Sunday, February 15, 2015

Three Little Pigs

Three Little Pigs Kansas City Championship BBQ Seasoning is as a standard Kansas City-style BBQ rub as you'll find. 
The rub is a complex mix of sweet and spice and its flavor profile is extraordinarily flexible on all types of meats.
There may only be 5 reviews on this site, but I've used and tested more than I can count.
(Some aren't worthy of the words. Some were great but I can't find anymore.)
Three Little Pigs is probably one of my favorite commercially available rubs. 
It's important to note here that there are several variations of Three Little Pigs. I'm specifically reviewing "Kansas City Championship."
One of the things I like most about this rub is that it plays extraordinarily well with others; meaning you can layer it with other rubs and not have them fighting for top billing. 
The rub has a deep smoke flavor that tastes surprisingly natural with subtle hints of pepper and garlic.
I've yet to find a commercial rub that is competition-worthy. This definitely is. 
For whatever reason, mass-produced rubs (even those billed as "competition") tend to taste pretty generic, but every once in a while you find one that tastes authentic. You can tell when ingredients have been added to cut costs or fill a bottle. And you can also tell when a company sticks to their guns and sells what wins Grand Championships. This rub is the latter. 
I would have no reservations competing with this rub.
It is outstanding on pork, specifically ribs and butts. I also like to use it on salmon and mixed in hamburger meat.
I don't find this rub particularly fantastic on beef. It's not bad, but it doesn't stand out quite the way it does on pork.
The flavor of the beef seems to overpower that of the rub. That it mixes well with other rubs comes in handy here. I've found a mixture of Three Little Pigs and Tatonka Dust is great on a brisket. 


This is a textbook KCBS rub and can be used on everything; pork, beef, fish, in chili, on potatoes, in soup. You can't go wrong.

WHY DIDN'T IT GET 5 STARS? Flavor is much too light on large cuts of beef, like brisket and beef ribs.

BANG FOR THE BUCK: A 6.5-ounce bottle is generally between $6 and $7, pretty much the sweet spot for commercial rubs. It's worth every penny.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tatonka Dust

First of all, this ain't your granddaddy's BBQ rub. The sooner you realize that the better off your experience cooking with it will be. You have to change your expectations.
Tatonka Dust is a unique blend of worcestershire powder, soy sauce powder and a charcoal seasoning base mixed with onion, garlic, peppers, salts and other spices. The unique blend certainly gives it a unique flavor profile (and color).
My preference for BBQ rub is a Kansas City-style. This is certainly not that, and that becomes obvious when you see the black mixture in the bottle.
Depending on where you live, it's not widely available. I ordered mine from the company's website. More on that later.
This rub was highly endorsed by people's whose opinions I respect. I've heard it's great on anything and everything, and while I'm not a fan of "makes everything better" rubs, the chatter on Tatonka Dust was deafening. There's no way I was going to overlook it.
Feedback was most high on beef, so the initial test was on two thick-cut ribeye steaks. A third ribeye was not dusted for head-to-head comparison.
Following a light dusting, 30 minute rest and 20 minutes on the Weber, one thing became apparent; I didn't use enough.
I found Tatonka Dust marginally enhanced the char flavor of the meat, and gave the natural beef flavor a slight boost. Otherwise, it was hard to tell it was even there.
After the test, one of the company's owners told me via Facebook that was exactly what the rub was designed to do.
She suggested that I likely needed a heavier dose (and she was correct) but added the rub was designed to make the meat more flavorful naturally, not necessarily bombard it with seasonings and spices.
I grill over hickory logs and get a lot of char naturally. Also, we have a good butcher in my hometown, so we rarely get a cut of meat that needs the help. Even still, the rub did give the natural flavor a little jolt.
If you grill on propane, get you a bottle of this stuff; the biggest one they make. You'll have everyone convinced your meat is wood-fired. The naturalness of the flavor in this rub is amazing.
If you buy a high quality cut and cook over coals or wood, you might not be overwhelmed by the flavor, and that's by design.


If you're wanting to improve the taste of lower quality cuts of beef, this is a one way ticket to flavor town. If you're looking for something more familiar, a-la KCBS, keep looking.

WHY DIDN'T IT GET 5 STARS? The char and flavors in this rub taste surprisingly natural, but with a little fire control and better meat selection, you should be able to get those yourself. I didn't taste a lot of the other flavors in the rub, or they weren't as obvious as I would have liked.

BANG FOR THE BUCK: A 6-ounce bottle from the website is nearly $11. That's expensive. Add in shipping, and you're around $17. The company does sell it in bigger bottles and bags and the more you buy, the cheaper it gets (per ounce/pound). Still, when you use it, you'll want to use a heavy dose, so it might not go very far. If you live somewhere where you can get your hands on it for $11, it's well worth it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bad Byron's Butt Rub

Bad Byron's Butt Rub may be the most widely available commercial barbecue rub, so it stands to reason that if you've not tried it, it should be pretty easy to get your hands on some.
Most prevalent to the nose are serious hints of garlic and pepper. Taste-wise, it's a lot saltier than I generally prefer my rub, and it's easy to over-do it.
There's no sugar in the rub, so it's more of a Memphis-style rub that what you are likely prepared for.
I don't have a test smoke review for you because I have used this stuff for years, and I've used it on practically every cut of meat imaginable.
With that said, this wouldn't be on a list of 100 things I would put on a brisket, and it probably wouldn't make the top 90 on a pork butt or ribs.
Butt Rub tends to lose a lot of its potency over an extended cook. This isn't unique; all rubs do. But as pronounced as the pepper and heat are right out of the bottle, they almost vaporize on the smoker.
Personally, I don't care for it as a barbecue rub, but it's not bad as a seasoning salt or on cuts of meat that don't require a long cook time; like chicken wings or pork chops. It's great on salmon.
Similar to my previous review of Pig's Ass, I use Bad Byron's on fries, baked potatoes and in hamburger meat. It's also a key ingredient in my chili.
Pig's Ass and Butt Rub share a remarkably similar flavor profile, but Butt Rub has heavier tones of paprika.
I've almost always got some Bad Byron's on-hand, but I don't give it any consideration for my barbecue.


WHY DIDN'T IT GET 5 STARS: Way too salty. Produces a really middle of the road, black pepper heavy flavor on barbecue and loses flavor too quickly. If this was a seasoning salt, I would score it much higher.

BANG FOR THE BUCK: You can get a 4 ounce bottle for around $5, which makes it a reasonable value considering how versatile it is.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pig's Ass Rub

Depending on where you live (and possibly the political leanings of your grocer), this rub may have a different name.
I'll be honest. I bought this rub because it was called "Pig's Ass." It's hard to ignore a label like that, at least it is for me.
If you can't find Pig's Ass, look for the logo. What's in the bottle hasn't changed.
This is a Memphis-style rub, so it is very pepper and cumin-heavy; like knock you down kind of heavy.
This isn't an amateur rub. It has an aggressive flavor profile. You're either going to love it or hate it.
Or you could be like me and; meh ... I don't care for this rub on smoked pork, but my background is in Kansas City-style Q.
My test smoke was on an ass ... I mean butt. I rubbed the ribs liberally and let rest overnight. In all the rubbed butt rested for a little more than 12 hours. The butt smoked for 8 hours over hickory. The end result was less than spectacular.
You'd think something called Pig's Ass would be choice No. 1 on pork, and it probably is for some people. But it's not for me.
On my list it would be closer to last. It's more of a personal flavor and expectations kind of thing (again, Memphis-style vs. KC-style), but that doesn't mean I don't like it. I love it.
I gave the rub a few second chances, just not on a butt. It's awesome on french fries.
On grilled pork chops, it's great.
On smoked chicken wings. Wow.
It's a great and more flavorful substitute for salt on just about anything.
But by far my favorite use for Pig's Ass: fried chicken.
It has a very complex flavor profile and it is rich, peppery and salty. If you mix a liberal dose with flour, you wind up with some KFC-worthy fried chicken.
Also, its low sugar content doesn't easily burn in the grease.
The first time I smelled this rub, the first thing that popped into my mind was fried chicken. Maybe they should repackage this stuff as "Chicken's Ass."


OFFICIAL RUB REVIEW: A good Memphis-style rub but doesn't produce spectacular BBQ. If this was a fried chicken seasoning, I would give it 11 stars. 

WHY DIDN'T IT GET 5 STARS? Something called "Pig's Ass" should be other-worldly on pork. This under-delivers. It also clumps-up in the bottle, which is a huge pain in the Pig's Ass.

BANG FOR THE BUCK: You can find a 6.5 ounce bottle of this rub for $6 or less, which makes it a good value. It's definitely worth a try. You can do way worse for $6 but you can do better, too. 

Arthur Bryant's Meat & Rib Rub

Arthur Bryant is BBQ royalty, and in Kansas City's he's a BBQ god. It's hard to cook for the masses. Since everyones' tastes differ, the easiest way to please the most people is to be mediocre. Most people don't really appreciate good BBQ. They don't understand what it takes to craft a BBQ flavor profile and to layer flavors with just the right amount of smoke. Arthur Bryant's takes some of that guess work out with their rub.
You can't paint the Mona Lisa with poor quality paint. Ditto for BBQ. If you use a poor quality rub, you lost the battle before the first shot was fired.
Arthur Bryant's rub isn't overly complex but it has an outstanding sweet and smoky profile.
Primary flavor tone is paprika, but there are subtle notes of ground mustard and pepper.
My test smoke was on three slabs of ribs that I cut to St. Louis-style. I rubbed the ribs liberally with Arthur Bryant's and put them in the refrigerator in plastic wrap overnight. In all, the ribs were rubbed for a total of 16 hours. I had very little rub left in the 6 ounce bottle, but I probably could have done one more slab.
The ribs smoked for four hours over hickory. I wrapped them in foil after 2 hours.
I'm always very skeptical with commercial rubs, but this was great. I was pleasantly surprised.
The only issue I have with this rub is the price. If you can get it for under $1 per ounce, it's a steal. But that's not easy. Depending on where you live, you may have to order it from the company's website.
A 2-pack of 6 ounce bottles from their website will set you back $24.50. It's simply not worth that, and I really like this rub.


OFFICIAL RUB REVIEW: If you're a BBQ amateur, this is a fast way to feel (and cook) like a pro. The flavor profile will take you to a new level. Not sugar-heavy, so it doesn't burn on the smoker. Not to hot and not too sweet. It will be a crowd pleaser.

WHY DIDN'T IT GET 5 STARS? It has an intense smoke flavor, which surprisingly doesn't come across as artificial. I like to leave the smoking to the wood and the flavoring to the wood.

BANG FOR THE BUCK:  If you can get a 6 ounce bottle for around $6, jump on it. Get more than one. You won't regret it. Much more than that, the value just isn't there.