My post about the Carolina Vinegar-based sauce for smoked pork got me thinking about easy and reliable recipes that I use all the time. When Jeff Bridges was learning songs for the movie Crazy Heart, his friend gave him some songs to sing that he said were in his back pocket, meaning something you can pull out and use without thinking or trying too hard.
This barbecue rub, which Steve Raichlen calls the “Granddaddy of all barbecue rubs” is one I use all the time. It’s great on pork, but I also like it on chicken, beef and even a robust fish, like salmon. I usually make a double batch because it lasts for months and I keep some in my pantry, for an “in the back pocket” addition to any protein.
Since most meats, after you account for the type and grade, mostly taste the same, the only way to noticeably change or enhance the flavor is through a marinade or a rub. After it’s cooked, a sauce added can also add to the flavor, but I sometimes find when I use this rub, I don’t even need a sauce. Raichlen suggests letting the rub marinate on the meat for 2 to 4 hours first. This is from his book Barbecue Bible Sauces, Rubs and Marinades.
Basic Barbecue Rub
1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk to mix. Transfer to a jar, cover and store away from heat and light. The rub will keep for several months.
Makes 1 cup
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