visual inspection. If you choose to omit this, replace with sweet paprika. I am using McCormick ground bay. I recommend not grinding your own bay leaves. It is difficult to grind them fine enough but if you choose to do so you will need 12 small bay leaves to equal 1 tsp ground bay. Cayenne
HOT There are several different peppers that may be labeled as Cayenne. Make sure that your paprika has the aroma of hot peppers and not like sweet ripe red bell peppers.Ground Coriander Seed
: AMALGAMATING/SWEET Coriander is probably the most important spice, enhances and marries all the other spices. Aroma is earthy with lemony-orange citrus notes. Or to quote my son “Hey! This smells just like “fruit loops”.
Dried cilantro is not an acceptable substitute.Ground Fennel Seed
: AMALGAMATING/SWEET The flavor of the fennel is easily picked out in the RT sauce. It’s also the primary contributor to the sweet flavor in the sauce. Fennel also enhances and marries all the other spices just not in the same way as the coriander.Citric Acid
TANGY/ZESTY Can be omitted if using Hunts improved tomato paste, but if you find that the flavor is lacking for your tastes, you’ll want to hunt this down. (AKA Sour salt). Found in canning/pickling supplies, spice isles, or specialty cake and candy supply stores.Demerara Sugar
here is a link http://chickensintheroad.com/blog/2009/01/11/natural-sugars/
for those who are wondering what this is. I found mine more economically in bulk bins. I have not tried the turbinado/Sugar In The Raw in place of the demerara. But the demerara sugar I have is lighter like the turbinado sugar at this link. So it may have been mislabeled. Mine doesn’t have a pronounced molasses flavor, and the sweetness is not sharp like granulated cane sugar (like the difference between table salt and kosher salt). I’ve already mentioned that brown sugar has too much molasses flavor.