This model is based on Chris Lilly’s book, “Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book” (Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York) and his take on how to develop a rub for barbecue. Lilly has four categories for ingredients for a rub: Salts and Sugars, Pepper, Transition Spices, and Signature Flavors. As you experiment and want to branch out to more sophisticated rubs, get his book and read more about this philosophy. I have simplified his approach to make it the “4-S” model and limited the number of ingredients in each category to make it easier to use for the beginning barbecuer.
- Salt – fine grained with iodine (regular table salt) and without iodine (canning salt).
- Kosher salt – course grained and very pure.
- Sea salt – from evaporated seawater. May be either fine or coarse grained.
- Seasoned salt (such as Lawry’s Seasoned Salt) – regular salt combined with flavoring ingredients such as garlic salt, onion salt, and celery salt.
- White sugar – highly refined cane or beet sugar (granulated) and will scorch at high temperatures.
- Brown sugar – white sugar combined with molasses. Comes in either light or dark brown sugar.
- Black pepper – universal spice that may be finely or coarsely ground or cracked.
- Ground chile powder – This is not “chili” powder but is made from dried chiles such as chipotle.
- Cayenne pepper – also called ground red pepper made from a variety of dried chiles. Can be very hot.
- White pepper – lighter in color and milder in flavor.
- Chili powder – this is a seasoning mixture of dried chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano, and gloves.
- Paprika – flavor ranges from mild to pungent and hot. Hungarian has a deeper, heartier flavor and Spanish paprika has a milder flavor.
- Onion powder – versatile but pungent flavor and odor.
- Garlic powder – staple flavor.
- Cumin – aromatic with nutty flavor
- Mustard powder – strong pungent flavor.
- Oregano – strong pungent flavor and odor
- Rosemary – lemon/pine flavor and highly aromatic
- Sage – slightly bitter with a musty mint flavor.
- Thyme – slightly pungent with a mint/lemon flavor and aroma.
- Basil – pungent, licorice/clove flavor.