There are a million bad jokes just ready to be fired off whenever the topic of “rubbing” and “sauce” comes up. I am sure you can fill those in yourselves. In the meantime, this is a serious topic – the essence of barbeque is “low and slow” and if you are going to cook something for any length of time, sauces are verboten until the very very very end. Otherwise they burn and break and generally turn out nasty.
Fortunately (even without slathering sauce all over the place like a grillhead*) there are a number of ways to get ancillary flavours into the food before and during cooking. Brining, marinades, injections, planking, herb beds – these all have their place. But the big daddy of adding flavour for some deep and rich barbeque is the rub. Rubs add flavour, texture, assist in tenderization, and give you a connection to the food that you just don’t get form the end of a brush. You can buy rubs, and there are a lot of good ones out there, but for fun and value you cant beat making your own. I will be posting my three “everyday” rubs here for your edification and enjoyment, and you can use them or modify them as you like. They are “meat specific” – one for pork, one for chicken, and one for beef, although one of them does have a real “all-purpose” flavour – and if you dont want to go to the trouble to mix and keep three different rubs around then I heartily recommend Ted Reader’s “Bone Dust” rub. It works on almost anything, and you can either buy it at your local grilling and barbeque supply store, or you can get the recipe here and mix up a tub or two of it yourself.
*NOTE TO GRILLHEADS: This goes for you, too. Dont be slapping sauce on your meat during the cook. Migrate yourself to rubs and you will see a huge difference in both your flavour and the texture of your stuff when it comes off the grill.