Monday, June 9, 2008

Dry rubs, outdoor grills and Whoopi cushions

My middle son, Liam, is very 13. He devises battle implements out of broken garden tools, asks for permission to take apart the old microwave oven and sets boobie-traps using sewing thread. The other night, I 'tripped' one of those boy-traps.
Walked up the driveway after work and noticed a message scrawled on a post-it, attached to a beer bottle that was sitting on the antique milk box on the back porch. The placement, overwrought design and 'bait' had me smelling a rat, but, I proceeded. Two steps later, a sewing thread trip wire stretched across my chest and snapped. I stood frozen, waiting for a guillotine to slam down or a pit of pungie sticks to open up.
Then, a head popped out of a doorway, "Dang, it didn't work!"
"Hey son, what are you up to?" I asked.
"The string was supposed to make a cinder block fall on a whoopie cushion...guess it was too heavy." Brendan, our 10 year old, grabbed the cushion and placed it under his arm, activating the desired noise.
"Doesn't work as good under your arm, Dad, but, it's still pretty realistic," Brendan chuckled, "here, I'll sit on it."
And we, all three of us 'boys' laughed like heck as Brendan and Liam took turns impressing me with their simulated bodily emanations, complete with facial contortions.
I reached into the fridge, cracked a beer and leaned on the kitchen counter as Brendan laughed himself silly reinflating and deflating the whoopie cushion.
"Dad," he giggled, "I can't wait for summer and putting this under people's chairs outside. It's gonna be SO funny!"

Yeah, I thought, I can't wait for summer either, but, my thoughts usually run towards my grill and a good dry-rub. I love creating a rub that suits the day and the food. Sometimes a sweeter or more aromatic concoction is in order. Other times, spice is the name of the game. Outdoor cooking is as varied as your imagination; I'd like to help with a couple of guidelines.
I have a basic formula for all dry-rubs and then spin-off variations from there.
Give these a shot the next time you fire up the Weber and reach for a piece of salmon or a thick bone-in pork chop.
Just check your seat cushion if you swing by our house...

Dry-rub Base Blend
1 C Kosher Salt--(saltiness)
1/8C Black Pepper, whole--(heat)
1/8 C Red Chile flake--(heat)
1/4 C Paprika--(color)

Additional Variations (add to above recipe), 1/8 Cup=2 Tablespoons
1/8C Allspice--(sweet spice)
1/8C Clove--(sweet spice)
1/8C Fennel Seeds, freshly ground--(aromatic spice)
1/8C Cumin Seeds, freshly ground--(aromatic spice)
1/8C Coriander Seeds, freshly ground--(aromatic spice)
1/8C Basil, dry--(sweet herb)
1/8C Thyme, dry--(savory herb)
1/8C Oregano, dry--(savory herb)
1/8C Tumeric, ground--(yellow coloring spice)

Take the Base recipe and add your additional ingredients as you think you might like. Purchase all your herbs and seeds whole and grind them in a coffee mill--takes two seconds and you will have remarkably fresh flavors.
Guard your spice mill with zealous fervor; someone may want to wash it, to 'clean' it. That's like scrubbing your cast iron with steel fiber to get the seasoning off every time you use it. Just rip my heart out, puh-LEEZ!

These aren't huge batches so you won't be stuck with a dud if you make something you don't particularly care for.
Ease into it. Don't put all the ingredients listed above into a Nuclear Dry-Rub. More is not better.

Have fun and remember...
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends...
the Best Things in Life aren't Things."

Take care and God bless,
Chef BQ.

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