Dry rubs are an easy and effective way to flavor any sort of meat, whether it's beef, pork, venison, poultry, fish or shellfish. Paprika-based rubs are particularly common because they're potent without being overpowering, and versatile enough to mix with a wide variety of other herbs and spices. Many pre-made dry rubs are available in supermarkets and specialty food shops, but making your own paprika mixture allows you to tailor it to your taste and adjust it from dish to dish.
Things You'll Need
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic and onion powder
- Herbs and spices
- Plate or wax paper
- Paper towels
- Plastic wrap
Mix paprika with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste on a plate or piece of wax paper as a starter for your rub. Try crystal kosher salt or sea salt for a more textured meat coating. Use brown sugar if you want a sweet rub, or go with a favorite spicy pepper powder or flake for a hot preparation. Add other dried or fresh, chopped herbs and spices to taste.
Pat the meat you're coating thoroughly dry with clean paper towels. Spread the paprika mixture out into an even layer that's larger than one side of the meat's surface area.
Press one side of the meat down into the paprika mixture and rub it around a bit. Lift the meat up and brush the remaining dry rub back into an even layer. Flip the meat over and coat the other side the same way. If you have a loin, roast or other rounded cut of meat, press it down and roll it back and forth a little in the seasonings; lift and rotate it about 1/3 of the way; press it down and roll it again, continuing until all the surface area is coated.
Wrap the coated meat in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Let it soak in the dry rub's flavors for at least an hour, but preferably for more like 24 hours. Sturdier meats like beef, pork and venison can handle up to 72 hours, but cap poultry at two days and more delicate seafood to one day.
Tips & Warnings
- Choose among the different paprika varieties -- made from ground pods of different types of peppers -- to tailor the taste of your dish. Much of the regular paprika in stores is mild, coloring foods more than flavoring them. Hungarian paprika tends to run sweeter and more pungent, and the kind most commonly found in the U.S. is a good middle-of-the-road selection. Spanish paprika is more likely to offer more spice; look for "picante" on the label if you want heat or for "dulce" if you want sweet. Or, impart a smoky flavor from smoked Spanish paprika, labeled "pimentón de La Vera."
- Raw meat, poultry and seafood spread potentially harmful bacteria. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling and sanitize cutting boards and other kitchen items that had contact before using them again.
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