Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What makes a Dry Rub good or great for smoking?

what makes a dry rub better than another
Dry Rub Pour
First let's start with what exactly is as we consider what makes a dry rub good for smoking?  A Dry Rub Defined: a mixture of herbs and spices and similar dry ingredients that are 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 grilled or broiled. So, when we say what makes it good? That can be somewhat subjective since each of us has a different level of sensation especially where our palates are concerned. But what we know is that each of us technically can discern the difference between sugar, salts, spices, and herbs. And so when we say that a dry rub is "good". What we are in fact complimenting is the expression of those salts or peppers on our palate.

The most basic of dry rubs is the use of salt and pepper.  The dictionary defines salt as a savory component that is a white crystalline substance that gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food.  Whereas pepper is defined as being pungent, hot-tasting powder or granules prepared from dried and ground peppercorns, commonly used also to spice food or is reserved as a condiment for the purposes of adding flavor.  Each of these elements serves their individual needs however, when added to foods they present themselves and additionally heighten the flavors of that item they are added to.

In the case of dry rubs we focus on the big four, salts and peppers that are combined with additional sugary, and spice laden elements to create flavor as the dry rub is tasted on the palate.

But in basic terms a good dry rub is one that takes advantage of the very nature of each of these elements presenting them in balance drawing out the natural flavor of the meat.  Much like a musical composition a good dry rub has levels of flavor built into it.  And much like wine the dry rubs first notes can be determined on the palate first with its individual saltiness, followed by an herb note and complimented with sugars either white or brown and finally a pepper laden note.  A good dry rub takes advantage of the science afforded it and seeks to draw out the best flavors of the meat it is presented on.  But dry rubs alone are not enough to improve the flavor of the meat.  First one must start with a reasonable cut that is properly trimmed and prepared.

When it comes to smoking meats and the use of dry rubs we look to the big four to take their place.  Smoking in itself is a science but when combined with salts, peppers, sugars, and spices takes on "a whole nother level".  The critical elements are ensuring that the dry rub doesn't conflict with the desired end result of the seasoning blend.  A dry rub that is heavily laden in sugar might not be the right fit for wood smoke that is strong in ash or black walnut.  The fact that the wood may impart a bitter taste to the food is enough to reconsider the type of wood used.  Better woods for sugary laden dry rubs might be cherry or apricot that adds a mild almost hickory note that goes well with poultry and pork.

dry rub on ribs smoked barbecue
Dry Rub on BBQ Ribs

Dry rubs that are laden in salts and herbs may well benefit from smoking woods like Apple, Almond and Citrus varieties.  One wood type that gets very little air time is Grapevine.  I've used grapevines a number of times and the smoke that is derived from the bark is almost sweet in flavor aromatic with hints of sweet grapes.  A truly awesome wonder wood type for smoking.

But back to our primary topic: What makes a Dry Rub good or great for smoking?  The end result is the trigger for finding the right type of wood.  Whether you're focus is to smoke steaks, ribs or chops each has its own brand or type of wood that favors smoking.  For Steaks it's important to impart an almost earthiness to the meat much like that which is delivered when using Hickory or Red Oak.  For ribs one wants to truly taste the pork goodness and only woods like Almond, Peach, Plum, Apple and Red Oak deliver that rich smokiness that matches the sugars, salts, herbs and spices of the dry rub.

When properly paired with wood smoke a dry rub can impart a sense of luxury and extravagance to the meat.  We've paired our best dry rubs with some key wood types to help you in your decision making.  See our listing below as a guide.

Tri Tip Steak and Rib Rub  (Almond, Red Oak, Cherry, Peach, Plum, Maple)

Santa Barbara Rub (Alder, Apricot, Grapevine, Mesquite, Orange, Pecan)

San Ysidro Rub (Red Oak, Almond, Peach, Grapevine, Mesquite, Pecan, Pear)

Santa Maria Dry Rub (Almond, Peach, Red Oak, Mesquite, Hickory, Lemon)

Memphis Blues Dry Rub (Almond, Peach, Grapevine, Hickory, Cherry, Maple, Grapefruit)

California Chipotle Dry Rub (Peach, Plum, Cherry, Apple, Grapevine, Red Oak, Almond)

California Chicken Dry Rub (Almond, Red Oak, Mesquite, Cherry, Apple, Grapevine, Maple, Mulberry)

Of course these dry rubs are designed to impart just the right amount of flavor at just the right time. But the real test is in the results you will receive.

Last but not least is the mental imagery that one receives when you try out your very favorite dry rub.  I often tell people that barbecue is about memory and a form of that muscle memory for the palate and the brain.  Most people will gravitate to experiences they had when they were young children especially where barbecue is concerned.  Each of us is trying to bring back our most favorite experience and that absolutely awesome, burger, steak, ribs, chops or whatever that item might be.  We at Jake's Famous understand that mental focus and our products are designed with that key element in mind.  We are constantly working to get your mind and thoughts back to happier experiences be it without Famous barbecue sauces, our amazing dry rubs or our award winning condiments.

The real key to what makes a dry rub good or great is the memory it holds for the user.  We believe that you will enjoy making memories with each and every one of our products.

Happy Barbecuing,

Jake's Famous Foods

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