Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Steak Rub
by Jeff Hoyt
I eat a lot of beef. From ground chuck to filet mignon, I enjoy it probably more than I should. Since my wife doesn’t eat red meat, I don’t get to go out to steakhouses very often. Frequently the steaks I enjoy are ones I grilled myself, next to a piece of fish for the Mrs.
Since I find the meat so appealing, I rarely cover its flavor with marinades or spices, and cook it as little as possible. I enjoy the texture, and the gnawing of the bloody, rare meat probably triggers some pleasure center handed down by my ancestors who hunted to survive and cooked their fresh kill over an open fire.
When I put pepper on a filet, I grind it first. I might embed some pieces of soft garlic into a piece of meat, but never whole peppercorns. Whether I’m enjoying meat or dessert, I don’t like deviations in texture. I like nuts, but not hidden in my ice cream or cake. I don’t even want nuts in peanut butter, preferring the creamy to the chunky.
This lengthy preamble is an attempt to explain why I never tried a steak rub before. Why would I apply something that might cover up the flavor of a good piece of meat, or add crunch where it wasn’t desired? I was afraid that applying Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Steak Rub would ruin a good piece of meat for me. But I was impressed with his Chipotle Molasses barbecue sauce, so decided to apply some to a New York steak while grilling up some turkey burgers for the rest of the family.
After rubbing some quality olive oil into one side of the meat, I sprinkled a handful of the thick mixture on top and threw it on the grill. The mix actually smelled pretty good, so I did the same thing to the other side after the flip. When I applied fork and knife, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I enjoyed the new method of eating steak, from the taste to the texture. The black peppercorns gave off a satisfying burst of flavor as I bit into them, which enhanced the meat instead of overwhelming it. I felt like I was enjoying a simple steak au poivre. There was rosemary, which I usually use to season chicken, and some heat from chipotle and other peppers. The biggest shock was that I was enjoying the variations in texture while chewing instead of eschewing them.
A few days later, I tried it again on a London broil (next to some mahi-mahi) and the results were once again positive. Now I’m wondering, why did I wait so long to try a steak rub? And how long should I wait before I try it again? The last thing I needed was another reason to eat more beef!