We all love a good rub: especially in the form of a nice comment or a compliment.
But this isn’t about verbal love: it is about well-rubbed steak. Ideally, a steak that beckons gratuitous verbal rubs after it travels from fork to palate.
Latin Spice Rub
1 T packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp coarse pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
I had a family reunion to attend, and we take turns providing meals for anywhere from 9 to 23 mouths. For this particular meal, I was responsible for 23 mouths. I wanted to choose easy, make-ahead foods, because this was going to be a mountainous task no matter how you sliced it.
Feeding folks at this reunion was quintessentially plan-ahead cooking, since the nearest grocery store was going to be… hours away. The goal was this: make sure every lime, spice, beverage and bite was tucked into a cooler or bag. Plan the meal to the detail—which is intense in the days leading up to a vacation. But pure satisfaction when you finally shove off in your vehicle, brimming with ingredients and recipes and fishing poles, and in this case a few stray fireworks… oh, and did you remember the lanterns? Bee-bee’s? The bug-off? Soap? butterfly nets? The good coffee? So much goes into packing.
But back to the food: the beauty of all that pre-planning (cramming?) is the ability to relax upon arrival. Because I had already thought of, planned, pre-mixed and purchased everything. So when my turn to cook did arrive, I could relax and visit. Because I already wrote out the menu, bought the last minute ingredients, mentally filled pans or mixed dressings—all I had to do was pick up my tongs, toss some things together and deliver a meal to the masses.
I pre-cut (into 1 inch cubes), pre-rubbed, and froze steak a week in advance. I splurged on Top Loin, cut and rubbed the steak with 3 different rubs (what can I say? I bought a new grill book—I couldn’t resist). The book is called Grill Every Day by Diane Morgan. I made three rubs from her book: 1. Every Day Rub, 2. Coffee Cardamom Rub and 3. Latin Rub. Then, I froze the steak cubes in a large Ziploc bag. On vacation, I simply took the steak out of the freezer [the night before my ‘cooking day’], to let it defrost. Because the pieces were 1 inch cubes, skewers were unnecessary (happy surprise: skip the skewers, since the meat was too big to fall through the grill), cutting down even further on my to-do list. They were perfect in 4 minutes, grilled on high.
Oh yes, the jars (see photo). Well any excuse to use jars. Aren’t these a hoot? All I did to create these rub-filled jars is employ the use of a set of alphabet stamps, a pad of ink and some standard white labels from the drugstore.
And just in case it makes you wonder what ELSE was on that ‘week in the woods’ menu:
I served red vino with dinner, and some port to follow. In the nature of taking it easy, I skipped my planned brownie plus brandied cherries dessert (… and fresh whipped cream)—we made s’mores instead.
I hope you all are having big summer feasts, casual trail-side picnics and last-minute get-togethers to enjoy all that summer has to offer. We are about to embark on another family gathering and already my steak cubes are rubbed and frozen, waiting to make their fragrant, melt-in-your mouth appearance at another family meal…
p.s. timely note from my butcher: rubs are brilliant for freezing meats; marinades sometimes compromise when frozen.