Next time you’re in the supermarket,
cruise through the spice section and
notice the abundance of bottled spice
“rubs” – the mixtures
of herbs and spices to season foods
before grilling or roasting. Also note
the prices; they are pretty expensive!
If you have a reasonable assortment
of spices and herbs in your cabinet
already, you can make your own wonderful
rubs to put on meats, poultry and fish.
You will also save a lot of money.
There are three parts to most of these
prepared rubs: savory herbs, sweet spices
and powders, and pepper. Here are examples
of these groups:
Savory group: oregano, thyme, basil,
tarragon, dill, marjoram, sage, rosemary,
Sweet group: garlic, onion, cinnamon,
nutmeg, ginger, cumin, coriander, fennel,
Hot group: black pepper, white pepper,
cayenne, chili powder, paprika, dry
For most spice rubs, you will need
one or two from the savory and sweet
group, and one from the hot group.
The other thing you will need is a
mortar and pestle. You can find these
in kitchenware shops or in the housewares
department. If you can’t find
one, a heavy rolling pin and a couple
of pieces of wax paper will work just
When you mix the spices together, start
with 1/4 teaspoon of each one. Put your
combination in the bowl of the mortar,
or between the wax paper sheets and
crush together for a few minutes until
the spices are blended. Then use your
nose; sniff the aroma of the combined
spices and note whether it appeals to
you. Add other spices as necessary.
When you have the right combination,
mix it together so the flavors are well
distributed, and with your fingers,
rub it on to the food so that it penetrates
the surface. Leave the rub on the food
for at least 30 minutes to an hour before
your grill or otherwise cook the food.
Refer to the list below for some ideas
on how which spices complement which
foods. Experiment with those you like
and write down the combinations you
like best. When you find one you like,
make a lot of it and put it in an empty
spice bottle so you’ll have it
for next time!
Also try the chicken recipe at the
end – a wonderful summer barbecue
Savory: oregano, thyme, dill, rosemary,
Sweet: onion, garlic, cumin, cloves
Hot: black pepper, cayenne, chili powder
Savory: tarragon, dill, sage, basil,
Sweet: onion, garlic, ginger, coriander
Hot: white pepper, paprika, dry mustard
Savory: oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil,
Sweet: onion, ginger, fennel
Hot: white pepper, paprika
Savory: oregano, thyme, rosemary
Sweet: onion, garlic
Hot: black pepper, dry mustard
Savory: oregano, thyme, sage, marjoram,
Sweet: onion, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg,
Hot: black pepper, chili powder, dry
Lemon Herb BBQ Chicken
1 whole roasting chicken, about 3 to
2 T. canola oil
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. water
Rub mixture: 1/4 tsp. each: basil, rosemary,
dill, thyme, onion, garlic, paprika
Mix together spice rub, crushing rosemary
to make sure it’s well distributed.
Rub over entire surface of chicken.
Mix together canola oil, lemon juice
and water in a small measuring cup.
Put the chicken in a large Ziploc bag,
taking care not to rub the spices off.
Gently pour the lemon marinade over,
and seal the bag. Place breast side
down and put in the refrigerator for
30 minutes. Turn the bag over so that
the breast side is up and marinate 30
Heat a BBQ grill for indirect heat.
Place a pan to catch drippings underneath
the side of the grill that is not lit.
Place the chicken on the unlit side
and BBQ for about 45 minutes to one
hour, turning horizontally every 20
minutes so that it’s evenly browned.
I hope you enjoy your rubs!