Testing, One, Two, Three…

by zydecopaws on March 22, 2011

Tonight I had the opportunity to test drive a couple of new rub mixes that a friend of mine is developing. I’ve been sworn to secrecy with regards to who and the details of the rub mixes, but do have permission to talk about them in generalities.

The two rubs in question were very different than those I usually come across. Although one was described as a special Santa Maria style rub (mostly due to it’s coloring and primary ingredients), it was recommended for pork. The other was also recommended for pork, and was a variation of something you would find in the Carolinas. I’m not getting any more specific than that as I don’t want to ruin any chances of future testing opportunities.

i decided to mix up a mild batch of my basic rib rub for comparison purposes and use some of each rub on some country style pork ribs. One batch got the Santa Maria rub…

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Another got the Carolina version…

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And the third batch got some of my homemade rub.

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They all went on Bubba Ho-Keg set up for low-and-slow cooking and set at 225°F. I didn’t put any smoke wood into this cook; I ordinarily use apple but didn’t want to interfere with any of the rubs flavors by overpowering them with a particular flavor of wood smoke.

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The ribs cooked for about 3 1/2 hours and were joined at some point by some trashbag potatoes. Pigdog was coming over to be used as a guinea pig as I wanted someone to taste each without knowing what was in the rub mixes. I guess that makes him a guinea pigdog…

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There were still some noticeable differences in color when the ribs were finished cooking. It may not look that way from this picture, but it did in person…

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A portion of each flavor was passed out and the final testing began. Trashbag taters were available for palate cleansing purposes and to determine suitability of results with traditional side dishes. A green salad was served on the side to assist with digestion. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

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The results were interesting. Both test mixes started out life with very strong, pronounced aromas and flavors (using the finger test), but surprisingly lost a lot of their respective kicks during the cooking process. The flavors that remained were very subtle, and not exactly what was expected. Both allowed plenty of the flavor of the meat to come through, but I don’t think either delivered the intended result from a flavor profile perspective. The Santa Maria style was the better of the two (as judged by both of us), and the Carolina style was very difficult to pin down. Perhaps I didn’t use enough of the rub, but since both contained salt I didn’t want to get too carried away with them.

I didn’t tell Pigdog anything about them other than one was a version of my home brew and the other two were the test mixes. Without prompting, he chose my homemade version as the best of the three. That might have something to do with the fact it had a much more pronounced flavor and plenty of spice (without being over the top, as I have a tendency to do).

The good news is that neither of the test mixes sucked, and once the testing portion of the meal was complete, didn’t interfere with the Big Butz Sauce (Hot) that we smeared over the ribs. I prefer the country style ribs sauced, and normally do that during the cooking process, so this might not have been the best cut of pork to test with. Pigdog didn’t seem to mind being a guinea pigdog, and I didn’t hear any complaints when I offered to send leftovers home with him.

I do have some of the test mix left over and may give them a try over some fish. After all, I have to come up with something different for Friday that doesn’t involve meat…

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