My passport flaunts a few tattoos – smudgy proof of a trip here or there. But it also knows many a pristine page of Department of State-grade emptiness.
It’s my spice rack that’s been around. Among the huddled masses of oreganos and dills, there’s a floral sack bulging with herbes de Provence. From actual Provence. There’s a silk purse rattling with Sichuan peppercorns, from Sichuan province. There’s a foil square of Moroccan saffron and a zip-top pebbled with Hawaiian sea salt. If the nutmeg ever heads home, I’m carrying its bags.
Recently a friend confided that she sneaks in her steak rub from Montreal. Apparently the paprika-powered powder is capable of turning domestic steak into an international sensation.
I poked around my cupboard and pounded a version pungent with garlic and peppers. Not all the ingredients travel on passport, but they deliver a suitcase full of flavor. And just in time for grilling season, a taste of lawn chair adventure.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: About v cup, enough for 6 steaks
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon smoked ground paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Soften: Heat a small heavy dry skillet over medium. Toss in garlic and cook, shaking skillet now and then, until garlic is blackened in spots and soft, about 10 minutes. Set garlic aside to cool.
Crush: Measure salt into a mortar (or small electric spice grinder). Peel garlic and mash into salt. Mash in remaining ingredients.
Season: Rub about 1 teaspoon on each side of a steak during the last few seconds of grilling. Also good on pork and chicken.
For more (perhaps even obsessive) detail on the science of steak, consult amazingribs.com. Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn knows his way around a steak (though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t approve of rub).