RIb rubs. Smoked ribs, barbecue... Blah blah blah. Rubs have been done to death but... they are popular for a reason. Pork literally sings under the influence of a good rub. Pork is the perfect canvas for painting layers of flavor.
A good rub is also a marinade. It flavors the meat and ultimately protects it from drying out during the lengthy cooking process needed to produce a truly tender rib.
Would you look at these sexy pork loin back ribs?
Back in the day my husband and I always had various rubs lying around. We got 'em from family and friends. They always had macho man names like Big Mike's Pork Junk or something equally tacky. They tasted like smoky salt and collected dust on a shelf in the pantry.
Then we grew up and started mixing our own rubs. It was very unscientific -- a little of this and a little of that -- and didn't always taste particularly good. Too much of any one thing will ruin the flavor profile. When we did hit on a good rub, we could never remember what we put into it.
We had a neighbor back in Dallas named Radar. He made rubs for every meat he grilled. Lemon pepper and garlic for chicken, and chili and cumin based for pork. Could that man cook. I digress...
I'm 20+ years from my first rub experience so I think it's time to create a base recipe. No more, 'was that cumin or coriander?' questions. What I'm going to do is break down a rub into mix-and-match components.
I'll use tablespoons for the base measure.
Jersey Girl's Meat Rub Formula
1 T kosher salt
1 T sugar (preferably raw)
5 T of any combination of spices that moves you
1 T of any combination of fiery spices like cayenne or pepper flakes
That should do it. Think about flavor pairings like cumin and coriander with turmeric.
Or, grind bay leaves and black pepper with cumin for an exotic, yet accessible rub.
For my ribs, I used chili powder, cumin,* granulated garlic, granulated onion, mesquite seasoning (without salt), oregano, Korean red pepper flakes, salt and sugar.
It was a little boring so I added another tablespoon of chili powder.
I rinsed, dried and scored (slashed with a knife) the backside of the ribs. Then I cut 'em half (to facilitate storage in my really full fridge), rubbed 'em and let 'em marinate in the cooler.
They marinated for nine hours.
It was Jay Lake's annual JayCon birthday bash so CeeLee and I didn't put the ribs on the grill to smoke till close to 9 pm. I think we ate at midnight. They smoked for 90 minutes and finished in a cool (250 degree) oven for another hour.
Wow! They were wonderful. For dinner and breakfast the following morning.
For the record, I smoked them in alder and cherry wood using the Weber grill. I pushed the coals to the edge of the grill, creating a donut of fire. A stainless steel bowl of water in the center helped keep the temp even. The soaked wood chunks went right on to the coals. I sealed the grill by closing all the vents and let 'er rip, untouched, for 90 minutes.
The ribs went into the oven wrapped in foil, and baked for an hour or so.
They came out super tender and a little salty so I scaled back the salt in the final recipe.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em and Love Big.
* My mom hates it when I say stuff like this in my blog but, to me, cumin smells like men and sex. Very masculine and very sexy.