Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Product Review: Perfect Iowa pork on the grill with some sass rubbed on

My good friend Gloria owns a business that sells an awesome variety of sauces, salsas and rubs, Carolina Sauce Company, and a few months ago she sent me several items to play with in the kitchen. I love trying out new products and playing with flavors. I love repurposing things as well, creating something totally different in the end. One of the items she sent me ended up on the shelf over the cold months of winter, no thanks to the nasty polar vortex that made so many of us miserable.

Now spring has sprung and it's time to start thinking about grilling and smoking again. That means meat rubs. Lots and lots of meat rubs. The Chef and I love grilling and smoking different meats, especially ribs and chicken, and we have tried loads of different rubs, including making up our own on occasion. Some have been good, some ok, some bad enough to ruin the meal, and others outstanding. Since we own a smoker and like playing with barbeque techniques we have some basic things we look for in a good rub- it must NOT be salty, must not be overly sugary- just enough to encourage good caramelization, and must have the right amount of heat. Good pepper flavor and HEAT but not just melt your face off heat. That's fine for some things but we want a flavor underneath the heat.

Awwww the smell of summer...... smoking a hunk of pig.
So Gloria included a package of Adams Ultimate Rubb in our goodie package. It's an "all purpose meat, fish and poultry rub (that) has become the favorite among great cooks everywhere." Sounds promising! It also says "spicy" on the package, so that's a good thing. The back of the package has some great suggested uses- sprinkle on meat of choice and let marinate for 30 minute to 2 hours. Put a little in baked beans; sprinkle lightly on salmon; vegetables; french fries; use one part rub to 4 parts flour for fish or chicken breading. Sounds like fantastic ideas!

How about some smokey, fall-off-the-bone ribs?
I open the cute brown package and there is an airtight bag containing the rub- I can already smell it and it smells delicious. I check the ingredients- everything I'm looking for is there, brown sugar (can't have meat rub without it), red pepper, garlic, onion, smokey flavors and a papaya extract. Of course I can't resist a quick taste test. It's delicious, with a nice sweet base and spicy, smoky undertones.

Now all we need is some meat! Decisions, decisions. Pork butt...... chicken...... turkey breast...... brisket? Ribs are awesome, a smoker full of wings makes me happy too. We have to make a decision at this point so we go with boneless pork "country style ribs" and head for home to get cooking. In Iowa, pork is big business. BIG business. From bacon to chops, Iowa is definitely pork country. In fact, there are more pigs in Iowa than humans with around 30 million hogs raised every year. That is one-third of the nation's total pork production, making Iowa the top pork producing state in the entire nation. Pretty BIG business!

Now if you are unfamiliar with "country style ribs" let's talk about that a little bit. These ribs are cut from the sirloin end of the pork loin, also known as the rib end. They have no bones. Most of the time you find them cut into individual pieces already. They are perfect for barbeque cooking or grilling, even roasting. They also lend well to rub-type seasonings because they have a lot of surface area to hold on to the flavors.  These are by far meatier than bone-in rib cuts and are meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. Unlike the old days of Grandma cooking the life out of the pork chops, today's pork is leaner and needs to be cooked to only 145 degrees with a few minutes rest time before serving. **TIP- when cooking meat it's important to keep it as juicy as possible, so always use tongs to turn meat, never use a fork. Poking holes in the meat causes the juices to run out, leaving you with a dried out piece of shoe leather.

Ok, so I've got my rub. I've got my country style ribs. I'm ready to get cooking. The package says the longer you leave the rub on, the better, so I'm going to do that FIRST and foremost and get the meat resting. Pork country style ribs are very lean so you probably won't have much extra fat to trim off. I am going to sprinkle the rub very liberally over the ribs and really get them covered nicely. Place on clean plate and wrap or place in a ziptop bag and refrigerate, until shortly before cooking- then allow meat to rest at room temperature for a short bit.

When I'm ready to cook (I'll be using the grill pan for these since.....sigh........we have not yet filled the tank on the grill and have zero charcoal around) I like to drizzle the meat with just a touch of olive oil. It helps to NOT stick to the grill and I think helps caramelize and brown the crust a little better. Always add meat to a hot grill (or pan) or you will be picking mutilated meat shreds that are stuck to the surface. Plus you wreck your lovely meat surface. Country style ribs are more like thick rectangles than pork chops so I will grill on all four sides, turning each side to the heat just ONCE, and cook until the internal temperature is 145 degrees. It doesn't take very long to cook, so have your sides ready to go before hand. I am going to saute some fresh green beans (like they do in Chinese restaurants) and make a very quick and simple French-style potato salad (with a vinaigrette instead of mayo). Since I don't have store-bought dijon for the dressing I am going to use some of my Jalapeno Pepper Ale Mustard in the dressing- I'll toss some cooked potatoes with chopped Vidalia onion and dressing, freshly ground pepper- simple and delicious.

The results are, as expected, fantastic. The pork was juicy and tender. The rub added the right amount of spice and just a kick of heat. The brown sugar caramelized the meat beautifully. The papaya added a hint of fruity sweetness I didn't expect after cooking. I even sauteed the green beans with a hit of the rub and got the same sweet spicy delicious almost glaze-like sauce with the beans. I HIGHLY recommend you try this product. In fact, if you visit the Carolina Sauce Company, you will find a huge assortment of sauces and rubs to try. We are hot sauce nuts and they even have sample-size bottles so you can test several kinds to find the perfect sauce for you.

Now, fire up those grills, people! It's grilling season!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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