*Inspired by loyal reader Jason, who asked about spice rubs…
I hate buying spice blends from the store. Hate, hate, hate it. It’s not that they aren’t good; some of them are great. It’s not that they don’t work. Spice blends are a quick way to add a punch of flavor. It’s that spice blends are all salt.
Check the label – store bought spice blends always have salt as the first ingredient. That means salt is the most common ingredient in the jar. Salt, which sells for sixty-nine cents a pound (or three bucks a pound if you buy fancy Kosher salt like me.) Spice blends sell for three bucks an ounce, if not more. I can understand why the spice companies do it – people want the blends, and they can make a lot of money that way.
*There are exceptions, of course: blends that don’t have any salt include chili powder, herbes de provence, curry powder, and italian seasoning. But, I always check the label – if salt is the first or second ingredient, I’m paying spice prices for salt. And, obviously, that bothers me.
The other problem is spice blends with salt in them make it hard to season food properly. If you use brines as often as I do, you can’t use store-bought spice blends without over salting the food.
OK, rant over. I usually throw together my spice blends, from my spice cabinet, in small quantities. But I make Cajun seasoning in big batches, so I always have it at hand. I’ve been a fan of Cajun seasoning ever since I heard my first “BAM!” from Emeril, over ten years ago.* Back then, there was no choice – if I wanted Emeril’s essence seasoning, I had to make my own. When Emeril started selling his line of spice blends in the grocery store, I thought my work was over. That’s how I found out about salt in spice blends – I flipped the jar over, to see if it matched the recipe I used, and saw salt listed as the first ingredient. Oh, well, back to mixing my own.
*Gaah! Was it really ten years ago? (Doing math in my head). Ugh. It was even longer than that…
Recipe: Cajun Spice Rub
Adapted From: Emeril Lagasse, Louisiana Real and Rustic
Special Thanks to: Dan Koontz for crystallizing my thoughts about spices with is Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices [CasualKitchen.blogspot.com]
Cook time: 5 minutes
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/2 cup granulated garlic
- 1/4 cup granulated onion
- 1/4 cup fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dried oregano
- 1/4 cup dried thyme
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
1. Mix up the blend: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir until completely mixed. Store in a sealed container for up to six months.
*This recipe makes two cups of rub, which just fits into the jar I always use. If you want to make more or less, the recipe is really the following ratio:
- 2 parts paprika, garlic
- 1 part onion, black pepper, oregano, thyme
- 1/2 part cayenne
*If you want to kick it up a notch (BAM!) add more cayenne. Other good changes are replacing the black pepper with white pepper, or adding a couple tablespoons of brown sugar.
*It is almost always cheaper to buy spices in bulk. I go to Penzey’s, or the bulk spice section of my local grocery store. If your local grocery store doesn’t have a bulk spice section, check your local health food store. They will usually have a Frontier bulk spices section.
Homemade Barbecue Rub
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