For many of us, the flavour of summer is the taste of bbq. Often it is that elusive tang that seems hidden in the meat. Serious bbq chefs know what it is. The flavour of the grub is in the rub.
When it comes to grilling or bbq, meat can often be given extra taste with a judicious marinade or rub. Marinades are wet and usually have an acid such as wine or vinegar. The objective is to tenderize tougher cuts of meat as well as give them more flavour. Marinades are great for chicken thighs, beef brisket, and pork roast.
On other cuts, however, opt for a rub.These are spice and herb mixtures that you rub into meat before cooking. Many commercial styles are available. They range from Jamaican style jerks loaded with hot peppers to fairly mild blends such as the brand put out by Paul Prudhomme, the master cajun chef. Prudhommes style is fairly generic and is not too hard to duplicate at home. They contain herbs, spices and salt with his hotter blends increasing the pepper and cayenne.
Although commercial rubs are common, they are often stale. It is easy and tastier to make your own rub that will have that signature taste. Try making a dry rub something along these lines (but adjust to your taste): a half cup of salt , a quarter cup of mild paprika, 3 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper and a teaspoon each of any of the herbs and flavours you like such as cayenne, chili powder chili power, garlic and onion power, sage, thyme. This will give you enough for a couple of bbqs. Add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar if you are cooking at low temperatures. Sugar should not be used in any rub that will be used for grilling meats as the sugar will burn long before the food is ready.
This is a standard dry rub for meat or poultry. It keeps well in a covered jar. It is even good sprinkled on a steak just before taking it off from the fire.
Better yet is a moist rub. Take a half dozen cloves of garlic and pound them into a mash with a teaspoon of salt. A blender works well but an old fashioned mortar and pestle is best. Add the flavours you want. I usually put in a little olive oil, maybe a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and enough thyme or marjoram to thicken it up.
Whether you use this moist garlicky rub or a handful of the dried mixture,
massage it over a larger cut of meat such as a whole chicken, turkey breast, a rack ribs, or a 3 to 4 pound roast. Let the meat sit covered and in the refrigerator for at least several hours or even overnight before cooking.