Chefs and home cooks from the southern part of the United States take pride in their spice rubs. Some are passed on from one generation to the next so it comes as no surprise these secrets are heavily guarded. To be honest I have never used a spice rub. It was while watching shows about food trucks and popular southern smoke pits that peaked my interest. Those that highlighted smoked pork or beef and cooked to perfection had my mouth watering. Ok, so I don’t own a smoker but if I did… After some careful, well not really, concoction of a little bit of this and that, I think I have a pretty darn good rub. I’ve used it on pork, vegetables (delicious sprinkled on sweet potato fries), chicken, fish, and next I plan to rub down a piece of brisket.
A spice rub can incorporate many spices or only a few – all depends on personal taste. The rub in its dense form in the container may seem overpowering to your senses so it is important to remember that once it starts to cook, it’s going to taste lighter. The sugar aids in the browning process and a bit of caramelizing will take place. A wet rub helps the rub stick to the meat. Mix with olive oil, ketchup or grainy mustard. Pesto, a classic wet rub, is lovely on fish, chicken, and vegetables. Make your own rub and control what goes into it. Salt is not typically included in a spice rub which is perfect for those watching their salt intake.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Tinker around with the ingredients to suit your taste. *Sumac powder is used in middle Eastern cuisine and has a lemony flavor. Check out the Barbecue! Bible for information on rubs. Enjoy!