If you’ve read some of my other posts, you may notice that some of my rubs and sauces are easily adapted and morphed into delicious variations. So this recipe is simple, but only if you already have some of the other ingredients already prepped and on hand. This works equally well for wings and legs.
Prepare you smoker to cook indirectly at 250F, using a fruit wood smoke such as apple or cherry (or a little of both).
Combine the rub with the brown sugar and lemon zest, and coat the wings (or drumsticks). I find the easiest way is to the them all out on a cooking tray (the kind with low sides), sprinkle half the rub liberally, cover with another similar sized pan and flip the whole thing, then apply the other half of the rub to the other side (sure beats trying to flip 3 dozen wings!).
Smoke for 2 hours at 250, which gives you plenty of time to prepare the glaze, which is simply 2 parts spicy ketchup, 1 part BBQ sauce, and 1 part guava jelly. Warm it in a sauce pan so the jelly melts evenly in the glaze. When the 2 hours are up, brush on the glaze, flip the chicken, glaze the other side, and close up to cook another 45 minutes or so.
That’s it. Nice and simple.
*If you haven’t made any spicy home-made ketchup, try the following: Mix ~ 3/4 cup store-bought ketchup with 1 tbsp cider or white balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, dash of Worcestershire sauce, dash of ginger, dash of chipotle power, dash of creole seasoning. That should get you reasonably close.
Here’s another rub recipe, which is much lower in paprika than my 4-3-2-1 rub. This one I call Even Steven, because I use only one measuring implement – usually a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measuring scoop – to measure everything. That keeps it nice and simple, and it doesn’t matter what size of a batch you make, you don’t need to calculate when scaling up or down, just keep the proportions the same!
Even Steven Butt Rub:
Full scoop of paprika. I use a combination of sweet and hot – mostly sweet, but then top it up with a little of the hot. Maybe 5:1 sweet to hot.
Full scoop ground black pepper. I like a medium grind, not the fine grind used in pepper shakers, but not so coarse it doesn’t mix well.
Full scoop salt. I typically use kosher salt, again for the medium grain size – fine salt comes out too salty, coarse chunky rock salt doesn’t mix well, and also falls off the meat.
Full scoop mixed granulated garlic and onion, about 50:50 – I use the stuff that is about the consistency of table salt (“granulated”, as opposed to “powder”, which is finer, but really either would work).
Full scoop assorted herbs and spices. Here you can get pretty creative, what I do is typically ~ 1/4 to 1/3 scoop chipotle powder, a little cumin (a bit less than a teaspoon for a 1/3 cup scoop), about 1/3 scoop dried oregano, half as much (~1/6 scoop) dried thyme, and topped up with whatever else you have – I’ve used chilli powder, or a little creole seasoning, or ground coffee, a little cocoa powder, or whatever strikes my fancy. Or just level it off with the other items from the scoop.
Just toss all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly, and then store in a container with a shaker lid. I like to keep the plastic containers my bulk spices come in and use those, because they have the shaker lids that snap open and shut, and they come free with the ingredients!
I use this rub often for pork and chicken. If I’m doing ribs I’ll mix it about 50:50 with brown sugar (maybe 60:40), for doing a butt I’ll mix it 70:30 with brown sugar, and for chops, tenderloin or chicken I’ll use it straight without mixing any sugar.
A year and a half ago, I write a little post about steak spice. At that time I was moving from light seasoning to more intentional and aggressive seasoning. Well, I’m all about learning, and I’ve been doing a lot of learning over the last few years. So here’s what I’m using now to season my steaks:
1/4 cup coarse salt – I use a mix of sea salt and Himalayan pink salt. Just because.
1/3 cup mixed peppercorns – black, white, pink, green. Yum. Mix it up.
1/4 cup dried minced garlic and onion – I lean towards a little more garlic than onion, but I just use the 1/4 cup measure and fill it with both. It’s easier that way.
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
You may notice that all of the ingredients are coarse and chunky. There’s a reason for that; freshly ground pepper and coriander have more flavour. So I mix it all up and throw it into a pepper grinder so I can grind it fresh over the meat. I managed to find a grinder that holds a full cup of spice, and has a flip out handle for those times when you need a lot.
And let me toss in a little bonus tip: for those times you want to take it up an extra notch, make a small batch (half or quarter all the measurements) and toast the pepper, coriander and mustard seed. Put them in a dry sauce pan on medium high heat, and roll them around. After about a minute the mustard seed will start to snap and pop out of the pan. Remove from heat and let sit for maybe half a minute more, and transfer the spices to a clean bowl to cool. Then mix as above. Toasting these spices gives them a little extra dimension, and makes them more aromatic. But that extra flavour doesn’t last long – so this is counter-productive when making a big batch. Save it for when you really want to impress someone.
If you barbecue frequently, you probably have a few different rubs. But if you are like me, maybe you have one basic rub that is tasty, and good for almost anything, particularly when you have to slap it together at short notice. If not, then feel free to steal mine, which I refer to as 4-3-2-1.
4 parts paprika
3 parts coarse black pepper
2 parts sea salt
1 part garlic powder
Plus, optionally, anything else I feel like at the moment, such as celery seed, onion powder, cayenne, or whatever I have at hand.
It’s a simple recipe to remember, and flexible. It can be used straight up as a spicy rub, or mixed about 1:1 with brown sugar as a sweet rub.
I’d be curious to hear what others use as their standby, all purpose rub.
In many things, I tend to be a bit of a purist. I don’t want lime in my beer, I don’t want soda in my scotch. I want whatever it is to stand as it is. So it was with steaks. I liked to grill steaks with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt or pepper, so I could taste the steak, not the spice. But recently I have changed that stance. I have decided that adding a little spice to a steak adds more to the experience than it detracts from the “purity” of the cut of meat. And when done right, it tastes damn good.
I have by no means perfected a spice mix – but here is a typical combination that I might use. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with, in decreasing order of amount:
Fresh ground black pepper. If you don’t have a pepper grinder, then course black pepper, not fine.
Coarse sea salt, or other coarse salt
Cajun spice, such as Tony’s or Slap ya Mamma
Garlic or onion powder
Basically, I am a little heavy handed with the pepper, gentle (just a soupçon) of the cajun and garlic to give a little complexity to the flavour without it being obvious (in other words, cheating). And the salt somewhere in between.
This simple combination, particularly on slightly cheaper cuts of meat, really elevates it from steak to Steak.
Three things that go really, really well together.