Dry Rubs for a Backyard Cookout

Plan ahead and the party will be more fun -- for you!

By FamilyTime


When you are planning a backyard cookout, it pays to get some of the work done ahead of time.

One of the best ways to do so is to use dry rubs and moist pastes to add bold flavor to foods, particularly meat or poultry destined for the grill. Apply them up to 24 hours in advance for mouth-watering results! (This also makes your life easier.)

Dry rubs and pastes are kissin’ cousins to marinades but don’t contain the acid in the form of vinegar, wine, or citrus juice. As expected, they are not liquid and don’t bathe the food  – but their flavors tend to be even more intense.

Dry Rubs
Dry rubs are mixtures of dried herbs and spices. These ingredients are combined in  compatible mixturesand as such can take on the characteristics of various cuisines.

For example, a Mediterranean-style rub will contain dried thyme and rosemary, while a Caribbean rub will include cumin, coriander, and ground red pepper.

Dry rubs can be mixed in quantity and stored in a glass jar for repeated use. Hold the jar in a cool, dry place and keep the rub for several months. Discard any rub that comes into contact with raw meat, poultry, or fish.

When a dry rub is moistened with a little chopped fresh ginger or garlic, a spoonful of mustard, or a few drops of oil, it takes on a paste-like consistency. Pastes adhere more easily to food than rubs and so many home cooks prefer them.

Pastes, too, can be mixed in quantity and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Discard any paste that has come in contact with raw food!

Rubs and Pastes at Home
The best way to make rubs is to grind the dried herbs and spices in a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder. You can also mash the ingredients with a wooden spoon, if you don’t have a pestle. Mini food processors work quite well, too, although full-sized processors tend to be too big and the ingredients never get well chopped.

Once the ingredients are mixed, use them right away or store them.

To make a paste, mix the dry ingredients and then stir in the wet ones. Don’t expect these to blend as readily as a marinade. You might have to work to achieve paste-like status.

Rub the mixture evenly over the food. For spicy rubs or pastes, use a light hand.  

Cover the food or enclose it in a plastic bag. Refrigerate it for up to 24 hours (less for delicate cuts such as boneless chicken breasts or fish). During that time the salt and other ingredients will draw out moisture from the food so that it literally marinates in its own flavored juices.

The sky is the limit when it comes to rubs and pastes. Use you imagination, think about your favorite flavors, and have fun. No one will be disappointed!