Babyback pork ribs were on the menu, the grill was standing ready, and I randomly chose one rub and two sauces to sample.
The rub was Zarda Barbecue Rub, and the two random sauces were Gates Sweet and Mild and Maull's Sweet and Mild. I didn't purposely pick two "sweet and mild" sauces, but they were the first ones I grabbed from their respective cities.
I sprinkled the ribs generously with the rub about an hour before I was ready to cook, and put the ribs into a plastic bag and tucked it into a fridge.
When it was time to cook, I seared the ribs on both sides, then moved them to a cooler part of the grill and turned the heat down, and left them cooking for about 90 minutes. When I pulled them off, they were soft, juicy, and very pretty.
The taste test? The rub added nice flavor, but confirmed that I'm a saucy-rib kind of gal. The Maull's had a definite tomato flavor, and the label didn't lie. It was sweet and it was mild. It was like a thin ketchup with a little more flavor. The Gates sauce had a little more smoke and spice, but it also was sweet and mild. Neither were bad, but neither were amazing.
The goal of my sauce-buying binge was to find the sauce of my dreams and then recreate it. I've made sauces before, but it always seems like something is missing when I actually use them. The problem is that the sauces always taste different when they're being made than the do when they're being used. So I figured that if I could find the bottled sauce that hits the right notes when it hits the meat, I can use that as my example when I build my own sauce.
Meanwhile, the ribs were really good. Sauced, not sauced, it didn't matter. They were just what I needed to remind me that although summer's officially over, there's still some good barbecue weather ahead.