Friday, August 26, 2011

Savory Meat Rubs

So, lately, I've been really into making spice/herb blends here at home in order to find flavor combos that I really like as Jen and I frequently do something simple like steaks or baked chicken thighs with a salad or soup for dinner.  It's really nice to be able to grab a shaker and sprinkle some heaven on your meat and throw it on a grill or in the oven and be done with dinner!  Or to rub it into some steaks or chops the night before a cookout and not have to mess with wet marinades and leaky plastic bags.  Sometimes I like something herb-based for chicken or a hot chili rub for a beef roast or whatnot.  I've narrowed down a few basic ones that can often be used alone or, more commonly, be used as a base for other flavors to be built on.  The main rub I'll feature here was spread liberally over a tri-tip roast and actually has 3 other rubs as a base so I'll include recipes for those as well.

Making these three blends will provide you with a mildly spicy dry meat rub, a garlic herb sprinkle, and garam masala (an Indian "warming" spice blend), all of which will last far beyond this recipe and will provide you with an endless combination of flavors limited only by your tastes and imagination.  I recently purchased a small electric coffee grinder that I am using exclusively for herbs and spices as the oils from said ingredients rarely wash out completely and will flavor your coffee if it does double duty for you.  I picked one up for $15US and am very pleased so far as a mortar and pestle would take ages.  Alternately, if you don't want to put out the cash for a grinder, dried ground spices can be used.  They just won't pack the same punch in the flavor department but that won't matter if you just add a bit more of the finished rub to your meat than you normally would.

Safety Warning:  Do not touch your face once you have handled spices! All spices have oils that we will be working to release, oils that will irritate your tear ducts and sensitive membranes!  I spent a good thirty minutes tearing up in the bathroom after rubbing my eye on the way to wash up.  I would suggest washing immediately after you're done grinding spices or, even better, wearing nitrile gloves that can be removed and disposed of after use.

After rinsing my eye repeatedly with cold water, I decided it would only be appropriate for the song to go with this recipe to be NOFX's "Stickin In My Eye" - Justin

  • 2 tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp whole cloves (roughly 20 individual cloves)
  • 1 cinnamon stick broken in half
  • 1 dried chili de arbol, stemmed and seeded
  • 3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
If you are foregoing the roasting and grinding of spices, simply substitute ground versions of these spice measurements and shake to mix in a ziplock bag.

Add everything but the nutmeg to a cast iron skillet and toast over medium-high heat for about 3minutes moving the pan constantly.  Remove from heat and spread out on a tray or plate to cool for 5 minutes.  Once cool, add everything, along with the nutmeg, to the grinder and grind for 1 full minute.  Store in an airtight container and use as desired.

Garam masala is rarely used by itself as it has many sharp and pungent flavors.  It has some sweetness from the cinnamon but has much more flavor from the clove and cardamom.  By itself, it's not very spicy.  It imparts a slow burn and tingle to the tongue and back of the throat and is literally translated as "warming spice" as it adds a savory (almost a ginger flavor), mild, warming sensation to dishes.

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp pasilla chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbs onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp seafood seasoning (Old Bay all the way!)
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp dry yellow mustard
Add everything to a bag and shake until well combined.  Simple as that.

This rub is good for any meats.  I also like adding a little to soups to liven them up a bit.

  • 3 tbsp dried marjoram
  • 3 tbsp dried savory
  • 3 tbsp dried tarragon
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried chives
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 2 tbsp seasoned salt
  • 4 tbsp garlic powder
Add all of the dried herbs to a grinder or mortar and pestle (you'll have to work in batches that way) and grind until fine.  Add the herbs, salt, and garlic powder to a bag and shake well to mix.

This is a good blend to lightly dust over pork chops, chicken or seafood.  Also good for soups and stews.

  • 1 2-3lb Tri-tip roast
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Thudium's Herb Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Spicy Dry Meat Rub
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pasilla chili powder
Cover the meat liberally on both sides and let sit in a plastic bag in your fridge overnight.  Grill the next evening over high heat for 8 minutes per side, if you like medium rare.

This is not an overly spicy rub as the pasilla chili powder is not hot but rather tastes a lot like raisins in flavor.  If you like spicier meat rubs add a little more of the Spicy Dry Meat Rub to it or substitute cayenne for the pasilla chili powder for some Cajun-style heat!

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