7 local sauces to boost your at-home meals

Sauce can be the star of the show, the final flourish or the saving grace.
seven sauces created locally
Photo by Nikki Hansen

Sauces can’t stand alone, but when you add an extraordinary one, a mediocre dish completely transforms for the better. Sauce can be the star of the show, the final flourish or the saving grace. And these seven local purveyors make sure their sauces don’t blend into the background, but rather take a dish to the next level.

Touch of Spice
Southeast Asian cuisine is easy to make when using a sauce from Madame Chu. Josey Chu creates three sauces: sambal nyonya, ginger garlic and satay peanut nyonya. She says on her website that it can take hours or days to get the flavors right with traditional Southeast Asian cooking. When adding a bit of one of her sauces, the cooking process becomes effortless. he standout is sambal nyonya, which can add a sweet heat to any dish. Chu suggests pairing it with noodles, eggs, fish or chicken. The sauces are made using all-natural ingredients and seasonings and they’re based on Chu’s grandmother’s recipes.
Find It: madame-chu.com or Willy Street Co-op, Metcalfe’s Hilldale, Regent Market Co-op and christines-kitchens.com

Get Some Mojo
Add a bit of magic to your barbecue with locally made MoJo’s MaJik sauce. MoJo’s creates four sauces that elevate the essence of any dish. For sweeter barbecue, try My ‘Honey’; for something spicier go with ‘Blaze-N,’ which is packed with habanero peppers; and for a sweet and spicy blend, slather on The ‘Bold’ One sauce. If you’re trying Mojo for the first time, start with the Sweet ‘N’ Sassy sauce, the company’s original recipe. Mojo’s MaJik says the sauce starts with a quick dash of sweetness, then transitions into spicy. Mojo’s MaJik can be added to any grilled protein and will add a nice twist to a classic side.As its motto says, “If it’s not MoJo’s, there’s no MaJik.”
Find It: mojosmajik.net or Conscious Carnivore, Miller and Sons Supermarket in Verona, Metcalfe’s West Towne

plates of food using the sauces

Photographer Nikki Hansen created dishes using each sauce. 1. Madame Chu’s satay peanut nyonya 2. Mojo’s Majik Sweet ‘N’ Sassy 3. Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ’s RBQ 4. Flavor Temptations’ Chana Masala 5. Fraboni’s Spaghetti Sauce 6. Mango Man’s Monte Verde Salsa 7. Off the Block Salsa

Slab on the Sauce
Years before the restaurant came to be, Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ in Dodgeville was all about barbecue sauce. In the late 1980s the sauce was created and used for catering. Starting in 2011, it was bottled and sold, and the restaurant opened a year later. Choose from eight varieties that each bring something different to the table. For those wanting a kick, there are habanero, mango red pepper and honey chipotle varieties. More classic renditions include original and Carolina. But if you want something special, try RBQ, a Sprecher Root Beer Craft Soda-infused sauce, or BrewBQ, created with New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Spotted Cow. If you don’t feel like making the trip to Dodgeville, all eight sauces can be shipped right to your door.
Find It: 167 N. Iowa St., Dodgeville, 930-2227, bobsbitchinbbq.com or Madison Hy-Vee locations, Ken’s Meats & Deli in Monona and Carr Valley Cheese stores

Creating Curry
Dynamic duo Sara Parthasarathy and Partha Sabniviss create curry spice packets and masala curry sauces to bring Indian flavors to every kitchen through Flavor Temptations. All the seasonings are included, so all you have to do is follow the instructions. Three Flavor Temptations sauces are available: butter chicken, chicken tikka masala and veggie korma. While two of the recipes are geared toward chicken, you can use the sauces with any proteins as all three are vegan. With each sauce comes a pack of magic — a garam masala spice blend that will elevate your dish to a new level. The blend combines ground cumin seeds, cinnamon, green cardamom, black pepper, coriander seeds, cloves and bay leaves. Flavor Temptations also donates two meals to food banks with every purchase.
Find It: flavortemptations.com or christines-kitchens.com, Willy Street Co-op, Metcalfe’s Hilldale

A Madison Staple
Fraboni’s Italian Specialties and Delicatessen Inc. has called Madison home since 1971. When stopping at Fraboni’s you can stock up on deli salads, fresh cannolis, antipasti and pantry staples, including Fraboni’s signature Italian spaghetti sauce. Choose from regular or chunky and to replace your generic Italian sauce. The sauces are made from original Fraboni family recipes and can be used with any type of pasta or on pizza — just look for the mustachioed man on the label.
Find It: 108 Owen Road, Monona, 222-6632, frabonisdeli.com or Metcalfe’s Hilldale, Metcalfe’s West Towne and several Woodman’s Markets

Latin Kick
Cafe Costa Rica is a local Latin American- and Caribbean-influenced food truck staple, but COVID-19 has limited it to drop-off catering and food pickups from FEED Kitchens. For the time-being, flavor your own meals with what owner Thony Clarke calls “Latin soul in a bottle.” Clarke, known as Mango Man, bottles two of his delectable sauces. First try the Mango Man Salsa, a combination of habanero peppers, tomatoes and Caribbean spices. Once you fall in love with the signature sauce, give his second, tangier variety — the Monte Verde Salsa — a shot. Add either to any dish or enjoy them with some chips. 352-8466, mango-man-cooks.square.site or MangoManCooks on Etsy and christines-kitchens.com

Helping the Community
Mentoring Positives aims to help at-risk Dane County youth by providing internships and real-world business experience. When the program started, the participants created salsa using tomatoes and peppers they grew in an urban gardening project. From then on, Off the Block Salsa became a local staple, along with Off the Block Pizzas. The salsa is currently made in Door County by professional makers, but it’s still sold locally and benefits Mentoring Positives. They’re hoping to bring production back to Madison next year.
Find It: off-the-block.square.site or christines-kitchens.com, Willy Street Co-op, Metcalfe’s and Regent Market Co-op