You've probably noticed us mention in a lot of recipes that measurements are approximate. Exact measuring is for bakers. We cook. If we mention an ingredient in a dry rub, the proper amount is usually as much as you want.
However, some of the folks reading this might want some direction. Here are some tips for specific spices in regards to mixing up your own barbecue spice rubs.
BLACK PEPPER: Be generous. Black pepper and salt can be your only ingredients, and you can still end up with great barbecue.
SALT: Be a bit less generous than with pepper, but don't be stingy.
BROWN SUGAR: Be way more generous than you think you should be. Brown sugar can very well make up half of your spice rub.
GARLIC POWDER: Go nuts.
ONION POWDER: See above.
MUSTARD POWDER: If you like tangy zesty things, see above again. If not, chill out on the mustard powder. We like to coarsely grind mustard seeds into spice rubs, and mix it with vinegar to make a sort of spice marinade.
PAPRIKA: Adds bulk and color mostly, as it has a very mild flavor. You can use plenty if you like. Flavor may vary slightly depending on the region in which it's processed.
SMOKED PAPRIKA: You'll see this in tons of Sizzle Grove recipes. Available hot or sweet. Go easy with it... smoked paprika gives you some smoke flavor "insurance," but you want most of your flavor to come from wood smoke.
CHILI POWDER: Most chili powders are actually blends of spices and salt mixed with ground chilis or paprika. You can use a pretty generous amount if you like, but you might not know exactly what's in it.
How about funkier ingredients?
CUMIN: A Sizzle Grove favorite. Very strong flavor, so try a pinch at first, then try more as you go along.
TURMERIC: Go very easy on this. It has a pungent, almost off-putting smell, but it does give a tangy flavor. It is commonly used in mustards and curries.
CINNAMON: Try just a little at first. We tend to avoid it, as it is a strong flavor that may dominate your barbecue.
COFFEE: Believe it or not, you can be fairly generous with coffee. Your barbecue will have an earthy tone that doesn't taste LIKE coffee per se, but the flavor change will be noticeable and pleasant.
GROUND CLOVES: Since people generally put cloves into dishes and then take them OUT, while still achieving a robust clovey flavor, seriously just use a pinch.
CHOCOLATE POWDER: Like coffee, this is a "depends on what you're going for" ingredient that may lend an earthy richness or a savory sweetness. It may, however, dominate your barbecue, so experiment.
DRY OR FRESH HERBS: Herbs are sort of an odd thing to use in a spice rub, but we find that dried oregano can add a pleasant flavor. Many of the ingredients in spice rubs are also found in chili or in Mexican cuisine, as is oregano. Sprinkle fresh herbs on your ribs at the end of cooking for something unique.
Keep in mind, no matter what kind of rub you mix up, it should match your marinade, baste, and/or sauce, if you are applying any of such. Also, keep in mind that any spice rub you mix up might smell pretty pungent. Your barbecue won't taste like THAT exactly... all the oils of the spices will mix with the meat and the flavor of the wood smoke to produce something you might not have expected.
Got any unique ingredients you like to use in your spice rubs? Need advice on an ingredient you want to try? Leave comments. Happy spicing!