30 Days of Grilling Day # 7: Rubs

Since we talked about the smoker yesterday, let’s cover rubs today!  

Rubs work well with the smoker because their flavor is infused with the smoke and penetrates the meat.  Rubs come in two varieties, wet and dry rubs. Dry rubs are 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 to use for 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 overpowering it. Mixing strong spices with mild, complimentary ones will help you get an even distribution. If you’re going for a hot spice combination, mix mild chili powder with cayenne and 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.

Wet rubs can suffer from the same problems so be careful here too. The advantage of a wet rub (or paste) is that it sticks to the meat better. This is particularly important if you are cooking poultry with the skin on or some other smooth surfaced meats or meats that tend to be naturally dry. The other advantage of a wet rub is that it can help keep meat from drying out. This is especially true when using an oil based rub. The oil acts as a moisture barrier, keeping the natural juices inside the meat. Oils in rubs can also keep meats from sticking to the grill. Remember that a wet rub should have the consistence of a thick paste.

When you apply a rub, be prepared to let it rest for a little while.  Overnight is fine, or just for a few hours.  This will give the rubs time to permeate the meat and add flavor.  Just wrap the meat well in foil or in a disposable pan and refrigerate.

Here are a few rub recipes to try!

Dry Rub

¼ cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup paprika

2 TBSP black pepper

Combine in a small bowl and stir to mix. This is a good all purpose rub for any meat. Use generously.

Dijon Wet Rub

2 cups Dijon mustard

1 cup minced parsley

½ cup dried orange or lemon peel

½ cup rosemary leaves, crushed

¼ cup black pepper



Mix together. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

All Purpose Rub

1/3 cup paprika

3 TBSP dry mustard

3 TBSP onion powder

3 TBSP garlic powder

2 TBSP ground basil

1 TBSP black pepper

1 TBSP salt

2 tsp red pepper

Combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container. When applying to ribs, coat heavily and massafe into the meat. If you want to make a sweet rub, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.



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