I love to cook but I'm really not very good at combining a variety of spices and seasonings to create culinary masterpieces of any degree. Which is why I was more than happy to say YES to an offer to review (and give away!) four different flavors of Char Crust Dry-Rub Seasonings. The spice blends seemed a simple way to add zip to meals, and I was especially intrigued by the fact that each flavor could be used on all meats, fish, poultry and vegetables that were broiled, baked, or grilled. Sounded like I'd have plenty of options for testing them out.
Indeed, the options were endless. I received the following four flavors, each in a 4-oz. package, for review (descriptions direct from Char Crust):
• Roasted Garlic Peppercorn features the robust flavor of roasted garlic and onions with the zing of peppercorns and a hint of Worcestershire and lavender. Its versatility has made it a best seller. It complements steaks, lamb, seafood, pork, poultry, and potatoes.
• Ginger Teriyaki is a balance of sweet teriyaki, fragrant ginger, plus a tingly touch of wasabi that lends a new dimension and creates a modern teriyaki interpretation. It complements chicken, fish, and steak.
• Amazin’ Cajun is a spicy-sweet blend of piquant cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, oregano and a mélange of other Mardi Gras flavors. It brings the sublime heat of New Orleans to catfish, chicken, shrimp, and even “dirty” rice.
• All American Barbecue takes the best flavors of American barbecue and blends them into a tangy-sweet, slightly spicy rub. It has rich molasses from Memphis, tangy tomato from Kansas City, mustard, pepper and vinegar from the Carolinas, plus a wisp of smoke from Texas.
And how did I put them to the test?
Well, I first used the All American Barbecue on chicken breasts. Just as promised, the rub sealed in the juices and the chicken was moist, tender and flavorful. The flavor was less tomato-based than I expected—and better than I expected. I always think of BBQ sauce from a bottle, not a dry rub, but have been reluctant of late to buy the bottles because of the high-fructose corn syrup that's nearly impossible to avoid. The Char Crust rub is a flavorful (and probably more healthful) option.
The Ginger Teriyaki was used on pork that I pan grilled then added to a noodle-based stir fry. As it was cooking, my oldest daughter stopped by for something or another and ended up asking to stay for dinner because it smelled so good. And it was good. I'm not a huge fan of ginger but the ginger was light while the teriyaki flavor was stronger. Loved it.
To be different (and test the options), I used the Amazin' Cajun flavor on salmon fillets, broiled in the oven. As recommended, I sprayed the salmon with cooking spray beforehand to keep the spices from burning. The result was a moist and spicy—but not too spicy—salmon steak.
Last but far from least is the Roasted Garlic Peppercorn flavor. I again wanted to try out what's promised on the package and this time it was the tip that Char Crust seasonings can be used on vegetables. My veggie of choice for the review was asparagus. As my husband doesn't like asparagus (or garlic, darn it), I made the spicy spears when my oldest and youngest daughter were over for dinner. We all agreed the peppercorns and garlic were a perfect complement to the fresh asparagus.
What I loved about Char Crust Dry-Rub Seasonings: The spice blends of each flavor are well balanced, with no overwhelming taste in any of those I tried. Also, the seasoning combinations are things I wouldn't think to combine (like I said, I'm not good at that), so it was great being able to just dredge the food in a pre-mixed seasoning and not worry if I'd used the best spice for the desired result. Oh, and another thing I loved is that the seasonings truly do seal in the juices. Good stuff.
What I didn't love so much: As the packages are 4 ounces and it's unlikely a cook would use that much to prepare food for one meal (even for a crowd), I would have preferred the rubs be in small containers, not paper pouches within cardboard boxes. Sure, I could have folded the pouches and placed in the cupboard but all the info I wanted to read for each (ingredients and instructions) are on the boxes. The boxes are unwieldy and with several to store, it's kind of a hassle.
Bottom line: Char Crust Dry-Rub Seasonings are a perfect way for cooks to change up their meal reportoire without having to know much about how to best combine spices. Or need to have a lot of spices on hand.
Char Crust Dry-Rub Seasonings come in eight flavors (those not reviewed are Smoky Spicy Southwest, Sun-Dried Tomato & Garlic, Hickory & Molasses, and Roto Roast). The four-ounce packages retail for $5.49 each. Visit the Char Crust website to find where they're carried near you or to purchase directly from Char Crust.
One lucky winner will receive the same Char Crust Dry-Rub Seasonings I reviewed here: Four-ounce packages of four flavors—All American Barbecue, Amazin' Cajun, Ginger Teriyaki, and Roasted Garlic Peppercorn. To enter to win: Comment below with an answer to the following question:
What spice or seasoning is your go-to flavor when cooking?
Entries accepted through 11:59 MDT Friday, May 11. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email Saturday, May 12, so be sure you've included your email address. Prize will be shipped directly from a Char Crust representative. Prize valued at approximately $22.
And the winner is...
Congratulations to Pat! I have no doubt she'll enjoy the spices!
Thank you to everyone who entered and to CharCrust for the delicious giveaway!