We're big fans of Cook's Illustrated and its TV show, America's Test Kitchen. We were charter subscribers to the original Cook's Illustrated, which died an untimely death. We think that Fine Cooking actually channeled the original Cook's, but that doesn't take away from the great cooking advice found at the current Cook's media empire outlets.
A recent review by the Cook's crew reminded us of our strong opinions about hot sauce. We're always up for trying any kind of hot sauce that lands on the counter or table in front of us. Many years ago we even made a pilgrimage to the island in Louisiana where they grow and produce Tabasco sauce.
But since that time and for many, many years we've avoided the omnipresent Tabasco as a condiment in our cooking. We found it too hot to taste the flavor. Not that we mind really hot. We don't. But it was just difficult to get through the heat to get to any flavor enhancement for food.
When Cook's ran a blind tasting of hot sauces, its panel found the same thing. The famous one was too watery but exhibited too little flavor to taste.
The winner? Two sauces. First: Frank's RedHot Original Hot Sauce. Not searingly hot, but a bit of tomato flavor coming through with the cayenne peppers and vinegar. We agree. It's a great sauce to add heat AND flavor to dishes.
Second: La Preferida Louisiana Hot Sauce. Hotter, for sure, but also very tasty. The judges split on these two great additives. The panel members who like more spice and heat voted for La Preferida. The judges who wanted more flavor liked Frank's.