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BBQ - And There's the Rub

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A rub is simply a mixture of herbs and spices that can be rubbed into the meat before grilling or smoking. The longer the rub is on, the more the flavors will permeate the meat. But it can also be put on at the very last minute. If you are cooking a large cut of meat for a long time, you may also want to baste the meat every hour or so. For a baste, you can use something as simple as apple juice, or a mixture of 3 parts citrus juice, 2 parts oil and 1 part vinegar.

These spice mixes can just be measured into a bowl and stirred, or poured into a jar and shaken to mix. If you prefer to use whole spices for the freshest taste, or if you are making a rub in bulk, it is a good idea to have a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or mini food processor set aside exclusively for this purpose. If you are going to use your regular coffee grinder, clean it out by grinding raw rice in it to try to avoid jalapeno-flavored coffee. Spice rubs should be stored in an airtight container and used within six months for optimal flavor.

It is much cheaper to buy spices in envelopes and store them in cute little jars yourself. Schilling is a rip-off. Cost Plus and ethnic markets sell spices for next-to-nothing in envelopes. Even the Latino foods aisle in the grocery store sells spices cheaper. When buying in bulk, "It's Delish!" brand is a good deal.

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Recipes after the jump!

(This recipe is many times removed from the original. Good with any cut of pork).

8 Tbsp. light brown sugar, tightly packed
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. allspice


1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. onion salt
2 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. Lawry's seasoned salt
1 Tbsp. dried sage
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

(Best for steaks)

4 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. garlic salt
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground Jalapeno powder
1 tsp. Bijol

Special ingredients:

Bijol is just a food coloring called annatto mixed with cornstarch. It comes in cute little tins in the Latino food section. I use it because it mellows the intensity of the stronger spices and adds an attractive orange sparkle to the mix. It has the additional side effect of turning the raw steaks yellow, which has become my jalapeno rub's trademark. It is an optional ingredient. Jalapeno powder can be purchased at hot sauce shops like Light My Fire at the Farmer's Market, or you can substitute other dried chili powders.

(Photo by Elise Thompson)