Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ah, There's the (Spice) Rub

A spice rub is a wonderful thing to have on hand -- especially during grilling season -- so you can instantly season things in one fell swoop. It keeps pretty much forever, and all you do is take five minutes to mix up some of your favorite dried and ground spices in an empty spice jar or Tupperware container. Now would be an excellent time to do so, as you can then use it on the chicken, burgers, ribs, and what have you at your Fourth of July cookout/barbecue.

This is a combo I frequently use on roasted chicken thighs or drumsticks, pork chops or ribs, roasted potato wedges tossed in olive oil...the possibilities are endless. Right now, this rub is on six pounds of pork shoulder in my fridge, waiting to be smoked and then shredded into soft tacos garnished with chipotle slaw.

The recipe is phrased in terms of ratios rather than exact measurements so you can make as much as you think you’ll use. Maybe start with a couple tablespoons of each ingredient on the list right after the jump.

Mix equal parts:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Kosher salt (I sometimes use half celery salt)
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • With about half as much:

  • Ground black pepper
  • Dried thyme leaves
  • If doing the rub for ribs, I would add about as much sugar or brown sugar as the other ingredients above combined (i.e., the rub ratio would be half sugar to half spice—the “everything nice” would be represented by the ribs, of course).

    Naturally, feel free to experiment with other spices and herbs, and/or omit any of the above. I sometimes add dried red pepper flakes, ground coriander seeds, dried oregano, or fennel seeds, and sometimes skip the curry powder--as I did for tonight’s pork shoulder, thinking the flavor palette would get a little too busy with the chipotle mayo in the slaw. Gentle reader, if bringing a mayonnaise-based dish to a cookout is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

    Have a happy and meat-filled 4th, my fellow ’Merickans!


    1. It's always good to be aware that curry powder is not a single spice, and that it likely already contains cumin, coriander, and possibly fennel. I like to use it, but I also try to look at the composition of any such powder I use to make sure you don't go too heavy on one of the ingredients your curry mix already contains.

    2. Good point Gene -- I should have specified the kind of curry powder. (Though regular readers may recall my description of the kind I've been into lately ...) Oh, I should have also mentioned that I often add turmeric instead - to your point about, not being redundant w/the ingredients in your curry powder.