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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Complete Guide to Baltimore Dry Rub Seasoning


Dry Rub on my food..
Big Fat Daddy's Dry Rub History Questions
I get asked a lot about giving advice, tips and tricks on dry rub seasoning. I guess that's because "Big Fat Daddy's Seasoning" also called "Dry Rub"  was the form of some early publicity, originally discovered by Steven Raichlen and featured in the NY Times.    Last year alone I counted 295 emails last year alone asking me dry rub questions.  I wrote a great article about the benefits of Dry Rub in one of the forums I belong to, but somehow it was lost or eaten by dust mites. So here we go, to answer all you dry rub users, dry rub wanna-bees or people who need more help with it. 

Welcome to My Dry Rub Wiki- based on your questions over the last year!

What is Dry Rub?

Believe it or not dry rub is just that, a dry blend of spices and seasonings (usually containing salt) that is rubbed on FOODS prior to grilling.

What are the benefits of Dry Rub? 

Salt and spice dry blends enhance the flavor of your food and acts as a marinade, soaking into the food and flavoring it--or enhancing the natural flavors in the food itself.

What foods can I use Dry Rubs on? 

It depends on the dry rub. Some rubs are made specifically for beef, or some for fish. Overall dry rubs can be used with veggies, game meats, bison, pork, beef, lamb, vegetables, kabobs, as seasoning in soups, on poultry, hams, etc. Not all dry rub does taste great with all meats or all veggies, so you have to experiment and find the ones you like to compliment the food you are eating.

How is it applied? 

As crazy as it sounds, you rub it on your food prior to cooking or grilling.

Application Tips: 

I suggest to sprinkle lightly on poultry, fish and veggies.  I'm not a fan for getting raw chicken on my fingers, nor rubbing fish as the fish can fall apart.  I do suggest to hand rub in a circular motion the dry rub onto pork, beef, and game meats to really get into the pores of the meat. Bond with your food!

Big Fat Daddys Pit Beef
Dry Rubed Marination can be combined with other marinades. The salt base rub soaks into the meat.

What about marination time? 

Unlike some people, I suggest a full 24-48 hours for marination on beef, chicken, poultry or game meats.  I know for a fact you get more flavor this way and less rub is needed because the rub has long to soak into the meat. I generally sprinkle it on veggies right as they are cut for grilling, and fish the night before.  Can you wait until the night before ? You can, but try it both ways. Grill the steak with an overnight marination, then with a two day marination and get back to me. You'll thank me for the 48 hour time, trust me.

Is it salty and what if I am on a restricted salt intake?

Some dry rub contains salts which will indeed have sodium, but only a small amount is needed if you apply it correctly. One teaspoon of my dry rub seasoning can easily marinate and flavor four steaks. So you are only eating one steak per person, that is really only ingesting .25 of a teaspoon per serving and not the whole thing is comprised of salt. So overall you should indeed gauge the salt intake on the label nutrition facts. Avoid products with unnatural flavor enhancers and steer clear of anti-caking agents. If you are making your own blend, cut salts in half for a low salt alternative.

big fat daddys
Read the package thoroughly to see if yours are presmoked and brined, or just fresh.

When NOT to use a "Salty" Dry Rub: 

Avoid using too much of it on pre-salted Turkey Legs (unsalted legs are okay, see a guide about turkey leg types here) or high content salty Ham shanks.  I also like it on lamb kabobs but not lamb shanks as I think lamb is a bit on the salty side. To each their own. For these items you may have to go with a mesquite rub, or other seasoning blend that is not so high in salt content.

Making your Own Dry Rub: 

You have to remember experimentation is key. Your base should be salty and flavorful, but not overtake the food.  Too much salt can really overpower the flavor and taste like hell.   The key here is to mix ingredients in small batch quantities and write down as you go. Call this first concoction  "Your Own #1." Try it on poultry, meats, fish, veggies and pork.  Let's say you may have a winner for one item (chicken), but not the other (pork), which is okay!  If you have written it down you will be able to duplicate it next time you make that special chicken dish or chicken soup! Now keep experimenting. Keep writing down ingredients and making in small batch quantities. Soon you will find the perfect "Your Blend #2", and so on and so forth.

pitmaster BigFatDaddys
I use the rub on all kinds of meats, and added a little maple powder for the ribs. Yummy.

What if My Dry Rubs Cakes Up? 

If you are using sugars, salts, or garlic salts/powders I can guarantee over time that your spice will cake up over time. For most of us, that's not a problem and a quick pinch will uncake it. For those of you who are using a shaker with small holes, add some rice into it. If this still bothers you, then you will need to either a) make in per serving small batch quantities or b) buy an Anti-Caking Agent.  I do not use them , but you may wish to explore the many alternatives on the market.

Why Don't You Use Anti-Caking Agents? 

The reason I don't, is I make small hand blended quantities to keep the spices fresh, and there have been some allergies to certain anti-caking agents. To me, they just aren't natural so why put them in? 


Why Doesn't My Dry Rub Concoction Taste Good on Everything? Can You Help Me?

First of all, don't feel bad! Not all taste buds are alike, and some seasonings don't sit well with some foods. It took me 6 years of experimenting to make my Big Fat Daddy's versatile Classic Dry Rub #1. That's a lot of trial and error. I can honestly say mine does taste great on beef, pork, ribs, chicken, turkey, game meats, fish, and veggies but the tricky part was finding something in a winning combination that didn't overpower the food. I also have alternates I use such as mesquite blend on some ribs and My #2 Fanny's Favorite which is a more sugary-sweet blend. So even I have a few options and you should too.  Keep trying! Go with what YOU think tastes good!

Is your Spice Gluten-Free?


Is the New York Times article really the Big Fat Daddy's dry rub? 

It is the basic recipe that my brother blabbed, but of course key ingredients are left out for proprietary sake.  You are welcome to view the basic recipe here.

dry rub

Why do some things say Wayne Schafer and some things  Brian Schafer?

The notoriety in the early 2000's was thanks to to my baby brother Brian blabbing the key ingredients of "family recipe" back in 2000 when he ran the pit beef stand on Route 40. Although I started Big Fat Daddy's, we would not see eye to eye working together. So by 2000 he ran the stand on 40 and I worked in the Big Fat Daddy's warehouse on Philadelphia Road.  By 2005 I gained back full ownership due to differences and Brian's health issues. He passed in 2014.  I continue to strive to keep Big Fat Daddy's on top of it's game, keeping my original vision for the company since I started, which is to constantly reinvent. 

Is the Big Fat Daddy's Dry Rub the Only Dry Rub You Use?

I have the Original Big Fat Daddy's blend, which I call #2. This was made in the old Pit Beef Days when there were two of us. Over the years however, I have adapted some more variations, which I use in special circumstances.
I have my Hers blend which incorporates a bit of sweetness (natural sugars) into the #2, my wife and I created this about eight years back.  I have my Cajun Blend which I created a few years back primarily to use on fish and sometimes in my slaw to make it a Cajun Slaw.   I have my Mesquite Blend which I perfected about a year ago and use when I'm low on the good wood and I want to cheat ha ha.  I have my special Maple Blend (for ribs)that I made a few years back.

When you get a good base, take it, and add to it.  Then you can experiment and tweak it to different tastes and styles. My dry rub you can pretty much use on everything, but after awhile I wanted to try something new. 

Where Can I Buy the Real Big Fat Daddy's Dry Rub?

I do not commercialize my seasoning or else I would be out of business because every BBQ guy would be selling and duplicating my food taste. I do get a lot of letters from people who are on the West Coast wanting to try my seasoning and so for them,  I do consider my spice gourmet and do sell it in hand blended small-batch quantities in my barbecue store. It is enough for you to make a few great dishes.  Not all blends are available.

Do you use other Dry Rubs and if so Which Ones? 

I would be lying to you if I only said I use my own. I'm a big fan of trying all kinds of bbq rubs dry rub blends, and seasonings when cooking at home. Believe it or not one of my all time favorites is Stubb's Herbal Mustard Blend on veggies and grilled chicken, (it's gluten free.)

My wife is a huge fan of Todd's Orignal Dirt and we put that in our Sweet and Sassy Chili Recipe. mmmm mmmm good!

If you have a question about dry rub ask me here. 

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