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Spice rubs join Smokin' Cups for a hot-off-the-grill taste test

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 - 12:23 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 - 6:45 pm

Two 'cue-centric products arrived here at Food Central, and we tested them simultaneously.

The family-operated Ferolito's in American Canyon, on the outskirts of the Napa Valley, makes spice rubs for chicken and pork. At, we learned that the rubs are from "a 20 year old family recipe," but no one got back to us with prices or availability. We liberally rubbed a rack of St. Louis-style ribs with the pork rub, and did the same with two organic chicken breasts, using the chicken rub.

Next, we broke open the package of Cowboy-brand Smokin' Cups, described as "perfectly portioned cups of naturally flavored hardwood smoking chips." The trio of little aluminum foil cups contained hickory, mesquite and apple wood chips. Remove the tab convering the "smoke hole," place the cup on top of hot coals and it will release wood smoke for about a half-hour. We did. On two separate grilling sessions, we used the mild applewood chips for the chicken and the hearty mesquite chips for the ribs (seen in the photo).

We tasters ate, licked our fingers and huddled. We agreed the Ferolito's spice rubs looked and smelled good going on, and gave the pork and chicken great color when they came off the charcoal grill. Though the rubs were tasty, they were too tame for our taste. Where was the heat? The tongue-twisting bold flavors? And we were a bit surprised at the inclusion of "smoke flavor" as one of the ingredients in the pork rub, given all the other natural ingredients.

The Smokin' Cups performed as advertised, once the wood chips started smoldering in about five or so minutes. The cups gave off steady if thin streams of smoke, just enough to flavor the ribs and chicken breasts, without putting too much smoke flavor into the meats. The three-pack is available for $5 at all Lowe's hardware stores.

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Read more articles by Allen Piereioni

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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