A beef brisket flat with heavy rub, before (above) and after (below) cooking.
Beware of double salt jeopardy!
Rubs and spice blends are a great way to add flavor to meat. Rubs almost always contain salt because salt amps up flavor and helps form a crust (click here to read about The Zen of Salt). Brines are also a great way to add flavor as well as moisture (click here to read about The Zen of Brines). Meat that is labeled "enhanced" or "flavor enhanced" or "self-basting" or "basted" has been injected with a brine at the packing plant. Kosher meat has also been treated with salt at the plant. You can use a rub on brined or kosher meats, but beware of double salt jeopardy. A salty rub on top of brined or kosher meat can make it unbearably salty. If you use brined or kosher meat and then a rub, you should make your own rub and leave the salt out of the blend. Also, be aware that the drippings from a brined meat or a meat rubbed with a salty spice blend will probably not need salting, so if you make a gravy from drippings, be sure to taste before you add salt. Remember, you can always add salt, but you can't take it away.
Big Bad Beef Rub
"I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summmer to and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in the past 6 months)! My brisket even won 'best beef' in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair this year (2010)." Larry Vito of BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastapol, CA
In Texas many barbecue joints use just plain old salt and pepper, called Dalmatian rub. But beef brisket can and BBQ beef ribs handle, and benefit from, a more potent mix. The rub creates a rich, flavorful, crunchy crust, called the bark or Mrs. Brown.
Beef rub is different than pork rub. Pork loves sweetness, but beef does not. The best pork rubs have of more sugar in them, like Meathead's Memphis Dust. Black pepper, on the other hand, works great with beef.
You can make this recipe days or weeks in advance. It makes more than you need for even a large brisket, so you can just put it in a clean jar or zipper bag.
Makes. About half a cup
Preparation time. About 10 minutes
3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili or ancho powder
1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder
About the black pepper. Lately I've been grinding my black pepper and then sifting it. I use the coarse stuff, and put the fine stuff in a pepper shaker.
About the chile powders. I'm looking for complexity with two different flavors and two different levels of heat. Most American chili powders and ancho powders do not have a lot of heat, but good flavor. In fact, ancho is usually in a lot of American chili powders. Go with ancho if you can find it. It has a nice raisiny character. With chipotle or cayenne I'm after a kiss of heat. Chipotle has better flavor though.
1) Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.
2) Lightly oil the meat with vegetable oil. Many of the flavors in the rub are oil soluble and the oil helps penetrate the meat. So does the salt, so don't leave it out. Spread the rub generously on beef brisket, not so thick on other, thinner cuts. You can apply it just before cooking or let it marinate on the meet overnight. Heck, I've left meat sit under this stuff for days. Fact is it doesn't penetrate a lot, but every little bit helps.
This page was revised 3/20/2009
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