I had a bit of brain-storming today after seeing ellymae's thread with chuckies on the Big Green Egg.
Something about the mention of a cherry dry rub really intrigued me...enough so that I had to dig up
a box of dried cherries and get busy formulating the ingredients and a method to make my own cherry
dry rub all come together. I had read threads in which artificially cherry flavored brisket was the topic,
and as good as it sounded and looked, it just didn't have the same appeal as a natural cherry flavor...
this was what spurred me on to get a new blend coming together.
So, ellymae, this one's for you. Well, and everyone else who wants to give it a whirl, but my thanks
go out to ellymae for this spur-of-the-moment inspiration I had.
I was reading her thread about 10 minutes before I went nuts with my spice grinder, so this came together
pretty fast and furious, as I had some steaks thawing to try it out on...RIGHT NOW!!! LOL!!!!
CHERRY RUB FOR BEEF
(All measures are pre-grind)
6 Tbls (heaping) freshly ground dried red cherries
1 Tbls freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbls freshly ground garlic from minced/dried
2 tsp freshly ground thyme
1 tsp freshly ground cumin
1 tsp freshly ground oregano
2 tsp dried chopped onion, freshly ground
1 Tbls ground kosher salt (grind last, and this will help to clean out the other spices from the grinder)
1 Tbls paprika
The cherries are not a likely candidate for grinding because of the natural sugar content which immediately
begins to form a paste, and the more you work them, the more stubborn they become...this was first evidenced
in the cherry pasted chef's knife after just a few seconds of mincing.
Also, this blend will not mix uniformly with a fork in a soup bowl or other similar recepticle,
or by folding it together with a spoon, and tumbling it inside of a poly container is not an option either
due to the sugars in the cherries turning into a paste when you chop/grind them.
So, heres my method for accomplishing the blend:
Mince the cherries up reasonably fine with a chef knife on a poly board and add 2 Tbls at a time to your
electric grinder. Grind until the motor runs a fairly steady speed (mine took about 8-10 seconds),
then invert the grinder and tap the lid to shake the the pasty cherry grind into the lid and remove lid while
inverted and dump into a bowl. Repeat until all cherries are ground. Place them into a container to begin
mixing with the spices as they are ground and ready.
Next, with the grinder emptied of all of the cherry grind, add the peppercorn, minced dried garlic, thyme,
cumin and oregano. The peppercorn and garlic will help to further break up the cherry paste in the grinder
and also aids in the powdering of the other leafy ingredients.
The second-last run of the grinder is the onion and kosher salt. Again, the salt will speed up the grind of the
onion, which only takes a couple seconds this way, but will also remove much of the other spices and cherry
paste from the grinder, as it absorbes much of the moisture from these, which in turn helps to break the
spice's bond from the grinder.
Add the paprika and mix the blend of spices for a few minutes by gently drawing it up the side and pressing
it against the side of a deep soup bowl. The clumps which have formed from the cherries will break up somewhat,
but not completely.
The final run of the grinder is to add a couple Tbls of the blend at a time to complete the break-down of
the clumped cherries by mixing it into the dry ingredients at the same time it is being further ground.
This was a very succesful method for the final texture of the rub blend. Just grind a few Tbls and put into a
the separate container which you will store this in until it is used up. Put all of the final grind into
one container and tumble or fold to achieve a uniform blend.
This rub is all of powdered ingredients for the purpose of dusting the meat lightly and allowing it to bond
to the meat naturally from the salt and natural sugars. I say lightly, because it is packed with flavor.
All dried ingredients pack a more intense flavor, from spices and herbs, to dried beef jerky, to fruits.
The natural sugars of the cherries somehow seem to amplify the spiciness of the peppercorn and garlic,
as well as packing a pretty intense flavor all on their own. My dry taste test confirmed that it was all
worth the effort it took to make this rub.
I suspect that the sugars of the cherries will try to reform into a paste, like brown sugar, so a regrind
before using after storing for a week or so may be needed, but what's a few seconds in a grinder anyway, right?
Once the final application of dry rub is completed, allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before smoking so the
sugars can bond and salt can begin to draw a bit of moisture to aid in developing the rub's adhesion as well.
Smoke with hickory & cherry (or your favorite) @ ~225* to your desired doneness.
I'll start these steaks out with a cold smoke of about 120-130* as they are not quite completely thawed yet
when they went into the smoker. The cold smoke will finish the thaw before I add more charcoal and build up
the fire to hot smoking temps and finish the cooking.
Also, until proven otherwise, I would not recommend this rub for the higher temps of grilling due to a pretty high risk of burning the sugars in the cherries, although it is a much shorter duration over the high heat than a long smoke would be, so it may work out just fine for that as well. I still have about 1/3 of this rub left over, so I may get the chance to try it grilled one of these nights coming up soon.
As I began to prep this dry, I came across the problem with pasting/caking of the cherries during mincing/grinding. Also, after begining to put all the ingedients together, I noticed a definite need for additional coloring, as all the spices other than the peppercorn had coated the cherry with a pale white dust. That's where the paprika came into the game.
Paste was forming on the knike blade long before I took this pic...here we're about ready for grinding:
Post grind of the minced cherries:
Here's the initial clumping issue I had to deal with...the sugars from the cherries were really going to work on sticking anything and everything together when I began working the spices into the blend:
This is just not working out...getting a finer texture, but the clumping is really stubborn...hmmm, where do I go from here:
So along came plan B...regrind with everything together, a few Tbls at a time then fork mix the entire contents...I've already added the paprika here:
OK, so the rub has it's prep kinks worked out...now I need some MEAT, and, New York Bone-in Steaks are todays victims...smoke will be provided by hickory & cherry in my Brinkmann Gourmet over charcoal fire.I took these out lastnight after work to start thawing, but didn't have a real plan, other than I knew they would be my smoke for the day...then along came the cherry beef rub, and :
The dark little chunks you see here are actually finely reduced clumps of the cherry...I can't get it much finer, but it should still be a great and unique eating experience:
Into the Gourmet lower grate (4" below the main instead of direct over the water pan...another mod) with the 2 larger cuts and a med/large...this should allow plenty of heat to circulate past these from the dry water pan and up under the steaks above for more even cooking as the lower position runs a bit hotter when I run a dry pan...oh, dry pan because of cooler ambient temps of just above freezing with falling temps now:
And the remainder of today's victims on the main grate...I'll start with the cold smoke as mentioned earlier...about 1lb of briqs for heat, a handful of hickory chips on top and a hanful of cherry slivers on top of the hickory chunks...the lid and barrel were just warm to the touch for the better part of 55 minutes in when I added about 3lbs of piping hot coals to start the transition to a hot smoke:
Smoke is on for 1 hour and10 minutes right now, so a couple hours of 200-210* should get us into the ball park of medium rare.
More to come as this develops, and our verdict on the cherry beef rub. For now, I'm back to the smoke! Ha-ha-ha...I love it!!!
Thanks for allowing ing me the pleasure of cooking you up another dry rub, all!