By MADOLINE MARKHAM
When Martin Brooks first concocted his mustard-based barbecue sauce, so many people who tasted it said, “Ooo, dat’s good,” that the name stuck. Years later, the longtime Homewood resident and former restaurateur bottles and sells the all-natural sauce and a new seasoning and rub to sell in Homewood and beyond.
The spicy-sweet sauce is designed to be put on meat after cooking. As the sauce’s tag line suggests, you’ll want to sop up every last bit of it with bread.
“We recommend it for pork or ribs,” said Mike Barnett, owner of Alabama Gas Light and Grill, “but I like it on hot dogs more than on anything else because the bun sops it up.”
Brooks prides the sauce and rub on being low sodium and low calorie with neither MSG food additive nor corn syrup.
“It’s the best stuff out there; plus, Martin’s one of our neighbors,” said Peter Neuberger, who lives near Brooks in the Hollywood area and uses the sauce regularly. “It has the right taste without overwhelming the meat.” He likes to use it on chicken, ribs, barbecue, hamburgers and anything else that goes on the grill.
Neuberger also brings bottles of the sauce when he visits friends and family. “Some people bring a bottle of wine,” he said, “I bring a bottle of barbecue sauce.”
Brooks first started making barbecue sauce when he moved to Birmingham in 1978. He developed and tweaked this mustard-based recipe over the years to give to family and friends and used it to top the meats he smoked at home.
A Homewood resident for more than 20 years, Brooks owned New York Pizza and then Camellia Café before venturing into creating a food product line. “The sauce was a hobby; now it’s full-time,” he said.
The sauce went on the market five years ago and the rub earlier this year.
Most barbecue sauces use corn syrup as a sweetener, and you can find only one or two barbecue sauces without preservatives on a typical grocery store aisle. Dat Good is an exception. It’s packed with flavor from tomato puree, honey, vinegar, molasses, sugar, paprika, garlic, onion, tumeric and just enough salt that it doesn’t leave you asking for more flavor.
“You don’t need more salt because meat already has salt in it,” Brooks said.
As for the rub, the first ingredient is brown sugar, and you taste the sweetness with the kick of cayenne pepper. Brooks worked with a friend, a Louisiana tailgater Brooks described as a “spice doctor,” to develop the formula for the rub.
“Most rubs are nothing but salt,” he said. Dat Good only has 130 grams per serving.
Brooks said you can use the rub to sauté onions and peppers for an omelet, to add flavor to scrambled eggs or tilapia, to caramelize onions to put in baked beans—virtually anything.
The best way to grow a following for the sauce is of course for people to taste it. Brooks pulls a display cart out of his black minivan at grocery stores and lets people taste the sauce on potatoes and the rub by dipping their finger in it.
“Teenagers in the store love it,” he said.
Brooks is also working on a Dijon cream sauce to market next. “My goal is to have one product of my line in every aisle of the store,” he said.
Dat Good sauce and rubs are available in Homewood at the Jack Rabbit Texaco, Brookwood Shell station, Alabama Gas Light and Grill, Pierce-Tabor Paint, Alabama Goods and Piggly Wiggly. You can also find it at Whole Foods and Western and other Piggly Wiggly locations in Birmingham or order it online through www.datgood.com. Businesses can contact Brooks at email@example.com if they are interested in selling or serving the products.