Jack's Blend Rubs and Seasonings
A great spice blend is created by using both science and art. Science provides us with proven recipe ratios, flavor profiles and ingredient flavors. Art uses creativity, personal preference and trial and error to come up with new, innovative products. Both are important!
Dry Rub refers to a mixture of herbs, spices and/or similar dry ingredients rubbed onto the surface of food (most often meat) to add flavor. The dry rub also creates a crust on the surface of food that is smoked, grilled or broiled. Dry rubs are often mixed with oil, beer or other liquid is used to create a wet rub or paste, which is then slathered on meats prior to smoking, grilling or broiling.
There are as many rub recipes as number of seasonings squared. And while there are no hard and fast rules, there are ratios and recipes that have stood the test of time. Whose spice cabinet doesn't contain Montreal Steak Seasoning©, Old Bay, Tony Chachere's creole, Lawry's or other decades old blend.
Some major ingredients used, or not used, in rubs are salt, sugar, pepper, chili powder, paprika and many more. Some rubs are "no salt", some are "no sugar" and some use both. You can purchase rubs, make your own or like many aficionados, do both! The key is to find what you like and use it regularly.
Seasoning is the process of adding salt, herbs or spices to food to enhance flavor. Seasonings are salt, herbs and/or spices blended to create a specific flavor profile, style of cooking or ethnic dish. Salt is unique and many seasonings are created specifically with or without salt. Salt can be added before, during or after other seasonings, but one must always be careful to not add too much salt to a food or risk ruining it.
As with rubs, there are an infinite number of seasonings. Some are blended for a specific food (beef, pork, etc.), some are based on ethnicity (national, regional or local spice blends), some for balanced flavors in a recipe (saline, acidic, hot, etc.) and some simply based on a recipe or the chef's creativity.
Even within the confines of a specific seasoning, there can be limitless variations. Who has not eaten at an Indian restaurant and ordered Curry Chicken knowing your dish would taste a certain way. Yet in reality the word curry simply means spice blend and there are many types of curry: red, yellow, green, hot, vindaloo, Karnataka, Kashmiri, Maldivian, etc. etc.
The Art and Science of Creating Rubs
The Science of Recipe Creation
Enhancing the flavor of ribs, beef or other meat product with a rub does not happen by simply throwing together spices. A great rub is created by a process balancing core ingredients such as sugar and salt, with lesser amounts of ingredients such as paprika, chili powder and black pepper and then enhanced by any number of spices such as cayenne pepper, ground mustard, cinnamon, allspice and many, many more.
Adding, removing or changing the amount of any one ingredient will have an impact on the recipe. Once a recipe is created, it must be tested to find out whether it is successful.
The Process of Testing Rubs
Once a rub is created, it must be tested. Have you ever created a blend of spices that tastes really good when you smelled or tasted it, but the end result fell flat. Or you may have created a blend of spices that did not not impress when it was mixed, but when you tried it it produced spectacular results (hopefully you did not toss it before trying it).
This is the art and science of rubs. Thinking about what might work well together, making it and then testing it. And if it doesn't taste right, going back and adapting and then trying again. And if it completely misses the mark, starting from scratch.