Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know Part 41

Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know Part 41

Using Spices, Rubs and Spiceblends to Barbecue

The Barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-q, and BBQ all refer to a cooking method, an Australian Institution, an outdoor party with foods cooked by this method, and often to any food cooked outdoors. In its purest form, barbecue uses indirect heat and a long, slow process breaking down tough cuts of meat into mouth-watering tender morsels. Different types of barbecuing use different meats, and more lately Vegetarian options that have spiced sauces, rubs , blends and flavourings, which are added at various times during cooking, smokes, equipment and fuel, and total cooking time. These all affect the final flavour and tenderness of whatever meat or item is barbecued. Barbecue techniques have been used worldwide, probably since humans first struck two rocks together and beheld the awesome power of fire. This began when our human ancestor called Homo erectus began cooking meat with fire about 1.8 million years ago. But barbecues the way that Aussies know them now meat cooked over a grill or more lately over a pit, covered in spices and basting sauce originated in the Caribbean.

The word barbecue comes from the language of a Caribbean Indian tribe called the Taino. Their word for grilling on a raised wooden grate is barbacoa. The word first appeared in print in a Spanish explorer’s account of the West Indies in 1526. Due to the known diets of the Indians in question, it’s likely that the first barbecue consisted of some sort of fish, creatures from the sea obviously being plentiful in the Caribbean. Besides used for cooking, the structure of sticks could also be used as an area for sleeping, storage, and shelter.

The first known instance of barbecue appearing in English print was in A New Voyage Round the World by William Dampier, published in 1697. In this case, it referred to the structure as a place for sleeping.

By 1733, it had started to mean a social gathering during which meat was grilled, as evidenced in B. Lynde’s diary that year: “Fair and hot; Browne, barbacue; hack overset.” About two decades later, in 1755, the word “barbecue” was entered into Samuel Johnson’s The Dictionary of the English Language. The entry reads: to ba’rbecue. A term used in the West-Indies for dressing a hog whole; which, being split to the backbone, is laid flat upon a large gridiron, raised about two foot above a charcoal fire, with which it is surrounded.

The Use of Spices in Barbecuing

In barbecuing, a rub is a mix of Spices, seasoning and flavouring ingredients that are combined and applied to the outside of meat , seafood, Vegetables or poultry before cooking.

Rubs can be wet or dry. Like brines, barbecue rubs consist of two primary flavours, salty and sweet. You can build on those, but salty and sweet are the foundation.

Rubs Are for When You Barbecue, Not Grill

Any use of rubs and Spiceblends ought to begin with clarifying the difference between grilling and barbecuing.

Grilling is a fast, high-temperature method suitable for cooking, for example, sausages, rissoles, patties, burgers or steaks.

Barbecuing is a slow, low-temperature , most typically 105c method you’d use to cook, for example, a whole pork shoulder or beef brisket.

There is a huge difference, and its misunderstanding leads to the common mistake that rubs should be used for grilling. No way Rubs and Spiceblends, whether they be wet or dry, are for when you barbecue, not grill.

This is because rubs and Spiceblends will burn in the scorching heat of a grill, leaving you with a blackened, smoky mess. Sugar is one of the primary components of a rub, and starts to burn at 125 c. Consider that steaks are grilled at 170 c, and chicken is better grilled at 185 c, and you’ll see why rubs/ Spiceblends and grilling don’t mix.

That’s why we use our rubs and Spiceblends for low-heat barbecuing and smoking, not grilling. For high-heat grilling, stick to a simple seasoning of Salt blends and freshly ground black Pepper.

The Flavouring Ingredients in Rubs and Spiceblends

Beyond salt and sugar, other rub and Spiceblend ingredients the we use at SHASHEMANE typically include Garlic and Onion powders, Cumin, Oregano, Paprika and various dried and ground Chilli powders. These last two contribute colour, heat levels as well as flavour. Colour is important because at 105c, meat is not going to turn brown via the Maillard reaction, which happens at temperatures of 145c or higher.

Since there is no set formula for the relationship between a piece of meat’s weight to its surface area, there is no formula for how much rub or Spiceblend you’ll need per Kilo of Protein being used. You simply want enough to cover the entire surface. Any excess simply won’t stick and will fall off. Fortunately our dry rub keeps for months in a cool, dry place.

We can, however, talk in terms of ratios. In general, a good rub or Spiceblend will combine equal parts by weight of Salt, black Pepper, Sugar, Chilli powders and aromatics including Paprika and Garlic powder, Onion powder, Cumin, Oregano, Mustard powder, etc.

The Big Question – Wet vs. Dry Rubs / Blends

Essentially, the choice of wet vs dry is mainly a choice relating to the end flavour you require. Which is to say, there is no way to add the flavour of Worcestershire sauce without using Worcestershire sauce. And since Worcestershire sauce is wet, you’re using a wet rub. The same goes for citrus juice and vinegars. Beyond that, liquid applied to the surface of a piece of meat is going to evaporate very quickly when exposed to heat. But though the liquid may evaporate, the flavour compounds it contained still remain. Thus the liquid is merely the medium for applying the flavour.

Oil ,another liquid doesn’t evaporate but other ingredients don’t dissolve in it, either. Therefore, an oil-based rub or blend (dry ingredients moistened with oil and formed into a paste) is using oil as a glue to adhere the dry ingredients to the surface of the meat or vegetable been cooked.

Remember, the flavours of the rub and Blends aren’t going any deeper than the outer couple of millimetres or two of the protein being used. That’s why SHASHEMANE EXOTICE SPICEBLENDS and rubs tend to be bold. We want you to apply enough flavour to the surface of the meat to season the entire meat.

Remember the difference between wet and dry rubs and Spiceblends, that is not the same as the difference between wet and dry barbecue. The former relates to the form of rub that is used, while the latter has to do with the use of sauce, either during the cooking, at the table, or both.

Wet rubs are more likely to seep into the meat’s juices than dry rubs. You can leave a dry rub on for as little as 30 minutes and then put it on the grill. And with a wet rub, you can have it marinate for several hours.

Sweetness Is the Key to Barbecue Rubs

Speaking of wet vs dry, Molasses is a great ingredient for making wet rubs. As the byproduct of refining raw Sugar into granulated white sugar, Molasses functions both as a glue and as a medium for sweetness. Which is brilliant, because barbecue is a slow, low-temperature affair, you don’t have to worry about the sugar burning.

Brown sugar, which is what you get if you mix white sugar with molasses is a standard foundation for dry rubs and Spiceblends. Because it is slightly moist, it forms a good glue between the meat and other ingredients in the rubs. Maple sugar and turbinado sugar are also good choices.

So to put it simply Rubs and Spiceblends can be a complex of ethnic Spice blends or as simple as Garlic salt and Pepper. They’re usually placed on meats before grilling to add flavour. Rubs shouldn’t overpower your meats and are usually just a blend of strong and mild flavours.

How to Cook with a Rub

Once your meat is coated with the rub, just place it right on the grill. Sugars can burn at 125 degrees so be careful with sugar rubs and make sure you spray a little cooking oil on the grates first.

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