Metro-East Living

Do barbecue right with this cookbook of rubs, marinades and sauces

Try Steven Raichlen’s Dessert Rub on grilled pineapple, or a variety of other fruits.
Try Steven Raichlen’s Dessert Rub on grilled pineapple, or a variety of other fruits.

When I take a cookbook home, it means I see some serious potential in it.

I don’t have a big kitchen, and the shelves of an old Hoosier cabinet hold all the cookbooks I make good use of. But, every now and then a book comes along that inspires me to find a spot on the shelf — and go to work.

That’s what happened when Steven Raichlen’s latest barbecue tome landed on my desk. “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades — Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too” is such a great “encyclopedia of flavor boosters, dry and wet, that give grilled food its character, personality, depth and soul.” And while I do not do the actual outdoor grilling, I do the preparation. So, marinades, bastes and rubs are always in use in our household, even for winter indoor broiling.

I admit to using jars of expensive mixed spices and herbs sold at the supermarket. But, if I can make my own and save money, I do. I also invent my own marinades. But, I don’t have the creativity to come up with what Steven puts together!

A brief history: We met at Memphis in May in 2001, when Steven was already a best-selling cookbook author and barbecue expert. The Memphis competition is more accurately called the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. I wanted to do a story about serious barbecuing and the team from St. Louis’ Super Smokers invited me to Memphis; at the time they were defending their 2000 whole-hog win there. They also invited Steven to be part of the team and we all hung out together for a couple days under a red tent on the riverfront, talking barbecue and eating.

After that, Steven and I kept in touch for a while, and whenever he came to St. Louis for a book tour or to do some cooking, we got together. I’ve lost track of how many cookbooks he’s authored, but he’s now called “a global grilling authority.” Plus, he’s done some great TV cooking. His latest series is “Project Smoke” on public television.

I was looking through “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades ...” the other day and noticed that I’d slipped torn receipts and paper into at least a half-dozen pages; always a good sign that a cookbook is being put to good use. Here are three easy recipes from Steven that will serve you well over the summer.

As for the cookbook, this is a second edition, updated, revised and full of color photos for under $20. It came out May 2. You can find it at Barnes & Noble in Fairview Heights, as well as online at any bookseller.

Contact me at, 618-239-2664 and follow me on Twitter @BoyleSuzanne. Write to 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

The Only Marinade You’ll Ever Need

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (sea or kosher), or to taste

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver or minced

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, oregano, dill, and/or cilantro

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Step 1: Combine the lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) in a nonreactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are dissolved.

Step 2: Stir in the garlic and herbs. Stir or whisk in the olive oil. The virtue of this marinade is its freshness: Use it within 2 hours of making. Stir again just before using. Makes 1 cup, enough for 1 pound of meat or seafood.

Tips: This marinade goes great with everything, and I mean everything: poultry, seafood, beef, veal, pork, lamb, and vegetables. The larger the piece of meat, the longer you should marinate it.

Steven Raichlen’s “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades — Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too”

Sazón Rub (Puerto Rican Pig Powder)

No pit boss in Puerto Rico would dream of making lechón asado (pit-roasted pig) or even grilling steaks or chicken without first sprinkling them with a seasoned salt called sazón (sometimes called adobo).

1/3 cup coarse salt (sea or kosher)

2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

Step 1: Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir or whisk to mix.

Step 2: Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.

Tips: Keep sealed and this sazón will keep for several weeks. Makes 3/4 cup.

Note: Use as you would any seasoned salt. Pork, chicken, and steak are the most predictable choices, but the author says he uses it pretty much on everything else.

Steven Raichlen’s “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades — Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too”

Dessert Rub

Cookbook author Steven Raichlen created this Dessert Rub for grilled peaches, but says it works equally well on grilled plums, bananas, pineapple and apple (cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices). Turbinado sugar is a coarsely granulated, light brown cane sugar with crunchy crystals. If unavailable, use granulated sugar or demerara.

1 cup turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Step 1: Place the sugar in a bowl and whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.

Step 2: Transfer to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light. Makes 1 cup.

This rub will keep for several weeks.

Brush any sliced juicy fruit with melted butter or coconut milk, then crust it generously with Dessert Rub. Grill over a hot fire. Use the rub on grilled half lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit to make an outrageous sangria. Sprinkle on slices of buttered pound cake and grill to make dessert “toast.”

Steven Raichlen’s “Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades — Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too”