INDIANAPOLIS - When I think "Dad", I think food. With two dads who are wonderful cooks in my life – Brad-Dad and Brett, my stepdad – there are always plenty of great eats to be had whenever one of them is around.
Grilling is stereotypically thought of as a dad's job. I'm all for equal opportunity, but really, both my dads are GREAT at grilling food. As a well-known kitchen diva, I will willingly hand over the apron without any argument if there is an opportunity for one of them to throw something on the coals.
We've all heard the horror stories of those who douse their steaks with ketchup or A-1. While I love both of those condiments, you should strive for cooking a cut of beef that needs nothing when it comes off the grill except a good glass of red wine.
In reality, anyone can grill acceptable food – steaks, chicken, vegetables. But you can take it to another level – from just OK to SUPER fantastic – pretty quickly with a tasty, full-flavored rub.
Thanks to my stepdad, an amazing chef, I'm usually stocked with my favorite rub, one of his favorite Christmas gifts to give, which is loosely based on a recipe by Emeril LaGasse called "Rustic Rub."
I throw it on practically everything. Not only does it work for steaks, but also it tastes great on chicken, fish, veggies and stews.
Since it's his secret recipe and I've never gotten away with sneaking it out of his kitchen journal, I have had to come up with my own version when I run out. My version is also light on the salt, so it's a bit of a healthier take on the traditional rubs.
With the addition of lemon zest, this rub works great on fish and veggies. And the splash of ground espresso gives your food a few subtle roasted notes that I think bring out flavors you might miss otherwise.
*Vegetarian and vegan friendly, gluten-free.
Twinkle's Now-Not-So-Super-Secret Grill Rub:
½ cup paprika
2 tbs. cayenne
¼ cup freshly ground cracked pepper, coarse grind
3 tbs. garlic powder
3 tbs. onion powder
¼ cup coarse ground sea salt
2 tbs. dried oregano
2 tbs. dried thyme
¼ cup dried lemon zest
2 tbs. coarse ground espresso beans
Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and mix well.
Process in a food processor in for 10 minutes, in three batches until everything is coarsely ground, but well mixed.
Store in zipped plastic bags or in air-tight containers for four to six months.
I also suggest canning jars for storage to place in your shelves or by the stove for easy access.
Directions for grilling:
Rub steaks or seafood with olive oil. Sprinkle the rub onto your food and rub lightly until covered.
With veggies, I prefer to place veggies into a large gallon-sized resealable plastic bag, pour in about 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbs. rub and 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar. Shake gently and place in the refrigerator until ready to place on the grill.
For more on food and for more recipes check out twinklevanwinkle.com.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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