I was first introduced to Oakridge BBQ’s range of international award winning, artisan handmade barbecue rubs and grilling spices at Grillstock last year. Mark Slatter and James Loye of UK BBQ Team ‘Ditch Brisket’ were there for the weekend, and kindly let me sample some of them. They were incredibly enthusiastic about the Oakridge products, and it’s no wonder.
Oakridge rubs and seasonings are produced in their own production facility in Kearney, Missouri and are handmade in small frequent batches to ensure freshness and potency of flavour. They also promise to be completely gluten free and contain absolutely no MSG, artificial ingredients, preservatives, fillers or anti-caking agents.
Their President & CEO, Michael Trump, has a successful record on the BBQ competition circuit himself, having competed successfully with his team from 2002 onwards. He was never happy with the commercial rubs available to him at the time, and so made his own right from the start. In fact they won first place with a perfect score on pork ribs at their very first contest. And whilst he doesn’t get to compete much anymore he built the most successful sponsorship program in the BBQ industry, sponsoring over 75 professional teams from all over the world, including our Ditch Brisket lads. Team Oakridge has claimed over 5000 top 10 awards to date. Pretty impressive!
Whilst I don’t compete, Oakridge clearly aim to satisfy the seasoning needs of not only the professionals, but also backyard enthusiasts like myself. And while my attempts to achieve the perfect brisket haven’t yet yielded the holy grail, these rubs have made sure my attempts are tasty ones. Now I don’t profess to have the most educated palate, but I know what I like when it comes to eating and cooking BBQ for the family. So here are a few thoughts from a UK backyard lady griller.
Black Ops Brisket Rub
As the name suggests this rub is intended for brisket, but works incredibly well on all cuts of beef. I smoked up some beef ribs and a brisket point with it and found it to have a very pleasant rich flavour which I think is helped along by the addition of coffee (I love coffee in a beef rub) and with a nice finish of peppery heat. Savoury with just the right amount of sweet for me when it comes to a beef rub, it also creates a wonderfully deep, dark bark.
Secret Weapon Pork & Chicken Rub
I cooked up a beautiful rack of St Louis cut pork ribs with this. It has a nice amount of heat to it and a great balance of savoury/sweet. The predominant flavours for me were paprika, garlic, onion and a hint of ginger, but there is a lot of ‘can’t quite put your finger on it’ herbs and spices going on in the background here that rounds everything out really nicely to make it a stand out rub. As with all of the Oakridge rubs I tried, it has a stunning colour.
Dominator Sweet Rib Rub
I have 2 stand out favourites out of the 6 rubs I tried. Dominator is definitely one of them. Now if you don’t like cinnamon then the chances are this rub isn’t for you, as that is definitely the predominant flavour here. I happen to be a big fan and absolutely loved it! Again the balance of flavours is spot on and as its name suggests this rub is sweet, but with a wonderful savoury balance and just a very subtle heat. Chicken and ribs rock with this rub!
Game Bird & Chicken Rub
The second of my top two favourites. My kids love bone-in chicken cooked on the BBQ and this is now the most requested rub to accompany it in our house. In fact my 8 year old daughter used Game Bird on her very first solo cook recently and she knocked it out of the park! It’s a balanced sweet/savoury rub with a nice amount of heat. As the website suggests I use it in other ways too, including adding it to loaded baked potatoes and sprinkling on chips (fries).
Competition Beef & Pork Rub
I smoked a huge pork shoulder with this rub and it didn’t disappoint. A big bold rub balancing heat with salt, savoury and sweet. As it says on the packet, a great rub for the stronger flavoured meats like beef and pork. The salt content of the rub seems higher in this than the others I tasted out of the selection, but I’m sure that’s absolutely intentional and certainly isn’t unpleasant. We had tradesmen working at the house when this huge piece of meat was ready, so I served them up pulled pork sandwiches. They couldn’t get enough, which is why a finished photo eluded me :)
Santa Maria Grill Seasoning
For me this grill seasoning is a fantastic all rounder and the most versatile of all the Oakridge rubs I tried. A wonderful steak seasoning, but also perfectly at home on lighter meats like chicken, fish and great on vegetables. Broccoli is transformed!! I would probably say for my BBQ habits it’d be my go to regular seasoning out of the six.
We have an incredible selection of UK produced rubs on the market at the moment, all with their own unique styles, and if you know me then you’ll know my favourites, but I can also highly recommend all of the Oakridge rubs I tried for this review. They are by far the best competition style rubs I’ve tried to date. If you want a taste of the US competition circuit then these would be the rubs to take you there. They have a track record to prove it!
If you fancy trying any of the rubs I’ve mentioned, or any of the other Oakridge collection then head over to BBQ Gourmet where you’ll find the complete range.
The guys from Ditch Brisket kindly sent me 6 of Oakridge BBQ’s rubs to review, but as always I was free to give my honest opinion.