Sometimes we need some inspiration in the kitchen. Sometimes inspiration comes in a jar. This melange of hot, sweet, smokey spice will perk up your game in the kitchen in many ways, infusing meats with its peppery power, saturating marinades with full-bodied flavour, lifting vegetables to new heights with a simple sprinkle. Everything you wish for in a spice rub resides in this mix, undertones of garlic and onion, the pure pleasure of salt, a variety of peppers to titilate the taste buds. There is smoked paprika for depth, mustard powder for bite, thyme and basil for sweetness, cayenne for heat. This recipe yields about two and half cups, enough for gifting, plenty for you. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, it will keep for many months.
Ted Reader is known as the "King of the Q" and he knows a thing or two about fire and flavour. Unabashedly bold in the kitchen, his recipes are marked by a generosity of spirit and loads of perky personality. I used his Bone Dust rub recipe pretty much as he wrote it, with just a few tweaks to make it my own. Feel free to do your own tweaking, though I would try this close-to-perfect blend as is first. Do not substitute table salt for kosher salt. Kosher salt has a purity of flavour and crumbly texture that makes a big difference in this blend. If you had to choose one way to make food taste better, that one way would be to use kosher salt. Its presence makes both the spices and the food sing.
adapted from Ted Reader
1/2 cup sweet paprika; 2 tbsp. smoked paprika; 1/4 cup chili powder; 3 tbsp. kosher salt; 2 tbsp. cracked coriander seeds; 2 tbsp. garlic powder; 2 tbsp. onion powder; 1 tsp. turmeric; 2 tbsp. coarsely ground mustard seeds; 2 tbsp. raw or granulated sugar; 1 tbsp. ground black pepper; 1 tbsp. ground pink pepper; 1 tbsp. dried basil; 1 tbsp. dried thyme; 1 tbsp. ground cumin; 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper.
If you are grinding your own spices for this mix, take care to not overprocess them and turn crackly, crumbly texture into powder. It is nice to have some larger bits in your seasoning, little jolts of one of the peppers, the crystals of raw sugar and the lively flakes of kosher salt. The dried herbs are also nice when flecked throughout your blend and not pulverized to homogeneity. So, carefully grind your spices one at a time so that you can control how much they are processsed. Then, simply combine all your spices, mix them up well and store in a jar in a cool, dry place.
Bone Dust, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. . . . . 1) Sprinkled on scrambled eggs 2) whisked into a vinaigrette 3) smeared on steak before grilling 4) rubbed on a raw salmon filet 5) added to soup 6) simmered in a thick, wet stew 7) mixed with some soft goat cheese for a kicked-up spread 8) tossed with chicken wings before roasting 9) in a fragrant bath of tomato sauce destined for spaghetti 10) as a finishing touch to steamed brocolli.
Whatever your inclinations are in the kitchen, Bone Dust is a power house of a condiment to use any which way you like. Once you try your hand at blending your own spice rubs, you and your nose can go on a sensory journey creating many more interesting combinations. Ted Reader offers us a panoply of options: Mediterranean-Style Rub scented with herbs and the sweet fragrance of ground fennel seeds, Indonesian Cinnamon Rub with the added warmth of allspice and cloves, a Tandoori Rub that includes cardamom and coriander seeds and a Cajun Rub spiked with hot mustard powder, cayenne and sweet paprika. When inspiration hits and you feel like playing the flavour card, let these Ted Reader books guide you: