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Meathead's Memphis Dust Rub Recipe


memphis dust on ribs
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Here's my recipe for a great all purpose pork rub. It is carefully formulated to flavor, color, and form the proper crust when cooked at low temps. Try it on chicken, fish, and vegetables too. The amount here is enough for about 24 slabs of ribs when using 2 tablespoons rub per slab. Use enough to cover the meat surface but still let some meat show through. Store the extra rub in a zipper bag or a glass jar with a tight lid.

Course:
Sauces and Condiments
Cuisine:
American

Makes:

About 2 1/2 cups/591.5 ml
Servings: 480 1/4 teaspoon servings

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup American paprika
  • ¼ cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary powder
Notes:
About the sugar. I encourage readers to experiment with recipes, and "no rules in the bedroom or dining room" is my motto, but I have gotten some emails that require a response. I appreciate that many of you feel the need to reduce sugar in your diets but sugar is in the recipe for more than flavor enhancement, it helps form the crust (called bark by the pros), an important part of the texture of the surface of ribs and smoke roasted pork. It mixes with the moisture and caramelizes making special unique flavors.
There are only about 2 tablespoons of rub on a large slab. Of that about 1 tablespoon is sugar. Some of it falls and drips off during cooking. If you eat half a slab, you're eating about 1 teaspoon of sugar. The glycemic load (GL) is about 3. Compare that with a slice of white bread with a GL of 10.
And for those of you who object to white sugar for non-dietary reasons, and use brown sugar instead, you need to know brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added. It is not unrefined sugar as many people believe. I use brown sugar for the flavor and white sugar because it improves the bark.
If you want to cut back on carbs, leave off the sweet barbecue sauce. It has a lot more sugar than the rub. Switch to a Lexington sauce which is mostly vinegar, or just eat the pork with rub and no sauce. It's mighty good that way.
Bottom line: This recipe is a very successful rub from a taste and chemistry standpoint. I urge you to make it as specified the first time.
About the rosemary. Several readers tell me they hate rosemary and leave it out. Trust me, it hides in the background and you will never know it is there. But it is. It is subtle and important in this blend. Substitute thyme or oregano if you must, but I think rosemary is the best choice. If you can find ground rosemary, well, it is hard to find. So just grind the rosemary leaves in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder or a blender. It will take 2 to 3 tablespoons of leaves to make 2 teaspoons of powder. Again, please don't leave it out.
About the ginger. Like the rosemary, I think ginger is a very important ingredient. If you don't have any, get some.
About the paprika. If you read my discussion of paprika by clicking this link you'll learn about the different kinds of paprika. In short, garden variety grocery store paprika has little flavor and is used mostly for color. But fresh Hungarian or Spanish paprika have mild but distinctive flavors. In many European countries, paprika is hot. Not in the US. If you wish, you can use smoked paprika, especially good if you are cooking indoors, or even mix in some stronger stuff like ancho (slightly spicy), chipotle powder, cayenne, or chili powder (not very hot). Chipotle can be quite hot, so be thoughtful of who will be eating your food. I usually go easy on the heat in deference to the kids and wimps (like me) and add it to the sauce or put chipotle powder on the table for the chile heads.
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
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 the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. If the sugar is lumpy, crumble the lumps by hand or on the side of the bowl with a fork. If you store the rub in a tight jar, you can keep it for months. If it clumps just chop it up, or if you wish, spread it on a baking sheet and put it in a 225°F/107.2°C oven for 15 minutes to drive off moisture. No hotter or the sugar can burn.
  • Since our rub recipes contain no salt (we explain why in the headnote above), we recommend you sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of Morton Coarse Kosher Salt per pound/453.6 grams of meat up to 12 hours in advance. For most meats, dampen the surface of the meat with water and sprinkle enough Meathead's Memphis Dust on to coat, but not so much you can't see the meat below. Apply the rub thick enough to make a crunchy crust. Keep your powder dry as the old expression goes. To prevent cross-contamination, one hand sprinkles on the rub and the other hand does the rubbing. Don't put the hand that is rubbing into the powder or use it to hold the bottle.

Meathead's Whole Hog Dust

  • If you are doing whole hog on a cinderblock pit over direct heat, you don't want to risk the sugar burning, so use the same recipe for Meathead's Memphis Dust but omit the sugars.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25teaspoon | Calories: 3kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 56IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg