Originally Posted by El Ropo
I'd be perfectly content with a rub that has zero sweet, 30% cracked pepper, 20% k salt, 20% gran garlic, 10% gran onion, and 20% mix of hot stuff like cayenne, chipotle/habanero powder, ground chili tepins. Would like to hear from others about this sweet thing in a rub. I get plenty of sweet just from a decently fresh gran garlic.
Don't get me wrong, I love sugar, I love candy, just don't use it when making meat.
Hey Ropo, let me see if I can at least explain why we use sugar in our rubs (without giving away any of our trade secrets
…), and contrary to what one might assume, it’s not to create a sweet finished product. As you may know, we use a very high grade of natural raw cane sugar in all of our rubs (not turbinado or Demerara, but actually one less processed than even those). Some have more than others, but all of our rubs have at least a little of this sugar in them. I’ve tried rubs with zero sugar in the past and they always seem to come out kind of flat, mono-dimensional or way to salty. Which leads me to the first reason we use sugar in our rubs; it helps balance and round out the flavor profile. The sugar we use is also a great “bark-builder”, plus you have to work pretty hard to get it to scorch, even at direct grilling temps. It also helps build a sticky matrix on the surface of the meat that helps hold all the spices together in a “gel” on the meat. And finally, as the sugar cooks it adds its own unique flavor to the food.
One other thing I’ll add is that just because a rub has a sweet component to it when tasted raw, this does not mean that it will taste sweet after being cooked. I can’t speak to other rubs besides Oakridge, but I can assure you that the flavor profile of our rubs do change as they cook. In our Comp, Game Bird, Venison and Secret Weapon rubs, the original sweetness mellows considerably, giving way to savory, spicy, salty, peppery, etc., with maybe only a very slight mellow sweetness remaining in the background. And, good luck even detecting any sugar in our Santa Maria or HDD on the finished product (but it’s there doing its job…).
Hope this helps,