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Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow Crust: The Perfect Beef Dry Rub Recipe

mrs o'leary's cow crust

Before hitting the smoker or grill with a steak or other beef cut, take it over the top with this delicious wet rub seasoning paste.

Catherine O’Leary was a humble Irish immigrant living on Chicago’s near Southside. Late in the night of October 8, 1871 her barn caught on fire, and the conflagration spread on the wings of high winds through thousands of wooden structures. More than 2,000 acres were destroyed and 90,000 were left homeless. The Chicago Tribune reported that the cause of the Great Chicago Fire was Catherine’s cow Daisy kicking over a lantern.

Years later the story’s author admitted he made up the story, but Mrs. O’Leary’s cow continues to take the rap. So I have named this rub after her to help rehabilitate her reputation. 

Most spice rubs are a mix of herbs and spices and we rub them into the meat before grilling (Click here for The Science of Rubs). This beef rub starts out that way, but then we transform it into a thick paste. The idea is, by mixing spices in water we can extract more flavors and get them into the little pits and cracks on the surface of the meat. Normally marinades and rubs don’t go very deep into the meat, but they can seriously change the composition of the surface, and the use of water fills the microscopic gaps on the surface with flavor, and enhances browning and crust formation.

Since there is no salt in this recipe, (click here to read why our rub recipes do not have salt), salting the meat first is a must. This process is called dry brining. Salt will penetrate deep into meat so you should get it on in advance, perhaps overnight. The rest of the spices and herbs cannot penetrate very deep, so the rub can go on anytime, even just before you start cooking. The general rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon Morton Coarse Kosher Salt per pound/453.6 grams of meat (don’t include bone, and ribs are about half bone).

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Beef Rub Recipe


Cow Curst BBQ rub on cooked steak
Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
4.76 from 373 votes
Make any cut of beef sing with the addition of our world famous Cow Crust dry rub seasoning blend.

Serve with: beef and a bold red wine.


Course:
Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine:
American

Makes:

About 1/4 cup/37.9 grams
Servings: 48 1/4-teaspoon servings

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon American paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder
Notes:
About the rosemary. You can leave the leaves whole or break them a bit with your hands. I throw them into a mortar and pestle and crush them just a bit to release their flavors. If you have fresh, double the quantity and coarsely chop it.
About the chipotle. Don't be a wuss. This is only 1/2 teaspoon for 10 pounds/4.5 kilograms of meat, and it is all on the surface, not the interior. Like a viola, you don't notice it, but take it out of the orchestra and something is missing.
Optional. Add 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder to the dry mix and/or 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish to the paste.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Prep. Mix everything together in a bowl.
  • Storing the rub. If you are not using immediately, store in a jar for use later or proceed to the next step if you plan to use it now.
  • To use. Dry brine the meat hours in advance. When it is time to use the rub, you can use it straight, or mix 1 part of the dry rub with 1 part water to make a paste. (Note: You can use oil, but the herbs dissolve better in water).
    BBQ dry rub paste in a bowl
  • Pat the meat dry with paper towels, pour the paste on and rub it in. You can cook right away.

Nutrition

Calories: 1kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 6mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

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Published On: 4/27/2014 Last Modified: 10/4/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


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