The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “gusto” as “vitality marked by an abundance of vigor and enthusiasm”. That’s essentially how I go about things in the kitchen. It’s that very blend of excitement and a touch of suspense that makes cooking so much fun.
Recently, I was able to bring a little extra gusto in the kitchen… quite literally! My partner offered me an assortment of chillies and barbeque rubs from Gusto Spice over the holidays.
The Rubs of the States set consists of five tins of dry rubs named after American states or cities. The Lexington is recommended for Carolina style pulled pork while Texas and Santa Maria could be used for brisket while Memphis or Kansas are great for ribs.
The hot pepper gift set came in a box with eight labeled tins containing different varieties of peppers. Jalapeno, Chipotle, Negro Pasilla, Chimayo, Quajillo, Ca Chile, Ancho and the ever-hot Habanero are not longer as mysterious as they once were. The inside cover of the gift box describes the use in the kitchen for each variety. It also indicates the Scoville Heat units (SHU) for each one. Ancho is the mildest of the lot at 1, 000 to 2, 000 SHU while the Habanero has the most spice heat of the set with 100, 000 to 350, 000 SHU. These dried peppers are to be used smartly.
In the kitchen
I had never previously cooked with such spice rubs nor had I ever prepared my own pulled pork or brisket. So I was quite excited to put Gusto Spice products to the test.
When preparing the beef brisket, I simply followed the instructions on the tin, rubbing the piece of meat with Texas beef rub. I also added a bit of chipotle to it for additional heat. The piece was then covered and placed in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I placed the brisket in the slow cooker and added some onions, garlic, canned tomatoes and a bit of barbeque sauce. I switched on the slow cooker a bit before 8 A.M. and returned home around dinnertime to a sweet, smoky and slightly spicy smell.
I opted to shred the brisket, as one would do when preparing pulled pork. I then placed back in the sauce mixture to simmer a little longer. I served the shredded brisket on top of a bun and home made coleslaw. The beef proved to quite tasty.
I also tried the Lexington pulled pork rub and followed essentially the same instructions and added sensibly the same ingredients to the slow cooker, minus the barbeque sauce. The results proved equally delicious. I must admit that I may have preferred the pulled pork. The secret was clearly in the rub: there was some brown sugar added to the blend of smoky paprika, cayenne and other spices.
I’m looking forward to tasting the other rubs and incorporating a bit more of the hot peppers to my everyday cooking.
Gusto Spice sells their rubs and hot peppers online on their Etsy store.