This article first appeared in the December 2023/January 2024 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine.
By Susan Marquez
The origin of jezebel sauce is difficult to pin down. The traditional sauce, typically made during the holiday season, most likely originated in the deep South, and most probably from the Gulf Coast area. The tangy-sweet sauce has several interpretations. Just look it up on Pinterest and there are dozens, if not more, recipes (including this version from Southern Living). While the ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, the main ingredients remain the same: assorted fruits, jellies, mustard, horseradish, cayenne and black pepper. The combination of the sweet fruit with the savory mustard, horseradish and pepper hits the tastebuds just right. It’s hard to take a taste and not want more.
While no one knows for sure, it is a good guess that the tart sauce was named after Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel. Jezebel has the reputation of being the bad girl of the Bible. Her reputation has surely softened over time, with the introduction of the tasty sauce that bears her name.
Evelyn Roughton’s company, Taste of Gourmet, has been selling Jezebel Sauce as one of their products since 1989. The company has a full line of gourmet products made in Indianola, Mississippi. Jezebel Sauce is a best seller. “It always has been,” says Roughton. “We had been in business for a few months and needed to expand our product line. Jezebel Sauce was a natural addition, and it was successful from the first introduction of the product. People love it.” Roughton thought it would be a seasonal holiday product, but people buy it year ‘round. “We can hardly make enough to meet the demand.”
Roughton says the recipe was her grandmother’s and mother’s. “When I was growing up, they made big batches of it in late October to last throughout the holidays. They put it up in quart jars, and when it was gone, that was it until the next year.”
Because she loved it so much, Roughton says she began making the sauce year-round and keeping it on hand in her refrigerator. “It’s the perfect party food,” she says. “Just pop a block of cream cheese onto a platter and cover it with Jezebel Sauce. I like to serve it with Ritz crackers. (see recipes below) It’s the one thing on the buffet that will be gone at the end of the party. People love it.” Not just for parties, Roughton says she uses the sauce all the time.
The Taste of Gourmet’s Jezebel Sauce is made with apricots, peaches and apples combined with horseradish and mustard. “It’s a finishing sauce,” says Roughton. “It’s a perfect addition to a ham or turkey sandwich, or even on a hamburger. I love to pan-fry catfish then rub the fish with Jezebel Sauce before I eat it. It enhances pork tenderloin or pork chops, and it’s also delicious on chicken. I even use it as a dip – it’s wonderful with shrimp. Jezebel is just a fabulous finishing sauce to drizzle over a simple broiled chicken breast or catfish fillet. It’s delicious as a dipping sauce for po-boy sandwiches too.”
The Jezebel Sauce is a signature ingredient on the Royal Beef sandwich at The Crown Restaurant in Indianola, where many of the Taste of Gourmet products are both tested and tasted. “When we were sampling the Jezebel Sauce at The Crown or food shows my husband Tony loved when people asked why we called it Jezebel Sauce,” recalls Roughton. “He would say it was named for that sweet hot woman in the Bible.”
Not just for ladies’ book clubs and bridal showers, men love Jezabel Sauce as well. It has become a staple at tailgate parties around the state as well as for football parties at home. “While Ritz is my cracker of choice for Jezebel Sauce on cream cheese,” says Roughton, “I also think a good bread, toasted and cut into slices, is great.” Taste of Gourmet’s Jezebel Sauce can be purchased in gourmet shops around the state or ordered from the company’s website. A nine-ounce jar sells for $10.99.
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. butter (1/2 stick), softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Jezebel Sauce
1 envelope gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds
Mix cream cheese, butter and sour cream in a mixer.
Add Jezebel Sauce and mix well.
Soften gelatin in the 1/4 cup of water and then dissolve the gelatin by holding it over very hot water.
Add the gelatin to the cheese mixture and stir. Then add raisins and almonds.
Put into a mold that has been very lightly oiled and refrigerate. Jezebel’s Delight will freeze perfectly, so double it and be ready for two parties! Serve with crackers.
Ham Bites Dipped in Jezebel Sauce and Sesame Seeds
1 jar of Jezebel Sauce
1 cup of sesame seeds, toasted
bite size pieces of ham (or very lean cooked roast pork)
Cut the ham into small pieces and put each onto a toothpick.
Spread the sesame seeds on a baking pan and toast in a 300-degree oven for about 15 minutes. (You can keep the toasted sesame seeds tightly covered for months.)
The day of the party, dip the end of each piece of ham into the Jezebel Sauce and then immediately into the toasted sesame seeds.
Set the bites onto a serving platter that has been lightly sprinkled with sesame seeds and cover until ready to serve.
Jezebel’s Potato Salad
16 to 20 small new red potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 jar Jezebel Sauce
6 green onions, chopped
Place the clean new potatoes in a pot of water deep enough to cover the potatoes. (Do not peel the potatoes.) Add the salt.
Bring the water to a boil and let it continue to boil for about 5 minutes.
Take the pot off the heat and let the potatoes cool in the water.
Drain the potatoes and let them dry before placing them in a bowl.
Add the green onions and half of the Jezebel Sauce.
Toss the salad gently to lightly coat the potatoes.
Taste a bit and add more Jezebel if desired. Make a day ahead and refrigerate.
10 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons Jezebel Sauce
1/4 tsp. Sassy Seasoning Salt (optional) or table salt
Cut eggs in half - lengthwise.
Remove yolks and mix with remaining ingredients.
Fill egg white halves and refrigerate until 1/2 hour before serving
Garnish with a tiny bit of Sassy Seasoning Salt (or paprika)