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De Stewart (better known as Colonel De) has turned his lifelong obsession with spices into a book, a cooking show, and his own shop at Findlay Market. As summer heats up, we had to ask: What’s the secret to a great rub?
Let’s talk about rubs. How many do you sell? I sell 40 to 50 different rubs.
And do you make all of those? We make, literally, 99.9 percent of them.
What makes a good rub? I look at rubs like a musical chord. You have spices like coriander that are high notes, while garlic is more of a low, deep note. The key to a good rub, like a good sound, is balance. If you find the perfect balance, your taste buds will thank you.
How do you know which spices go with which meats? For beef, I want something strong like paprika, garlic, black pepper, and coriander. Pork and chicken tend to taste better with sweet spices, like sugars and chili powder.
Then you have your bases—onion, garlic, and salt.
So a customer comes to you looking for help. What do you say? I ask customers what meat they are using, how they are preparing it, and their desired flavor profile: spicy, savory, sweet, etc. Then we go from there. My advice always is if your nose likes it, your taste buds will like it.
Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spices
Findlay Market, Over-the-Rhine
Originally published in the July 2012 issue.