Thursday, March 13, 2008


Herbal and Spice Mixtures for Smoking and Grilling Meats, Poultry or Seafood

Dry rub mixtures (and marinades, which we will cover in another article) are the perfect way to prepare dishes for the long cooking process of slow smoking. They lend a deep savory flavor to smoked meats and as they are usually cooked over indirect heat, burning or scorching is not a problem. Dry rub mixtures can be made out of almost any ground spice or herb combinations. However, certain combinations can produce the suggestion of any number of cultures and cuisines. I’ve rarely followed a specific recipe in professional or personal cooking, as I have a fairly good idea of what works and the flavors that represent many regional tastes. As this might not be so familiar to you and your kitchen, I have collected a few ideas to help get you started. Feel free to alter the amounts according to your personal taste.

To Begin...
Always carefully rinse the foods to be cooked and completely dry each piece. Do
this ahead of time and place the items in the refrigerator uncovered up to a couple of hours while you prepare your dry rub, light the fire, etc. Remove meat from the refrigerator and hand rub each piece with a small amount of Avanti Savoia All-Purpose Cooking Olive Oil* (#19999) and your selection of a dry rub. Use as much dry rub as will stick (about 1/3 cup for one whole chicken or a 5 lb. Boston Butt pork roast, ½ cup for a small whole turkey and so on). Allow the seasoned meat to sit out at room temperature for 15 or 20 minutes before beginning the cooking process.

The Fire
This depends entirely upon what equipment and system you are using, but the best smoking is always done over indirect heat. This can even be done on a very simple kettle type charcoal grill by simply arranging the charcoal in a ring around the edge of the grill. Like a doughnut with no charcoal in the middle over which the meat or whatever will cook. Amounts of charcoal will vary according to the size or amount of items to be smoked. Do not scrimp on the charcoal because you do not want the fire to go out before you have finished the smoking process, a little experience will help you to make the right call. Light your fire according to your custom (lighter fluid or however) and allow it ignite to a full glow. Make sure the meat rack is clean and hot before you begin cooking.

Wood Chips for Smoking
Most of us are aware of the packages of Hickory or Mesquite chips that are available wherever grilling supplies are sold. Good enough, but there are many other choices that may be available out of your own backyard or at least your own area. Almost any wood from fruit tree pruning will work well instilling its own subtle character and flavor. On our home grill we have had great luck with wood chips from our small orchard (peach, plum, nectarine and cherry) as well as terrific results from wild cherry trees that grow abundantly in our locale. These are the same wild cherries used in the infamous “Cherry Bounce Moonshine”. But, that is indeed another story. Wood from nut trees is really nice too, especially walnut and pecan. I find that pieces of wood about twice the size of my thumb work best for me. Sometimes I soak them in water first and sometimes I use them dry, both methods work just fine but, I think I prefer using the chips dry. I find however that a water pan under the meat rack is very important in producing a nice moist meat. You can also use many different kinds of liquid in the water pan besides water (wine, beer, mint tea, or even soda pop that has gone flat-use your imagination). Wood chips or pieces are added after all the coals are glowing and just before adding the meat.

Cooking and Smoking
Remove the meat rack from smoker and spray the rack first with a cooking spray to prevent sticking. Pour your liquid of choice into the water pan; place a big handful or two of wood pieces on top of the charcoal. Return oil sprayed rack to smoker and place the prepared and seasoned meat in the middle of the meat rack. Cover with the lid to the grill and let it rip. You can adjust the amount of heat and smoke by leaving space between the lid and grill. Turn items as needed and enjoy.

Guide for Mixing Dry Rubs
Whole seeds or spices can be ground in a small spice grinder or by hand using a mortar and pestle. Combine all ingredients and rub mixture on meats using your (clean) hands.

(*Available at Avanti Savoia)

Italiano Robusto
Use 1/3 to ½ half cup of Don Vito’s Gold Italian Blend* #30001 (Avanti-Savoia exclusive) directly from the jar.

Signature Mediterranean
Perfect for chicken; Don Vito’s Gold Mediterranean Blend* #30002 (Avanti- Savoia exclusive) Use to taste, as it is, right out of the jar.

Fiesta Mexicana
1/4 cup (freshly ground) Cumin seed* #32040 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. (freshly ground) Coriander seed* #32015 Ferri Dal 1905
2 Tblsp. Green Oregano “Sicily”* #32050 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. Picante (Hot) Paprika* #32105 El Ruisenor
Small pinch of Cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Peruvian Pink salt* #35012 Artisan

Exotic Asian
¼ cup Ground Ginger* #32065 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. (freshly ground) Coriander seed* #32015
1 Tblsp. Ground Cinnamon* #32030 Ferri Dal 1905
2 Tblsp. (freshly ground) Fennel seed* #32035 Ferri Dal 1905
1 tsp. Peperoncino Flakes* #32121 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Kala Namak salt* #35015 Artisan

Cajun’s Delight
3 Tblsp. Thyme* #32055 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. Rosemary* #32045 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. Green Oregano “Sicily”* #32050 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. Ground Black Pepper* #32001
2 Tblsp. Garlic Powder (not garlic salt)
½ tsp. Ground Cloves* #32021 Ferri Dal 1905
½ tsp. Ground Allspice* #32071 Ferri Dal 1905
½ tsp. Picante Paprika* #32100
Pinch of Portuguese- Flor de Sel* #35009 Artisan

Heart O’ Texas
Inspired by Texas tradition but served in Tennessee for almost 20 years.
2 Tblsp. (freshly ground) Cumin seed* #32040 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. Thyme* #32055 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. Green Oregano “Sicily”* #32050 Ferri Dal 1905
2 Tblsp. Garlic Powder (not garlic salt)
2 Tblsp. Chili Powder
1 Tblsp. (crushed) Juniper Berries* #32025 Ferri Dal 1905
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper* #32001 Ferri Dal 1905
Pinch of Salish Smoked Salt* #35019

Catering Chef David Lowery’s Dry Rub
A Memphis inspired blend that has been prepared for years by my brother in Austin, Texas.
2 Tblsps. garlic powder
2 Tblsps. Paprika* #32100 El Ruisenor
2 Tblsps. Chili Powder
1 Tblsp. Green Oregano “Sicily”* #32050 Ferri Dal 1905
2 tsp. (ground) Cumin seed* #32040 Ferri Dal 1905
1 Tblsp. dry Mustard
2 tsp. Sel Gris salt* #35023 Artisan
1 tsp.Ground Black Pepper* #32001 Ferri Dal 1905

Pop Lowery’s Texas Lemon Barbecue Sauce
Yield: About 4 Cups
This sauce is particularly good on chicken but do not baste with any liquid sauce until toward the end of the cooking process. This helps prevent the sugars from burning or scorching so quickly.
Grated and finely chopped peel and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tblsp. of yellow onion, finely chopped
12 ozs. Chili sauce
2 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tblsp. brown sugar
¼ cup prepared mustard
2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper* #32001 Ferri Dal 1905
1 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Garlic powder
½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
2 tsp. Sel Gris Sea Salt* #35023 Artisan
¼ cup All-Purpose Cooking Olive Oil* (19999)

1. Mix all ingredients together and simmer about 20 minutes over low heat. Stir often to prevent sticking.
2. Baste chicken or other meats towards the end of the cooking process and also serve the sauce hot at the table.

Wine finishing sauces from Leaning Oaks Vineyard in Texas are fantastic on smoked meats. Try the Cabernet* #33240 or the Zinfandel* #33255.


Anonymous said...


Gerry said...

Excellent Job!
I Buy Grill Parts