I’m busting out a series of 3 reviews today all about Arizona Rub. It hails from a state that is essentially known for old wild west copper boom towns and some of the hottest and driest climate in the U.S. Throwing in the climate and its fairly long border with Mexico, making things like spicy dry rubs sounds like it might be as easy taking a walk in the deserts of Mexico and Arizona, picking the natively growing chiles and spices, throwing them in a blender, jarring them up and just letting the hot and dry climate do its job at turning this in to a dry rub. Obviously the folks at Arizona Rub are doing a bit more than this, and have been dutifully crafting their dry rub recipe for 5 years before deciding to open up for business. The rub being reviewed here is what those 5 years of work created, and from the evaluation of the ingredients from the different rubs, looks to be a cornerstone mix that they tweak to fit other flavor profiles, which you’ll get to read about a little later today when I release the posts on their Chipotle and Pistol Whip flavors. They openly state that this is a mix that was not intended to be hot, but geared towards seasoning ribs for BBQ, so if you’re looking for something with heat, I’d expect you’ll find more interest in the flavor reviews to come.
Now, one of the things I’ve noticed about the folks at Arizona Rub is that they seem to have a fair amount of pride in being a brand that doesn’t cut corners by using fillers, extenders or anything of the non-natural variety in their products, and openly state on their website and product labelling that they produce a product that is 100% made of spices. The mix for the original includes this assortment of spices: Brown Sugar, sea salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic, onion, chili powder and ground cumin.
The color of this rub is an overall deep brick red from a distance, but due to the use of a mildly coarse grind, you can see up close that there is a fair amount of black, grey and white specks throughout, showing off the other elements beyond the sugar, salt and chili powder. The overall texture is what you might expect of generally coarse ground spices. Since there are no drying or anti-caking agents to this, keep in mind that if you live in more humid climates that you may have some binding up of the sugar in mix if not used quickly. If I hadn’t known that this was a spice rub and was blindfolded, I would have to say that I would have immediately believed I was smelling nothing more than freshly dried Ancho chile peppers made from some pods that were slightly sweet and a touch of salt. The garlic and onion being so dried, or less of the overall mix, don’t bring any aromatics to the table in its current form.
There is definitely a presence of salt to this, but in the process of BBQ, some of this will be negated, as the meat will take on some of the salt flavor, and the sugar will come out a bit more, as once the salt works its way in to the meat, the meat will release some liquid to the rub and the sugar will help bind the spices to the exterior, creating better balance. The flavors you pick up really come across as a list of what is in it. Most noticeable is the paprika, a bit of the chili powder (which I’m fairly sure at this point is Ancho), and some of the garlic and onion begins to come through. The heat tends to come more from the bite that you get from black pepper than the heat from chile peppers. As expected, Mild in the heat fire category, and I’ll rate this as a Nice for flavor. It really comes across as a uniform replacement of basic salt and pepper that adds some more complexity to it. Perhaps this is where it does best in the rub category, keeping things nice and simple and letting you enjoy the flavor of the meat as well, instead of overpowering it. I’d venture that you could keep this around on the table and just use it for general table use as well. The salt in this isn’t nearly as overbearing as other mass market seasoning salts, and I bet they could sell this branded as a seasoning salt as easily as a rub.