If you know me, you know that I’m not so much in love with cooking as I’m in love with eating. Ergo, I’m into anything that’ll make it quick and easy to enjoy delicious food.
Like a rub.
Having one at the ready, in a jar, bowl, or bag, is always a good thing. But it’s especially so during grilling season, when simple, flavorful food is what I crave.
And rubs are easy. In about five minutes you can make enough to last all summer.
To get started, try my Smoky Cajun-Inspired Rub (pictured). Use it on grilled chicken, fish, steak, pork, vegetables—pretty much anything. I adore it on salmon.
From there, create your own.
Do you want it spicy? Earthy? Herbal? Sweet? Although a rub is far from an exact science, here are a few tips.
1. Spicy or warming ingredients like chili powder and cayenne pepper are nicely balanced by sweet or sweet-seeming ones, like brown sugar, cinnamon, and Chinese five-spice.
2. Dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano go well with earthy spices like cumin and coriander.
3. Definitely include salt in your rub—because it’s such a great all-around flavor enhancer but also because it’ll effectively turn your rub into a dry brine (if you apply it in advance of cooking), helping to make your meats juicy and flavorful through and through.
4. It almost never hurts to add granulated onion and granulated garlic.
5. Consider sugar. Besides adding sweetness, it’ll make for a nicely browned crust on whatever you’re cooking. But sugar burns easily. So sugary rubs should only be used on foods that cook quickly, that cook over moderate heat, or that cook via indirect heat.
6. A rub is only as good as the spices that go into it. So avoid tired thyme, old oregano, and past-its-prime paprika. In fact, if your spices are older than about a year, they’re compost. Treat yourself to new ones, buying in small quantities and storing them away from light and heat. (I put a date on the label of my spice jars, so I know when they’ve lost their luster.)
With those ideas in mind, blend away—or use my recipe.
But here’s the rub—make plenty. There’s a deliciously long summer ahead.