Memphis-style BBQ Dry Rub

Barbecue season is in full swing, and that means that I'm getting a lot of requests for rub recipes. I developed this Memphis-style rub as a pork seasoning, but it really is an all-purpose dry rub.

This rub strikes a great balance between savory and sweet, with just a hint of kick. The blend of spices provides a great well-rounded flavor profile that complements just about anything in the smoker or on the grill, even fish and vegetables.

The combination of sugars creates an outstanding crust without scorching at high temperatures. The pork butt below was cooked at 325-350°. Check out that color!

Memphis-style BBQ Dry Rub

1 cup Sea salt, medium fine (no table salt, please)
1/2 cup Unrefined evaporated cane sugar (no table sugar, please)
1/2 cup Brown sugar, golden/light
2 Tbs Sweet Hungarian paprika
2 Tbs Chili powder, medium heat
2 Tbs Granulated onion (not onion "powder")
2 Tbs Dry mustard
1 Tbs Granulated garlic (not garlic "powder")
2 tsp Dry thyme
2 tsp Dry oregano
2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
2 tsp Celery salt
2 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp Ground coriander
1 tsp Ground cayenne (optional, but recommended)

Combine all of the rub ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with a whisk or stand mixer.

Store the rub in an airtight container in a cool dark place.

Makes about 3 cups.

Related post: All-Purpose BBQ Seasoning

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Kingsford Charcoal

Today, June 20, is the summer solstice which means that it's the longest day of the year. To celebrate summer Kingsford® will be grilling non-stop at their headquarters in Oakland, California from sunrise (5:47 AM PDT) to sundown (8:34 PM PDT).

As a first in social media, they will take a picture during each minute of this continuous grill-fest. To help with the math, that's 877 photos that will be taken and published via several social media outlets, including Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

To make the occasion even more cool, "like" Kingsford® and tell them what they should grill to have a chance to win a sweet Kingsford® Summer Grilling Prize Pack.


Huevos Rancheros Burger

As promised, here's is my second entry in Johnsonville's No Ordinary Burger Contest, that I mentioned previously. This time out I use their chorizo patties to make a burger influenced by two classic Mexican dishes.

I'm not a fan of eggs, but I am a fan of chorizo and eggs. The mildly spicy pork sausage brings a lot of much needed flavor to the party. The idea of a chorizo and eggs burger immediately popped into my mind when I contemplated contest recipes. After I had thought of the eggs, huevos rancheros came to mind. In the end I thought that combining the two basic concepts would probably be a killer burger, and it certainly is.

The great thing about these is that you can serve them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

6 large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
2 large Red onions, sliced into 3/4" thick whole rings (only the large rings)
6 Johnsonville Chorizo Patties
6 slices Medium cheddar cheese
6 large Flour tortillas (10")
3/4 cup Enchilada sauce
2 tsp Canola oil

Note: You want the onion rings intact and about 3" in diameter. Store the remaining onion for another use.

Start your grill and prepare for direct cooking over medium heat (about 350°). While the grill is heating, tear off about 30" of foil aluminum and fold it in half.

Once the grill is heated, put the foil on the grate, pour the oil on the foil and quickly spread it around with a wadded paper towel held by tongs. You want to completely oil the top of the foil so that the eggs don't stick.

Tip: Use the new non-stick foil to ensure nothing sticks.

Start grilling the chorizo patties on an open area of the grill, per the package directions.

Add the onion rings to the foil and let them cook for about two minutes, just to soften them a bit.

When the burgers have cooked about one third of the total time, gently crack an egg and pour it into one of the onion rings, then season the egg with 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Close the grill lid and continue cooking until the burgers are just about done.

Huevos Rancheros Burger

During the last minute of cooking top each burger with a slice of cheese and let melt.

Remove the burgers to a platter. Place a burger on one side of a tortilla and add one of the eggs, with the onion. Drizzle the egg with 2 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the burger and egg, then fold the sides over the top to form a pouch around the burger.

Serve and enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros Burger

If you dig this recipe I'd greatly appreciate your vote for the contest. Thanks in advance.

My first entry can be found here.

Disclaimer: I was given product samples and a grilling kit as promotional consideration for the No Ordinary Burger Contest. I've long been a great fan of Johnsonville, and I'm happy to be working with them.

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Johnsonville's No Ordinary Burger Contest

Here is my first entry in Johnsonville's No Ordinary Burger Contest, that I mentioned previously. For this burger I twist up the classic traditional combination of brats, beer, onions and kraut (well kinda).

The idea behind this burger is to keep things simple, but not at all ordinary. For the slaw I use reduced American-style beer as a braising liquid for sliced red onion, and also as the base for the dressing. I then add some spicy brown mustard, black pepper and shredded cabbage. The result is a nice balance of sweet, tang, and crunch with a hint of bitter that perfectly compliments the rich bratwurst.

Here's how it all comes together.

24 ounces American-style light-bodied beer (I recommend Budweiser)
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 medium Red onion, sliced to 1/4" (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 tsp Sugar
3 tsp Spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
1/4 head White cabbage, cored and shredded to 1/8" (about 2 cups)
6 Johnsonville Bratwurst Patties
6 Good hearty burger buns
Butter, for toasting the buns

Combine the beer and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to keep the foam from overflowing.

Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook at a low boil until the beer is reduced by half. Add the onions and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to about a tablespoon, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the mustard, sugar and pepper. Mix well until all of the ingredients are completely incorporated.

Add the cabbage to the pan, stir well, cover and set aside at room temperature.

Grill the bratwurst patties per the package directions.

Slice each bun and lightly butter each half. Toast the buns on the grill.

Serve the burgers topped with a healthy portion of the slaw.


If you dig this recipe I'd greatly appreciate your vote for the contest. Thanks in advance.

My second entry can be found here.

Disclaimer: I was given product samples and a grilling kit as promotional consideration for the No Ordinary Burger Contest. I've long been a great fan of Johnsonville, and I'm happy to be working with them.

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Johnsonville's No Ordinary Burger Contest

I was recently contacted by the folks at Johnsonville about a contest that features their new line of sausage patties. To introduce the new products they're giving you the opportunity to let your creative juices flow. Oh, and you just might end up $10,000 richer for your effort.

Grillers are familiar with Johnsonville's reputation for great sausage. Well, these patties bring all of that sausage deliciousness in burger form.

The No Ordinary Burger Contest is just that. It's your chance to use one of the four varieties of Johnsonville Patties (bratwurst, Italian, cheddar bratwurst and chorizo) to create your ultimate sausage burger.

Through July 3, 2012, share your unique Johnsonville burger recipe, and you'll have a chance to be one of the select finalists who will be chosen to participate in a cook-off live on national television this August. The winner will receive the $10,000 grand prize! Here are the official rules.

I'll be entering two recipes, the first of which I'll post tomorrow. The other is still a work-in-progress, but it will be ready next week.

Disclaimer: I was given product samples and a grilling kit as promotional consideration for the No Ordinary Burger Contest. I've long been a great fan of Johnsonville, and I'm happy to be working with them.

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Book Review: Slow Fire

I was recently sent a review copy of Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Barbecue, the latest book from Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe. I've long been a fan of Ray's books, going back to his first, which I used as a guide when I started competing in barbecue cook-offs.

Ray is a very accomplished trucker-turned-barbecue-man. You can read the long list of his achievements at his site. What I like about Ray is his unpretentious and no-nonsense approach to barbecue. He has strong opinions and, true to his Chicago roots, he's not bashful about telling you what's on his mind. In other words, he keeps it really real, and I dig that.

It's interesting to me to see how Ray's books have continually matured  through the seven years that he's been writing. Slow Fire really highlights that maturation. The first thing I noticed is that this is a beautiful book. The layout is pleasantly clean and the photography is gorgeous. You can immediately tell that this isn't your average barbecue cookbook.

Book Review: Slow Fire

As the title indicates, this book is intended for beginners. Barbecue is a paradox. It's a simple cuisine that can be deceptively complicated and intimidating. Over time cooks have managed to complicate what started as a very simple and humble cooking process, so much so that the average Joe is afraid to tackle it. This book cuts through the smoke and gets back to basics.

A beginner's book has to walk a fine line. It has to be simple and approachable while providing enough knowledge to build confidence, but not so much that it scares folks away. That is especially true in barbecue. One can very quickly get bogged down by expensive equipment, arcane terminology and philosophical arguments. That's not the case here. Ray does a great job of providing need-to-know information without overwhelming the reader. I'd argue that it's missing some basic techniques, like how to remove the membrane from ribs, but overall it covers the fundamentals well.

The recipes in the book are a great blend of traditional and creative. It starts with a wide array of sauces and seasonings. He covers all the standards and weaves in some really creative recipes. The Banana Ketchup (yes, you read that right) and Orange-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce are intriguing.

Book Review: Slow Fire

Next, there are 11 rib recipes that range from Memphis-style (wet and dry), to competition spare ribs, to Korean-style beef short ribs. My only small quibble here is that the cooking process is very repetitive, but that could be argued as a plus. It shows how important it is to master a few fundamental processes, which is true of all cooking.

Pork is the holy grail of barbecue, and Ray does it justice. Like the ribs, he brings a lot of variety to the table. I like that throughout the book he teaches both the "standard" and competition approaches to recipes. I think that's a great testament to it being a comprehensive beginner's guide. It also shows the sometimes insane lengths we competition cooks go to woo the judges.

Book Review: Slow Fire

The beef section includes a few off-the-beaten path recipes, like homemade pastrami.

Book Review: Slow Fire

All of the basic birds are covered in detail. The barbecued duck recipe uses that orange-chipotle sauce that I mentioned earlier.

The "Anything But" section includes recipes that don't fall into the typical barbecue category. The term is used in competition circles to mean anything that you don't typically turn in for scoring. Here you'll find dishes like Smoked Scotch Eggs, Barbecued Bologna, and Jambalaya-Stuffed Bell Peppers.

Rounding out the book are side dishes and desserts. I was disappointed that there are only two dessert recipes. I would have liked to seen some grilled desserts.

In conclusion, I think Dr. BBQ has written a very good guide for anyone who wants to learn how to master barbecue. If you apply the techniques taught in the book you'll be well-grounded in the basics. You'll also have some creative recipes to help you expand your barbecue repertoire.

I recommend the book very highly.

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