Smoking Again (and recipe for BBQ Rub)

Smoking Again (and recipe for BBQ Rub)

I’ve started again. My wife makes me do it outside and when I come in she complains ‎that I reek of it. I can’t help myself, really. I give it up every year, usually around ‎November, but I start in again about May. I’m not particular about what I smoke. ‎Sometimes it is the cheap stuff other times I splurge on something really special to smoke. ‎Part of the attraction, I think, has to do with the ritual. There’s quite a bit of paraphernalia ‎that goes along with it.‎

I suppose I smoke because I grew up around it - my stepfather was a smoker. I ‎remember sitting with him on the front patio watching him smoke and longing for the day ‎when I was old enough to smoke just like him. I’m sure my boys will be smokers too and ‎I’m already teaching them the basics. If all goes as planned, they should be smoking by ‎the time they are twelve.‎

Before you call Child Protective Services, I should probably let you know that I’m ‎talking about smoking food. A perfect warm-weather Saturday for me is spending up to ten ‎hours smoking a brisket or pork shoulder at about 225 degrees, using a combination of ‎lump hardwood charcoal and water-soaked hickory and mesquite woods chips.

The home front is not the only place where my obsession emerges. When I spot a BBQ ‎restaurant I open the car windows, no matter what the temperature is outside, and ‎administer the smoke test. If I can’t smell smoke, I drive on. I know lots of ‎places have these high-dollar indoor smoking systems that don’t emit any outdoor ‎olfactory smoke signals, but call me old fashioned - I want to smell the stuff from three ‎blocks away.‎ 

I’ve also been known to get sidetracked when visiting another neighborhood either ‎paying a social call or running an errand. If my smoke-hound nose picks up on a scent, ‎I’ll cruise the neighborhood until I find the origin.

There is a lot to smoking - keeping the temperature low, refreshing the fire, adding wood ‎chips, mopping whatever it is your smoking, and lots, lots more. It can be an all-day ‎affair with large items like brisket, pork shoulders, and whole turkeys. Smaller items like ‎ribs, fish, and chicken cook much more quickly. Last weekend I smoked several chicken ‎breasts and they were ready in about an hour.

Another important component is the seasonings put on the meat prior to smoking. I prefer ‎what is called a dry rub. Over the years I’ve experimented with several variations and ‎I’ve finally settled on one that works great with brisket, chicken, and especially pork - ‎ribs and shoulders. This stuff is magic - like pixie dust for pork. I’ve also used this rub ‎indoors when roasting meats and it works very well.‎

If you’re not a smoker all ready, I urge you to give it a try. If you don’t know how to get ‎started, drop me a note or give me a call and I’ll be happy to help. In the mean time, ‎whether you are smoking or not, you may want to try my soon-to-be-famous All-Purpose BBQ Dry Rub.

Soon-to-be-Famous All-Purpose BBQ Dry Rub 

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar* ‎

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika ‎

  • 3 tablespoons smoked black pepper** ‎

  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder ‎

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder ‎

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon ‎

  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds ‎

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper‎

Mix all this together and rub it into ribs, pork shoulder, or whatever else you are putting ‎on the grill. After applying the rub, let the meat cure for at least an hour. Overnight is ‎even better. ‎ ‎

*Lately I’ve been making this with sugar substitute. Usually the baking version of Splenda. It changes the flavor profile a little bit because the Splenda is more like white than brown sugar but using it makes this carb free.

**Note, the smoked black pepper is not a necessity. Regular pepper will do, but the smoked stuff really adds a layer of flavor. It is available online from Marshalls Creek Spices.

Published in quality newspapers during the week of May 17, 2010

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