Spices are at the heart of great BBQ. The rubs, mops and sauces that we all know as familiar parts of BBQ find their base in the use of spices and flavorings to complement the meat and smoke flavors that define the experience we all seek when we fire up out smokers and grills. The old sterotypes that men cook on the grill because they cannot cook in the kitchen is belied by the number of genuinely flavorful and complex concoctions that are available to outdoor cooks. I certainly fall into the category of a person that has to buy and try any new rub I can get my hands on. But, sometimes I want to get out the spices and herbs and do it myself.
Below is a brisket showing a simple rub of kosher salt, medium coarse pepper, dried lemon peel and some Mother rub.
When using my own rub, I use a basic rub blend (the Mother Rub) as shown below, that has no sugar or salt added. Then I add additions that I think will complement the meat and method of cooking that I plan to use. My use of the term 'mother' hearkens to the concept of mother sauces from traditional French cuisine, a sauce that is rarely use alone, instead it is a base from which to begin.
Bob’s Basic Mother Rub Mix
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup Gebhardts chili powder
1 tablespoon lemon, lime or orange zest (dried)
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
1 teaspoon powdered toasted onion
From here various ingredients can be added, such as kosher salt, additional pepper or chile powders based upon the meat to be cooked. Some other favorite additions are dry mustard, poultry seasoning, maple sugar or turbinado sugar, cinnamon and dried herbs. One the the great things that develop from use of dry rubs and a little low and slow is a tasty bark, as seen in the brisket show below.