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Should a rub taste good?

CrazyHarryCrazyHarry Posts: 112
edited 9:59AM in EggHead Forum
How's that for a provocative subject title? ;)

As we all know a rub really just flavors the outside of a piece of meat, so it would make sense to me that the flavors should be fairly intense. So intense, perhaps, that it might not taste very good alone.

The first time I cooked brisket I made a rub based on some directions I found online. (From a famous BBQ place in the south.) It was something like 2 parts salt, 2 parts pepper, and 1 part cayenne. It tasted pretty awful alone but was okay on the meat.

My biggest complaint about the larger meat dishes I've cooked is that they seemed to lack a little flavor. So do I need to make more flavorful rubs? Use more smoke?

(I bought some Famous Dave's Rib Rub and found it pretty tasty alone. But it seemed like it would be too mild on a big pork butt.)


  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,313
    rubs seem to mellow out and lose flavor during the cook. you can add more, add some towards the end while pulling or add some later in the cook, fresh rubs have more flavor, try some dizzy pig dizzy dust coarse. i put the rub on til the meat disapears, then a light coat of mustard, then another good coat of rub, seems to do the trick. if i want even more flavor i inject a vinegar style sauce loaded with the same rub when the butt is going thru the plateau. fresh rubs do make a big difference, if the pepper or cayenne is getting old its losing flavor before you even start
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    I have found some that taste terrible alone but good on cooked food.

    Some of the DP rubs and others taste good when used like salt and pepper on already cooked food.

  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,720
    I think you are pretty much right. Many rubs are going to be too intense so that by themselves they are unpleasant. Sort of like worcestershire is good dribbled over a steak, but nobody I know drinks a shot of it.

    Some of that pungency is diluted. Some, it seems, is cooked away, or modified. Garlic becomes mellow. Black pepper looses a lot of its bite.

    As a btw, I often test new rubs by mixing them with butter, and spreading them on toast. Most are pretty good, and make a nice quick snack.

    Flavor in rubs is often determined by the freshness of the spices in the rub, not just the quantity. Some folks I've read say that spices over 6 months old should be tossed. Certainly a lot of the amazing flavor in Indian cuisine is because a lot of the dishes start with fresh pepper, mustard, cardamom, coriander seeds, etc, that are roasted and/or ground at the beginning of the preparation. So maybe check the dates on the rubs you have.

    For me the limit is when the rubs and sauces have a greater presence than the flavor of the meat.After a certain point I do not add more spices. I did a very nice piece of organic chuck last weekend that I knew would have a fine strong flavor. In that case, I just used some salt, and added some black pepper when it was time to eat.

    Different woods produce stronger smoke effect than others. It appears that woods high in lignin content, very hard hard woods, produce the strongest flavor. I can tell the difference between ribs smoked with post oak, and those done with apple. So choose you woods well.
  • WokOnMediumWokOnMedium Posts: 1,376
    I don't know a room about rubs, so I'll leave that to the experts. W without knowing the kind of results your going for, and what your getting now, the question is broad one. For chicken thighs, I brine, rub, smoke, grill, and sauce ( pork tenderloin too). For butt i do as fishless stated:rub mustard rub, then I smoke with hickory, pull, add a little buttrub (to reheat I use coke and blues hog red.
    Stuff cloves of garlic into a hunk of meat, inject, rubs, spices, sauces, the sky is the limit. Practice by doing the same thing with a couple changes. I keep journal of what seemed to work and what I should try next time.
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