You can't deny that this is one of the most successful barbecue sauces on the competition circuit. With 8 American Royal Championships, this sauce has been bringing home the trophies for Chris Marks and the Three Little Pigs competition team for two decades. Despite all the renown, this is a classic tomato based sauce starting with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, seasonings, and smoke. It is the balance of flavors that is the genius of this sauce. Thick enough to stay put, thin enough to pour, even when cold, this really is a fantastic barbecue sauce.
Chris Marks is the inheritor of the Three Little Pig barbecue competition team and the recipe for this sauce. He has used this sauce for twenty years and it has helped bring his team 8 American Royal grand championships and one Jack Daniels World Championship. Three Little Pigs is a family team and Chris works it with his Mom and Son.
Like most all great barbecue sauces, you can't find this one at your local grocery store. If you are lucky it might show up in your area but chances are you will have to order it online. Hit the link above and you will find out how to get a hold of this great barbecue sauce.
I said this was a basic sauce. The ingredients list reads: Ketchup, molasses, sugar, water, cayenne mash, garlic, white vinegar, dark brown sugar, smoke flavoring, Worcestershire sauce. This is the kind of recipe you would think you could whip up in your kitchen and if you are really good you just might. It is a sweet sauce with just a light burn from the cayenne mash. This is probably the linking ingredients and what gives this sauce its magic.
If you looked through the ingredients you will notice that this sauce has four kinds of sugars. The ketchup is going to contain some kind of corn sweeteners (most likely the high fructose type). In addition you have sugar, molasses and dark brown sugar. These give the sauces its depth. There is a richness to the sweet that you just can't get from plain sugar. Of course it is a mild richness that pure molasses or brown sugar would overpower.
I really think that the key flavor in this is they cayenne mash. You could simply put in Tabasco for heat but you wouldn't get the pepper flavor or the almost purely background heat that this sauce has. Pure heat hits the tongue hard. This heat sneaks up from the back. It isn't a hot sauce by any means (There is a HOT version of this sauce that is also excellent). The heat in this sauce is a baked in kind of heat. Straight from the bottle you would hardly know it, but when you cook with this sauce the heat concentrates a little give you that perfect back of the tongue hot after taste.
All in all the flavor of this sauce is conservative. Not that there isn't enough, but the balance of sweet (sugars), sour (vinegar and Worcestershire sauce), heat (cayenne mash) and smoke is simply perfect.
There are no artificial colors in this sauce yet it is the perfect color. The rich reddish brown is just the kind of sauce you want. The color holds up under heat and gives barbecue meats that expected richness.
There are no thickeners in this sauce, but it has the perfect consistency. You can pour it easily from the bottle straight out of the refrigerator, and yet it sits right where you want it and is thick enough to hold onto a rack of ribs in a hot smoker.
The smell of the sauce is a nondescript perfect. It doesn't have that "BBQ" smell that the big name bottles have that they get from all kinds of artificial flavorings and "smoke" additives. This sauce smells like its ingredients that is just the way it is supposed to be.