Have you been absorbed over the past several weeks with intense cooking projects beyond or instead of what you do for your clients? Perhaps some attempts at sourdough bread? Maybe a complex cooking technique you’ve been itching to experiment with?
Well, if you’ve exhausted all those experiments or feel exhausted by them, here’s a hugely satisfying kitchen endeavor that requires minimal effort, yet will yield wonderful flavors to the other dishes you make:
A homemade herb rub.
I got to thinking about this a couple of weeks ago when I saw this piece in The Kitchn that advocates making taco seasoning at home instead of buying those tired, usually stale yellow packets at the market. In fact, you probably have many of the dried herbs and spices already.
The same goes for making your own curry seasoning. And chile. And so many others.
But if you have a garden filled with herbs, you can also do what I’ve been doing for years and make an herb rub.
I wrote about this particular rub years ago. But I thought that with spring here and our gardens our havens now more than ever, enjoying the bounty of those fast-growing herbs would be a joy. A good rub is not only perfect on meats, poultry, and fish, but also roasted vegetables. And, they’re so versatile you can enjoy them mixed with a really good, young extra virgin olive oil as a dip for bread. Make your rub the basis for a vinaigrette or creamy dip. Stir it into a sauce for pasta or into a soup. Oh, man, I can’t stop!
Now the rub I made last weekend features what’s going crazy in my garden right now: rosemary, sage, and thyme. Sometimes I add oregano. Or chives. To this foundation, I include garlic cloves–lots of them–along with hot pepper flakes, and coarse sea salt. I’ve also added lemon zest from Eureka lemons. Right now all I have are Meyer lemons, but the skin is too thin and delicate to zest well.
Collect your herbs and pull off the leaves. If the stems are young, go ahead and leave them on, but rosemary can get woody and thyme stems brittle, so if you have older rosemary and thyme stems, make sure you take just the leaves.
Unless you want to mince the herbs, garlic, and salt together by hand (which I used to do), pile everything into the bowl of a food processor (which I now do) and let it whirl. Make sure the mixture is reduced to small pieces that are about the same size. They don’t need to be–and shouldn’t be–reduced to powder.
Then pour out the very fragrant mixture onto a sheet pan. Spread it out thinly. Don’t dry this in the oven. Its secret power is the oils in the ingredients so place the sheet pan somewhere where the mixture can slowly dry on its own over the course of about three or four days, depending on the humidity. Stir it around daily with your fingers to break up any clumps. Once it feels dry, place it in spice containers. You may want to give some of it away to friends or clients to enjoy.
And, the additional benefit? Your house will have the most devastatingly delicious fragrance and you’ll be hungry all the time the rub is drying.
Do you make your own spice mixes or herb rubs? What ingredients do you use?
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