I have worked on my barbecue dry-rub recipe for several years, and finally arrived at a mixture of the usual suspects (sugar, paprika, cayenne, and uh, some other stuff) that was pleasing to my palate and that of most of my guests. So what did I do? Screwed around with it! Pretty clever, huh? I didn’t even change the recipe that much, but I also changed the amount of the rub that I put on what I call the “knuckles,” — those chunks of meat and gristle and cartilage connected to the ribs. I have learned how to trim the pork racks so that they look great (and that will be the subject of another post), but obviously don’t want to discard perfectly good food, so I barbecue these knuckles separately, and toss them to any stray children and dogs who may be wandering around. Actually, they taste pretty damned good, so I’ll usually munch on them too. Part of the allure is the pungent taste of the rub. The pieces are small, so they get a big dose of the stuff in comparison to the ribs. And because the rub has lots of sugar, it’s an appealing combination of caramel from the cooked sugar, and the zing of the other spices. Good stuff, unless you are stupid and arrogant and don’t follow your own recipe.
Lesson learned. I promise never to short-change my palate or my guests. A full dose of rub is now guaranteed.