Thursday, May 22, 2014

What is a Meat Rub?

What really makes a rub a rub is how it is applied. I suppose that you could say sprinkling salt and pepper over a steak was like adding a rub, but this really isn't what we mean when we talk about rubs, particularly a traditional barbecue rub. A rub should coat the surface of the meat. You should work a rub evenly into to the meat to get the flavor inside as much as possible.    

Rubs come in two varieties, wet rubs and dry rubs. A dry rub is made of herbs and spices and can be either sprinkled over meat or actually rubbed in. A wet rub contains a liquid ingredient, usually oil and is coated over the surface of the meat. Beyond this, practically anything goes. What you want in your rub is really a matter of personal taste. You want a good rub to add flavor and color but you don't want it to overpower the flavor of the meats you are rubbing.   

Most dry rubs contain such things as paprika, chili powder, granulated garlic, cayenne, etc. To get these dry ingredients to stay on requires the natural moisture of the meat.  You want to enhance the flavor of the meat without over shadowing it, so a good rub will be a mixing of strong spices with mild, complimentary ones to create an even distribution. If you're going for a hot spice combination, chose a blend with chili powder, cayenne or paprika. It will give the meat a good color and add the level of heat you want without making the meat too hot to eat.

This example is a Sweet / Hot blend with a combination of sugar and spices.  It will get you started on a journey to create some rubs of your own.

Spicy Barbecue Rub

2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons paprika

Combine all ingredients. Use on a large piece of beef, chicken, lamb or pork when barbecuing or spit-roasting. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

If you want to try out the sugar and salt-free rubs of the Backyard Patch, see this Etsy listing.

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