Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

BBQ My Way

January 25, 2011

The 'rub' on rubs

— If you were to ease drop on a conversation between weekend outdoor chefs discussing grilling or outdoor cooking, you would more than likely hear about the meat, the cooking method, the sauces and marinades.

A topic discussed less is rubs, and that is a plum shame. Quality rubs add a serious punch of flavor while contributing texture to the final product. They are also the key ingredient in the formation of the much sought after bark, the dark, salty, sweet, crusty exterior that forms on barbecue after a long “low and slow” cooking session.

The origin of “rubs” dates back hundreds if not thousands of years when it was necessary to apply salt and flavorings to meat for preservation. Today the appetite for rubs is huge. Browse through the spice section of any supermarket and you will agree. This column will make your rub purchase easier and hopefully give you the confidence to blend your own.

There are really no hard and fast rules with rubs, but there are certain characteristics and ingredients that are present in rubs based on what meat they are going to be applied to. Don't get me wrong – some people have one favorite rub that they will pour on anything, including their morning cereal.

Allow this general discussion to be your guide down the rub road so you can decide what you like.

Beef: The Texans are known for their beef barbecue and grilling, whether you are talking ribs, brisket or steaks. A good Texas beef rub compliments the richness of the beef with saltiness, sweetness and a little heat. If you are grilling a great steak, salt and pepper is really all you need. Below is a basic Texas style beef rub. Consider this as your base and then make additions as you work with it over time to make it match your palet.

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