How to Use Your Dry Rub
A dry rub is a versatile combination of spices that extends beyond the boundaries of barbecue, and can be used to season any dish where you want to add a kick of flavor. In addition to the usual method of rubbing it into meats, a dry rub can be used to add new and unusual flavors to vegetables, salads, casseroles, and can even be used to spice up condiments such as mayonnaise for that steak sandwich!
Rubs can be used completely dry or they can be incorporated into a liquid, usually an oil of some sort, but they are frequently combined with other “secret" purees and liquids, providing an additional dose of flavor as well. In these cases, it is referred to as a wet rub or paste. We prefer to use a wet rub with an oil base as a coating for vegetables or shellfish prior to grilling or roasting, as the oil helps the spices adhere better to these foods and aids in the roasting process. We also mix our rubs with mustard and horseradish and use this paste to thoroughly coat our briskets prior to their long slow smoking.
When using rubs in recipes that require an extended cooking time in liquids, such as in a crock pot or batch of chili, it is best to add the dry rub or Texas chili seasoning required in small batches throughout, or towards the end of the cooking process. This keeps the spice flavors at their peak and will provide a more flavorful end product.
When used as a rub for meats, the process is quite simple and adds a tremendous amount of flavor to the finished product.
Wash the meat, and trim it of any excess fat, silver-skin, etc. Dry the meat thoroughly with a paper towel, discarding paper towel when finished.
Generously sprinkle the dry rub, or spread your wet rub paste, to cover your meat of choice with a thorough layer of the spices. With chicken and other birds, gently lift the skin without tearing it, making sure to get the rub in direct contact with the meat as well as on top of the skin and thoroughly within the cavity, to add even more flavor to your finished bird.
When done your meat should be coated with a nice even layer of rub or paste.
Step 3: (Optional - especially with fish and delicate foods)
Using your fingers, gently work the rub in a circular motion, being careful not to crush the meat. On heartier cuts such as brisket or pork shoulder, use the palm of your hand to work the rub into the meat, giving it a good exercise; this helps break down the connective tissues of these tougher cuts.
If you performed step 3, apply additional rub to evenly coat the meat.
Thoroughly wrap the meat in plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator if cooking at a later time, or leave wrapped at room temperature if cooking time is less than 1 hour away. Do not leave your meat un-refrigerated for an extended period of time as this may result in the meat becoming unsafe to eat.
It is not necessary to let the meat sit for several hours after applying the dry rub. However, if you do have the time, allow the rub to really penetrate into the meat and increase the flavor level by letting it have at least one hour of resting time prior to cooking. For even greater results, let the seasoned meat sit in the refrigerator overnight, wrapped in plastic wrap.
About a half-hour before cooking the meat, remove it from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap and allow to return to room temperature. If a dry rub was used, it will have become pasty from the juices of the meat. Be careful when handling the meat, so as to avoid rubbing away any of the paste - it makes for a tasty crust, or what is referred to as “bark".
If desired, you can add more rub to coat for even more flavor.
Cook meat in desired manner, and bon appetite!
Joe Johnson is a proud Texan and founding partner and chief pit-master with Caroline's Rub , where he is in charge of product promotion and development for their line of gourmet dry rubs , smoked salt , and Texas chili seasoning.