Meat rubs are an excellent way of enhancing the flavor of grilled meat, poultry or even fish.
What Makes a Rub a Rub
A rub is a mixture of herbs, spices and seasonings that are used to coat the outside of meat.
Salt is usually a main ingredient, because of the balancing effect it has with other ingredients, and it helps the rub penetrate the meat.
Sugar is another main ingredient, because it provides caramelization when high heat is applied, though it should be used sparingly, because it burns easily.
Seeds, nuts, spices and dried herbs should all be crushed before using, to release their oils, and enhance their flavors.
The amount of any ingredient that you use is up to you. There is no right or wrong way to do a mixture.
There are two kinds of rubs, dry rubs and wet rubs.
Dry rubs are mixtures that contain dried herbs and spices, which adhere using the meat’s natural moisture.
Wet rubs contain moist ingredients that are added to the herbs and spices. They are also referred to as pastes, which describes their consistency. Wet rubs adhere more easily to food than dry rubs.
Common moist ingredients are oil, yogurt, mustard, horseradish and finely chopped garlic, but can also include beer, wine, bourbon, soy sauce, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, molasses, tomato sauce, fruit juice and melted butter.
How to Apply a Rub
When applying a rub to chicken with skin on, place it under the skin. Rubs will penetrate better if the meat, poultry and fish is lightly scored.
It is always best to have the rub on the meat for as long as possible, but you can put it on between 15 minutes to two hours before cooking, or even up to several hours, depending on how strong the flavors of the rub are.
Be sure to refrigerate rubbed meats, for food safety.
Here are two recipes, one a dry rub and the other a wet rub.
Dry Rub: Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 4 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp dehydrated onion
- 1/2 tbsp dehydrated garlic
- 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tbsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
Simply mix together and rub on meat. Can be mixed in advance and stored in a sealed container.
Wet Rub: All Purpose Rub
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ cup dark beer
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, and stir in the liquids. Add more liquid if it is too thick.
Coat the meat in the wet rub and grill. If possible, wrap the meat in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for an hour before grilling.
Give meat rubs a try. Soon, you’ll be excited to make your own special blends!