A rub here, a rub there

April 28, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

"Ay, there's the rub," Hamlet said.

William Shakespeare's tragic hero was contemplating large life issues - not how to season meat for the grill.

Today's question, "To rub, or not to rub," is much simpler.

We're talking cooking meat here, and, if you believe the experts who offered opinions, the answer is a resounding and flavorful "yes."

A rub is a mix of seasonings pressed onto the surface of uncooked meat before cooking. Dry rubs are made up of herbs, spices and other seasonings. Paste-type rubs consist of dry seasonings held together with small amounts of ingredients such as oil, crushed garlic, mustard, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and horseradish.


Rubs flavor the meat. They can seal in juices and, as in "blackening," form a crust.

Rubs can be applied to the meat right before it is cooked. The rub's flavor will be more pronounced if applied and the meat refrigerated several hours before cooking.

Roger Martin sells a variety of commercially produced meat rubs at his Hagerstown market, Penn Avenue Meats, and he uses rubs in home grilling.

Marinades also add flavor, but they differ from rubs by soaking into the meat.

"We try not to hide the beef flavor," he said. "We don't mess with the meat."

Martin wondered if people are getting tired of tomato-based barbecue sauces. Rubs offer another alternative.

Using rubs - and pastes - is one of the grilling methods recommended by Bill and Cheryl Jamison in their new cookbook, "Chicken on the Grill: 100 Surefire Ways to Grill Perfect Chicken Every Time."

How about pork?

Years ago, Pectonville resident Russell Schwartz developed a blend of spices to season sausage he sold at the Old South Mountain Inn, the Boonsboro restaurant he used to own. In January 2002, he began to have his "magic" concoction - Russell's Famous Pork Seasoning - bottled. Since 2003, he's sold thousands of bottles in 14 Wal-Mart Supercenters and 49 Food Lion stores, he said.

The product, a blend of sage, thyme, nutmeg, ground coriander and other spices, is versatile. It can be used as a rub on meat and to season a variety of foods - popcorn to fried green tomatoes to scrambled eggs. It can be used before, during and after cooking, Schwartz said.

Last January, Russell's Famous had a name change and its creator changed the labels. Too often, people would tell Schwartz they don't eat pork.

The product's new name reflects its adaptability. For information on Russell's Famous All Purpose Seasoning, go to on the Web.

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