I have been asked quite a lot lately about rubs for grilling. Rubs are a great way to add a delicious coat or crust to meats on the grill. they can be either dry or wet — dry rubs are sprinkled over meat and then rubbed in; wet rubs usually contain olive or vegetable oil, and are coated over the surface of the meat and then rubbed in. Dry rubs are best used on moist meat, while a wet rub might be a better choice for dryer meats or birds with the skin left on. Aim for even coverage, and enough of the rub to stick to the meat so that it can do its work.
What goes into a rub? Kosher salt is an intrinsic element of a rub, to carry the flavor into the meat. Garlic, ginger, onions, spices and herbs, coffee, cocoa, dry mustard, sugar, this is the short list of possible ingredients. You can buy pre-mixed rubs, or prepare your own. The ingredients can be whatever you want, with the idea in mind to flavor and tenderize. Just add a few flavors (not too many, or your rub will overpower the meat). Be sure to use the freshest ingredients you can find, and I suggest you toast and grind your spices if possible. Gather your ingredients and combine in a small bowl. YOu will need 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons of finished rub per pound of meat. Then, rub-a-dub-dub, soon there’ll be grub.
Timing is crucial. The longer you leave a rub on the meat, the stronger the flavor will be. Smaller cuts, like cubed meats for kabobs, require less time for the rub to work and need only a few minutes. Larger cuts, like a shoulder or a rack of ribs will need several hours. The rule of thumb is 15-30 minutes for kabob, steak cuts, chicken breasts, 1-1/2 hours for whole chickens and roasts. Sometimes the rub will form a crust. A rub with higher salt and/or sugar content will draw a bit of moisture out of the meat. Don’t be alarmed. Choose the flavors you want to highlight, and experiment a bit. Then, enjoy!