This is the spice rub that got me stopped at airport security yesterday after visiting my parents in New Jersey.
“Excuse me, miss, we’re going to have to take a look in your bag.”
The security checkpoint guy reached deep into my carry-on and pulled out the one pound container of spice rub that I had crammed in there.
I sheepishly explained, “It’s my brother’s spice rub. He won’t give me the recipe, so I have to stock up when I can.”
My security guy gave a chuckle. “That’s funny, but I still gotta test it, ok?”
He proceeded to pour a little bit out onto a test strip and did some sort of chemical analysis. If only he could tell me what was in that rub, we could nip this whole thing in the bud.
After confirming that the mystery mixture I was smuggling didn’t contain any methamphetamines, the guy affirmed, “It smells good. It smells REALLY good.”
Tell me something I don’t already know, mister.
While it kills me that I don’t have a recipe for Terence’s Secret Spice Rub, I did manage to squeeze a few answers out of him. Here’s what big bro had to say:
What inspired you to make this rub?
The inspiration comes from wanting to break free from the shackles of store-bought products. I was always adding stuff to seasonings, tweaking this and that, so I said to myself: If Mr. Lawry and Mrs. McCormick can do it, so can I. A lot of the flavors are inspired by Bobby Flay — combining sweet and savory and spicy, bold flavors up front and subtle tastes that linger after you finish your bite.
Tell me about the first time you made your spice rub.
it started with my first New Year’s Eve with Katie. We invited a few couples over for our first “old people’s” New Year’s. We hosted so I decided we needed some kind of entree, not just picking at apps. I had made chili, which inspired some of the flavors for the rub. I dunno why I decided on pork tenderloin, it just seemed like a good complement to the beer and whiskey.
The pork brined overnight, so I had all night and day to think about what kind of flavors to use. I wanted smoky and earthy, sweet and some slow rolling heat. The rub sits on the meat for 1 hour as the meat comes to room temp. It is then slow-roasted in the oven on a sheet pan, sliced thin, and placed on a cracker or crostini. The pork was meltingly tender, the crostini added crunch for texture…and that mix of flavors just begged for bite after bite.
Without giving away all your secrets, what are the main ingredients in the rub?
15 ingredients come together for that magical mix of flavors. The biggest secret is portion. Most store-bought rubs and seasonings have way too much salt. A healthy portion of brown sugar and a mix of black and white pepper help balance out the foundation blocks. The next level is the traditional savory meat seasonings: garlic salt, onion powder, cumin, granulated garlic. Then comes the heat: chili powder, cayenne, ancho. It is finished with dried herbs for some earthiness and some good burnt flavors when it comes in contact with the grill.
What’s your favorite way to use it?
The best way is always dusted liberally on meats for the grill or slow roasting in the oven. Top 3: baby backs, pork tenderloins, and big fat juicy chicken thighs.
Why won’t you give the recipe to your dear sister?
You can’t have it, nanny nanny poo poo!
::insert thumbs in ears, wiggle fingers, make raspberry sound with mouth::
Since my brother won’t spill the beans, I’ll turn to you.
Do you make your own spice rub? What’s your secret?