Recipe: Dry Spice Rubs and Mixes

There’s nothing more indispensable than a simple spice blend of salt and pepper (and garlic powder if you’re in my household) to season every dish: raw, grilled, broiled, roasted, seared, stewed, sauced, you name it.

When it comes to letting quality ingredients–meats and vegetables–shine, simple spice mixtures are usually best. These spice rubs are my go-to when roasting, grilling and smoking healthy.

S&P: Salt & Pepper

  • sea salt or, even better, Himalayan salt
  • fresh cracked black peppercorns

You dropped a hunk o’ change on that choice- or prime-cut of steak! Salt and pepper about 20 minutes before you grill premium quality meats to give the salt a chance to draw out the moisture and intensify the flavor. S&P is so basic yet it’s the best and simplest way to savor grass-fed, free-range, exotic meats and seafood.

Citrus & Herb:

A citrus-y component …

  • orange peel
  • lemon peel
  • lemon or lime basil
  • lemon  or orange thyme
  • lemon balm
  • lemon verbena
  • lemongrass (ground or pounded)

Plus an earthy or woody herb …

  • rosemary
  • oregano or marjoram
  • thyme
  • sage
  • chives
  • basil (non-citrus varieties)

Brightens any veggie, meat or seafood dish, especially if pan-searing, grilling or roasting.  Since I grow many of these herbs in my garden, it’s a great way to take utilize ingredients at its freshest.

GM: Garam Masala

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 bay leaf (crushed)

While it’s used to season curries and stews in Indian cuisine, garam masala is a versatile spice mix. Works best with any truly bland vegetable, like cauliflower, or protein, like fish. Use it to spice up a baked potato or a grilled avocado. It’s a great way to liven up any dish and give it an antioxidant punch at the same time.

Cajun/Blackening Spice:

  • 2-3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, ground cayenne, or a dash of ghost pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 to 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar

I originally created this spice mix for blackening fish, chicken and steaks in butter. But I’ve found that it does extremely well for direct grilling and searing all types of  protein, especially pork belly! Tweak the spice levels by increasing or reducing the amount of cayenne/red pepper. For a really spicy punch, use ghost pepper!

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