Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,
Still looking for that gift that will leave your favorite griller gobsmacked, but don’t feel like braving the crowds or arctic-like temperatures? I have a solution (or more precisely, powder): a bespoke batch of barbecue rub you whip up in the comfort of your own kitchen.
I remember when few folks outside competition barbecue circles used—or had even heard of—dry rubs. Today, it’s hard to imagine barbecuing or grilling without these crust-forming, flavor-boosting, palate-blasting mixtures of herbs and spices. Rubs make good barbecue great and great barbecue the stuff of legends. They’re that powerful.
Fortunately, rubs are super easy to create at home using ingredients you likely have on hand already. They take minutes to mix up, are infinitely customizable, and are always appreciated by the grilling enthusiast(s) on your holiday gift list.
A dry rub—wet rubs are a topic for another day—is a mixture of herbs, spices, and seasonings. There are many examples of traditional spice mixes around the world’s barbecue trail—Morocco’s ras el hanout, for example, or France’s quatre epices or China’s five-spice powder, to name a few.
In America, where pit masters use rubs with greater imagination and with a freer hand than anywhere else on Planet Barbecue, rub preferences—just like barbecue itself—follow predictable regional lines.
The most successful rubs for meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables play to the five flavors that can be detected by human taste receptors—sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami—the deep meaty flavor associated with mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, or MSG.
So what do you need to get started? Little more than a mixing bowl and your fingers or a whisk. And some cool-looking jars or tins to package your homemade spice masterpieces.
Here are six tips for blending the perfect rub every time.
Have a killer rub recipe? Or did you come up with one after reading this newsletter? Post your photos and recipes on the Barbecue Board. Seriously, folks. Make our mouths water!
And if you’re really pressed for time as the holidays approach, take a shortcut by giving that special barbecuer in your life one of my Best of Barbecue rubs. I’ve done all the work for you. Enjoy!
Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen's official newsletter, Up in Smoke, is available exclusively on barbecuebible.com. Culled from experiences on the barbecue trail and beyond, Steven brings you reviews you can use, recipes, answers to your questions, special BBQ store discounts, and more. The newsletter is FREE and comes out every week. It is available first only to subscribers to the newsletter and then posted a month later in the newsletter archives. Sign up today!