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Dr. Zorba Paster shares his favorite recipe for chicken rub

Dear Doc: I listen to your show in Buffalo. As you know, we are the people of chicken wings, and I like them any way I can get them. I love all kinds of chicken, especially on the grill. A while ago on the show, you gave listeners your favorite chicken rub recipe. You talked too quickly for me to write it down, and besides that I was behind the wheel.

– Jack from Buffalo

Dear Jack: My favorite rub recipe comes courtesy of Cooks Illustrated, my favorite magazine and my go-to gift for someone who loves to cook. This is my slight variation of our Paster family favorite: Mix 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons kosher salt and a dash of freshly grated pepper.

Now, as for how to pick the spices, I find all brown sugar, black peppercorns and kosher salt to be pretty much the same. But when it comes to paprika and chili powder, there is a world of difference. I choose Penzeys Spices, a Wisconsin pride-and-joy company based in Wauwatosa. They have the best of both paprika and chili powder.

If you can’t find them, choose a fresh bottle of chili powder, store brand would be OK. With paprika, I do find a difference, so I choose the Hungarian variety.

Once you have your spices, mix them all up. If you really want good flavor with your chicken, nix the white meat and go for the dark meat with skin on your chicken thighs. It gives my heart a little flutter (and perhaps my coronary arteries squeeze just a bit) when I eat some good sizzling chicken skin.

Dip the chicken into the rub so both sides are coated. Bake at 325, bone side up, for 30 minutes. Turn it over and bake another 30 minutes, skin side up. Check the temperature with a quick-read thermometer to be sure it’s at least 165 degrees; I usually go up to 175 to make sure there is no pink inside the thigh.

If you want to finish the chicken on the grill, do so on high heat if it’s a gas grill for about two minutes per side. That will give it a nice char.

Now, I might be faulted for recommending a politically incorrect recipe, because I’m not using boneless, skinless chicken breast. My answer is: For that occasional treat, why not go for the kind of chicken you like? That’s the one with great flavor, which in my mind is the skin-on thigh. Moderation in all things – including moderation.


Dear Dr. Zorba: After reading your article regarding circadian rhythm, we would like to invite you to participate in our Health Care Professional Referral program to assist your patients in obtaining one of our seasonal affective lights at a discount. Can you pass this on to your readers?

A: Sorry, folks, the answer is no, I won’t. I get lots of these requests. When I say lots, I mean lots. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Dr. Oz. He’s got a following like nobody’s business, but I do get my share. I always think the same thing: Is this out of the kindness of their heart or is there money involved?

That got me thinking about health-related websites and what not to do if you get a request for information. If you don’t know the site, never give them personal information. Even if you do know the site, before you hit “reply,” call them up to see if they’re real.

There are too many counterfeit sites out there just trolling for your data. I had one site contact me that looked like it was Johns Hopkins, but when I called the “contact us” number at the bottom of the page I got a “wrong number.”

And if anyone wants to give you a free sample, beware. I had a patient who signed on for a colon cleanse capsule sample. The capsules were free, but they needed a charge card for shipping and handling. That cost a shocking $85 to send out 30 capsules. She tried calling the colon cleanse number but got no answer, so she called her Visa account to get the charge canceled.

I wonder how many people got bilked by these crooks? Buyer beware.

Dr. Zorba Paster hosts a radio program that airs locally at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7. Email him at