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 and BBQ beef ribs can 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.
As background for this recipe, please read my article on the Science of Rubs.
Makes. About half a cup
Takes. About 10 minutes
3 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons American chili powder or ground ancho
1 teaspoon ground chipotle or cayenne
About the black pepper. Grind the pepper coarsely. I use a pepper mill that is adjustable. I then sift it through a strainer and put the fine stuff in a pepper shaker for use at the table.
About the chili, ancho, chipotle, and cayenne. I'm looking for complexity with different flavors and 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. Store the rub in a tightly sealed bottle in a dark place. It will slowly start to decline in quality but should be fine up to a year later. Taste it first.
2) Most foods, especially meats, need salt, so make sure to salt the meat before you apply the rub. The salt should go on the brisket the day before, and the rub can go on shortly before the cook. Apply about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound the day before so it has time to penetrate. Apply the salt more heavily on the thick parts than the thin parts. Then, before you cook, apply a thin layer of oil to the meat, and then the rub. Many cooks use mustard under the rub as a binder, but I prefer oil because most of the ingredients are oil soluble and there is no oil in mustard. The rub will not penetrate very far, it is mostly a surface treatment. Moisture and oils will mix with the spices and herbs, heat will work its magic on them, and all will be wonderful. Spread the rub generously on beef brisket leaving the meat show through just a bit.
This page was revised 2/23/2015
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