A dry rub for steaks before grilling makes all the difference in flavor and tenderness.
I always season my steaks in advance, usually the night before. This really lets the flavors of the rub “soak in” to the meat, and makes the final flavor bigger and richer. The bad thing about that, though, is that the salt will make the surface of the meat wet, right? We don’t want that wetness, because the water will prevent caramelization and grill marks, and cause the steaks to stick to the grill. So, the key is to pat the steaks dry and re-season a bit (if needed) just before grilling. This will give you the best of both worlds.
Truth be told, I rarely ever use a recipe when creating dry rubs. While the same core ingredients are always there, my pantry inventory determines the rest. Here’s the tried and true ratio that I’ve used for years with great success. I use ratios for rubs so that I can easily scale the total amount I make. Remember, this isn’t rocket surgery! Feel free to play and experiment and find your own favorite combinations.
“BIG PARTS” — These items are the core of the rub, and are used in the largest quantity.
1 part Kosher Salt
1 part Smoked Paprika
1 part Coarsely Cracked Black Pepper
1 part Chili Powder
1 part Granulated Garlic
1 part Onion Powder
1 part Mustard Powder
“SMALL PARTS” — These ingredients add subtle flavor and complexity, and vary depending on what I have on hand. They may also be omitted all together.
1 part Chipotle Pepper
1 part Cayenne Pepper
1 part Cinnamon
1 part Dried Oregano
1 part Brown Sugar
In terms of recipe measurements, I cut the quantity in half as I step down from big to medium to small parts. For example, if my “big part” amounts are 1 cup each, my “medium part” amounts would be 1/2 cup each, and “small parts” would be 1/4 cup each.
—By Brian Morris, Chef in Your Pocket