Champion’s Bourbon Molasses Rub will soon become a must-have for any dinner makers fond of grilled chicken. This seasoning blend was specially created for grilling chicken, but it is also a fabulous companion for grilled fish, roasted and smoked pork, as well. Some of the greatest dry rubs rely on the essential triad of ingredients as the foundation of flavor: salt, sugar, and paprika. Likewise, Champion’s Bourbon Molasses utilizes this fundamental holy trinity, but with a few surprising touches of innovation.
There may always be those who would rather marinate chicken or have it drowned in sauce. But any well-respected pit master will let you know that dry rubs are the cornerstone of flavor for grilled and smoked meats. These creative seasoning blends known as dry rubs work wonders in chicken and pork, producing results that evoke the taste and texture of divine food. Beyond the familiar and ubiquitous holy trinity of ingredients, dry rubs include a variety of spices and herbs tailored to come together in harmonious ways. There is a very straightforward method for seasoning with dry rubs: you simply shake the seasoning onto the meat and then rub it evenly on all sides before sending the meat to the grill or smoker.
Sugar and Salt
Even the most stubborn dinosaurs in the food industry cannot avoid recognizing the harmful aspects of unhealthy eating. Yet, the debate surrounding salt and sugar in seasoning blends is heavily polarized. Some will prefer to damage their health in favor of enjoying mountains of salt and sugar, while others will strongly disavow both ingredients. Here at Champion’s, we are very concerned with the impact of sugar and salt on growth rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. But we tend to aim for moderation as our goal. Overly relying on sugar and salt can be a bit of lazy cooking, too, but it is undeniable that these powerful flavor enhancers have a spot in the ingredient lists of some of the greatest dry rubs for grilling.
For example, salt helps balance the different flavor profiles of spices that are blended together. Beyond its flavor-enhancing powers, sugar is essential in the process of forming the crust that locks in the meat juices.
Instead of making this issue a case of “all in” or “nothing at all”, we prefer to carefully analyze the necessary levels of salt and sugar in a recipe. It takes several testing steps and a lot of patience, but it’s possible to find a compromise between flavor and health. However, a word of advice: most rubs and seasonings sold widely at grocery stores use salt and sugar in very heavy amounts because they are cheaper ingredients. These seasoning blends tend to be more about their profitability to the company rather than about the flavor opportunities being offered to consumers.
The Story Behind Champion’s Bourbon Molasses Rub
We have a test kitchen where recipes go through a rigorous process of taste-testing and we often try to come up with new, interesting seasoning experiments. Oftentimes, we are inspired by the feedback from our client pit masters and regular home-based cooks. Sometimes, we come upon a single ingredient that makes our minds wander into spectacular new recipes.
This is the case with Champion’s Bourbon Molasses Rub, where it all started with the discovery of a premium black strap granulated molasses that seemed to be begging to be made into a chicken rub. We first tested the granulated molasses to get an idea of which flavors would best match it. After a couple different versions, we settled on a balance of smokiness, a little bit of heat, with a touch of citrus. There are times when all of our experimentings will lead to nothing truly great and tasteful, but more often we hit the palate jackpot.
The granulated molasses comes from New Orleans, Louisiana. We preferred to source domestic molasses over imported ones because local molasses take less time to ripen. In the case of blackstrap molasses, they are boiled three times until it is practically impossible to extract any more sugar from them. The granulated molasses from New Orleans are the least sugary available, with the highest level of flavor. The blackstrap variety is known for having a sharp taste of caramel, with a bitter tinge. The product we source is 100% natural, with no artificial flavorings, coloring, fillers, or additives.
To match such a spectacular ingredient, we chose Smoked Bourbon Barrel Salt, followed by toasted onion and roasted garlic for added smokiness. We still needed to get that little kick of heat, but we wanted something that would contribute to giving the blend a sharp, smoky taste, and we found that chipotle chiles worked best here.
How To Use It
Our recommendation is that you use one tablespoon of dry rub for every pound of chicken or pork. For fish dishes, reduce that amount of dry rub in half for every pound of fish. But as you get to know a new seasoning blend, it is important to start with a little bit less so that you can get acquainted with the flavor profile. You can always add more seasoning, but it’s hard to come back from over-seasoning.
After seasoning the chicken or port with Champion’s Bourbon Molasses Rub, let it rest in the fridge for eight to twenty-four hours so that the juices and seasoning get all worked out. You will only need to let fish rest for thirty minutes.
You will note a subtle, yet full-bodied sweetness, as well as the understated earthiness of onion and garlic. Soon, your taste buds will take on the hints of heat with citric undertones. For a stronger citric flavor, you can add a little bit of unsweetened, freshly-squeezed orange juice after seasoning the meat.
Champion’s Bourbon Molasses Rub is a hand-crafted blend of granulated molasses, orange, garlic, chipotle, demerara sugar, onion, red bell pepper, paprika, and smoked Bourbon Barrel salt.