Dry rubs are mixtures of dry spices that are known to give meats very interesting and different tastes. But rubs also create textures, or crusts, on the surfaces of the meats that help to seal in the natural juices. One thing to always remember, when using a dry rub recipe, is that although the longer you keep the rub on the meat, the more pronounced the flavors of the spices will get into the meat. But if you leave the rub on too long, you run the risk of the rub spices pulling the juices out of the meat, causing it to become dry when cooked. This is especially true if the dry rub recipe uses quite a bit of salt or sugar.
Here are some guidelines on how long you should keep the rub on the meat before cooking: 1 to 15 minutes-Small foods, such as cubed meat, shellfish, and vegetables 15 to 30 minutes-Thin cuts of boneless meat, such as fish fillets, boneless chicken breasts, chops, steaks, and pork tenderloin 30 to 90 minutes-Thicker cuts of boneless or bone-in meat, such as whole chickens, beef roasts, beef or pork ribs, and leg of lamb 2 to 8 hours-Big or tough cuts of meat, like beef brisket, whole hams, turkeys, and pork shoulders or pork butts
Here are four classic dry rub recipes that will help you cook just about any meat, and for any occasion. Most use similar base ingredients, but all give a specific taste to the meat or vegetable. Double any of the recipes if needed:
Barbecue Spice Rub 4 teaspoons kosher or sea salt 2 teaspoons light brown sugar 2 teaspoons granulated garlic 2 teaspoons good chile powder 2 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon celery seed 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper This dry rub recipe makes 1/4 cup.
Cajun Spice Rub 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt 1 teaspoon granulated onion 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon light brown sugar 1 teaspoon granulated garlic This makes about 3 tablespoons.
Fennel Rub 3 teaspoons kosher or sea salt 3 teaspoons good chile powder 3 teaspoons ground fennel seed 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed This makes about 1/4 cup of rub.
Asian Rub 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt 2 tablespoons paprika 2 tablespoons ground coriander 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice This makes about 1/4 cup.
Any of these dry rub recipes will add something special to your cooking. Experiment with these rubs, adding other spices if you wish, and discover which flavors you enjoy with which foods.
Billy Bristol is the editor and chief bbq pitmaster for TexasBarbeques.com, an outdoor cooking and entertaining website devoted to backyard living. TexasBarbeques.com has been providing barbecue recipes, cooking tips, grilling techniques, and backyard entertainment ideas since 2005.
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