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Understanding Rubs

I have experimented with a couple of simple rubs, but so far I have been disappointed and prefer to just throw my pork shoulder straight on the BGE without doing anything to it.

My main issue with rubs has been a loss of flexibility once I use a rub. When I cook a whole shoulder and eat on it over the course of a week, I like to try it with variety of sauces and in a variety of dishes. Not adding spices ahead of time gives me this flexibility. Also it is easier to not use a rub.

I feel like I must be missing something since most use rubs.  What is the advantage of using a rub compared to seasoning to taste afterwards?

Does salt serve some function during smoking and is better applied before cooking rather than to taste afterward?

Might I benefit from a simple rub that would go with everything compared to just spicing after cooking?

Comments

  • mimaulermimauler Posts: 119
    I'm now cooking almost everything entirely using just salt and pepper...try it some time.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,288
    I have seen a video of a BBQ pit crew that does season at the end after cooking a whole hog. The pit boss would add the seasoning till the samples had the flavor he wanted. Don't know if there was any salting done prior to the roasting.

    If you are smoking meats, a salt rub a day or 2 in advance does help the surface of the meat hold smoke, as does letting the meat surface dry.

    But, I think the practice you are seeing most people using is because they are making BBQ, not just cooking a pork shoulder. Can't have BBQ w/o some rub and wood smoke. And because BBQ is sort of a party food, it needs a "WOW" factor. A savory hunk of bark w. all the flavors baked into a crisp crust is a huge plus.

    But many rubs really are very simple. Some salt, some sugar, a little pepper, and if doing beef, sometimes even no salt. Seems like those flavors would work in most dishes.
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 6,020
    I simply break it down into two kinds of cooks, those that will be pretty much for one or two meals and those that will be for a number of meals. 

    Pulled pork is often flavored using BBQ sauces at our house. The leftover taste is determined by the sauce used. For most, the cook started with a mustard, salt and pepper rub. and that's it. 

    For the one meal wonders I go with a very distinctive rub and smoke. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • I cut my teeth in the BBQ world working in the kitchen at very well known BBQ restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama.  We smoked on average 20-30 butts a day.  Never put any rub on them.  Fat side up and let the fat flavor the meat.  This continues to be how I like to do them, which I guess makes me somewhat of a simplist when it comes to BBQ.  I also like to sample different store bought sauces, as well as experiment with my own, and the no rub method allows for this.
  • SteveWPBFLSteveWPBFL Posts: 1,264
    A friend commented to me the other day about BBQ. He said that when you're turning in a box for a BBQ competition the judges are going to sample it and rate it on a few bites and those need to have a wow factor. When you BBQ for yourself for a meal or in this case meals you don't necessarily want to cook the same as you would for a competition for many of the reasons you state but also you might not want to eat a half pound or so of wow factor and instead enjoy a simpler set of flavors. 
  • tjvtjv Posts: 3,270
    edited January 2013
    One of the things you loose if not seasoning before smoking is the infusion of the rub into the bark.  Some consider the bark the best eating on pork shoulder, no sauce required.   

    Another thing is some rubs are grainy and without time in the cooker, it's hard to get a coarse rub to break down, especially if seasoning before/after reheating couple days later. You can end up with a gritty bite.  But with that said, some folks will season the pork shoulder right after pulling the meat.  This helps spread the rub flavors over the entire shoulder.  Need to do this while the pork is fresh, hot and make sure the rub is a very fine granular mix.  I'll season pulled shoulder when I know it's going to be sauced.  Sauce helps mask the grittiness.  

    I would not worry about missing the salt while smoking.  Salt is universal, melts quickly on meat and has it's own way of enhancing flavor whenever added.  

    t

    www.ceramicgrillstore.com
    ACGP, Inc.
  • We use rub with basic flavors on our butts because we like the bark.  We freeze pulled pork for universal use in dishes like spaghetti, pizza and stew.  I have a homemade one I use or we use Dizzy Dust or Famous Dave's Rib Rub.  The rub doesn't overpower the spaghetti, pizza, stew...etc. 

    ........................................................................................

    Flint, Michigan.  Named the most dangerous city in America by the F.B.I. three years running.

  • Just use a basic salt, pepper and garlic seasoning and sauce it however you prefer at the table.

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 9,609
    The most traditional style of BBQ is how you typically do it, except on a whole hog over a pit. Smoke only, maybe some S&P. 

    Salt can help pull moisture through the meat due to it's influence on diffusion with water. Pepper for spice. There is nothing wrong with your way, but at that point, it's just a flavor enhancer.

    Personally, I do use a rub as well. To each there own. If you don't feel like your pork is missing anything, it's not. It doesn't matter what any of us say. The "best pork I've ever had" is subjective. If you do feel like your pork needs more, add spices one at a time; experiment with different herbs and peppers. Try adding sugar to a rub. See what works for you with your own palate. Personally, I love loading up my butt with spicy rub and then adding on hot and spicy sauce to give it layers and layers of unctuous heat. This would make my wife gag. That's why I save the sauce for myself. She at least likes the rub.

    Lastly, If you do want to try certain rubs, many brands offer inexpensive sampler packs that you can test out on something like a pork chop or piece of chicken or beef. That way you can find one that works without "wasting" money on something you'll never use again. 
  • SmokinDAWG82SmokinDAWG82 Posts: 1,704
    Pork butts I usually just go salt and pepper, Ribs I go heavy rub and brown sugar. It depends on the meal but most important it depends on what tastes good to you. There is no "WRONG" way to do it
    LBGE
    Go Dawgs! - Marietta, GA
  • Years ago, when I had hair, and the hair I had wasn't gray, I used rubs all the time. Today, after 20 years of ceramic cooking, I use salt, pepper, occasionally some chayene, and once in a while I use a bit of brown sugar. Now I will spend a considerable amount of time putting together a great sauce, but it is always served on the side. No fancy rubs for me.
  • DuganboyDuganboy Posts: 1,118
    I want my flavor to come from the rub and the smoke.  I use little to no sauce. If you are going to depend on the sauce for the flavor, you could just do the meat in a crock pot.

    As stated above, cook to suit your family and friends. There really is no wrong way, if the finished product suits you and the folks eating.
  • Just use a basic salt, pepper and garlic seasoning and sauce it however you prefer at the table.

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,516
    Years ago, when I had hair, and the hair I had wasn't gray, I used rubs all the time. Today, after 20 years of ceramic cooking, I use salt, pepper, occasionally some chayene, and once in a while I use a bit of brown sugar. Now I will spend a considerable amount of time putting together a great sauce, but it is always served on the side. No fancy rubs for me.

    You sayin' rubs made you go bald? :-O

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • Little Steven said: CeramicChef said: Years ago, when I had hair, and the hair I had wasn't gray, I used rubs all the time. Today, after 20 years of ceramic cooking, I use salt, pepper, occasionally some chayene, and once in a while I use a bit of brown sugar. Now I will spend a considerable amount of time putting together a great sauce, but it is always served on the side. No fancy rubs for me.
    You sayin' rubs made you go bald? :-O No Steven he said rubbing
    it makes you go bald  :\">
    www.finandflame.com

    www.oldfishinglure.com
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,516
    I thought that made you grow hair....on your palms.....I am just soooo confused

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

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