Cooking with Beef 2: Beef Spice Rubs

Beef Spice Rubs

So, I’ve been gearing up for the cooking competition (technically I think it’s just a showcase, but I bet there will be judging or others eating…so I call it a competition) which lay ahead (the one I’m being sponsored to compete in by the Missouri Beef Council that I mentioned in an earlier post.)  I’ve been doing a lot of cooking with different cuts of beef (mmm…rib eye), but mainly I’ve been thinking.

Amongst the major proteins, red meat, and steak in particular, has one unique property that I have to account for in the competition: it tastes good by itself.  You can take a steak, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, let heat do its thing for 2-3 minutes per side plus 6-8 minutes in the oven and you have a masterpiece…and you didn’t have to fuss one second . With a good steak, the best thing you can do is get out of its way.

But This is Still a Competition

I keep seeing the judges’ face (who look a lot like Tom Colicchio in my mind’s eye) as they examine  my perfectly cooked steak and giving me the “all  you did was add salt and pepper to this steak?  Please pack your knives and go” look.  No, wait, Padma’s there, too.  Which starts Mrs. WellDone yelling at me because I’m spending time with that woman and suddenly, this imagining is getting me into a lot of trouble…

Anyway, until Sunday,  my thought was that this competition will live and die on the sides I prepare.  Which is why I have been cooking sides.  Lots of sides.  And maybe a sauce.  So I’ve been cooking sauces.

But then it occurs to me…I could choose spice rubs other than salt and pepper.  Theywouldn’t need to be as aggressive as the rub I’d put on BBQ or chicken or slow cooked Mexican pork because they would tend to hide the flavor of the steak.  But, a little rub might be just the trick.

Here’s three rubs I am seriously considering.

Ras al Hanout

I guess ras al hanout is a generic name for Moroccan seasoning, sort of like curry describes about a metric ton of different spice blends.  (Rachel Ray taught me that.)

Here’s my blend:

  • 3 parts ground cinnamon
  • 2 parts ground cardamom
  • 2 parts ground cumin
  • 2 parts paprika (not the smokey kind)
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part pepper
  • 1 part granulated garlic
  • 1 part ginger
  • 1 part tumeric (or Indian-style yellow curry powder)

Sprinkle liberally on the steak and sear.

Mmm…Toasty (Spices that is)

Most of these spices need to be toasted and grinded before mixing.

  • 1 part Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 part white peppercorns
  • 1 part black peppercorns
  • 1 part green cardamom
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 part kosher salt
  • 1 part garlic powder

In a skillet, toast the peppercorns, cardamom and star anise.  When they start to smell very fragrant, turn them into a coarse grind.  Mix with salt and garlic.  Cover with the steak and serve.

Japanese Style Beef Rub

This one concerns the most and, in fact, isn’t really a rub.  It’s more of a preparation. 

You will need:

  • 2 steaks
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • Greens of 4 green onions
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic smashed

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and marinate for 20-30 minutes.  Grill.


One Reply to “Cooking with Beef 2: Beef Spice Rubs”

  1. I have to agree with you about letting the taste of the beef be the hero on the plate. A small amount of rub would give you something to say even if you only used a teensy weensy bit. 🙂 Good luck!

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