Bison Basics: Homemade Spice Rub and Beer Braise

I love making homemade spice mixes. I really do. Why? Because you can literally put almost anything in them: grated fruits, zests, specialty sugars, smoked salts, you name it. The infusion of flavor that you can put into a spice mix is really unlimited. And in turn, you can completely change the dynamic of any dish. I mean, you can take a basic strip steak and turn it into a Moroccan strip steak or you can take a plain old chicken breast and transform it into a Tuscan chicken breast. You can also use spice mixes as a rub or to add some extra components of flavor to your sauce, your sides, whatever. They’re also really great for meat substitutes like, say, tofu, which tends to be pretty bland if you don’t know how to make it tasty.

Another reason I love making my own spice mixes is because it’s actually quite a money saver. Sure, you can go into these specialty spice shops and find some awesome mixes, but they’re usually pretty pricey (and, unfortunately, you usually only get a few ounces for the big bucks you’re paying). In reality, you usually have a lot of the basic elements in your spice cabinet at home and what you don’t have, you can find (and save money) one of two ways: don’t be afraid to peek at places like The Dollar Tree for cheap, basic spices or go to a wholesale spot like BJ’s or Costco for the large bottle. You really save when you go wholesale because those big bottles last for so long that, when you start making your own specialty mixes, you’re only spending pennies on the dollar.

Bison Basics: Homemade Spice Rub and Beer Braise |

The spice mix I’m sharing today was used as a rub on a great piece of brisket I found locally. I wanted to put something together that had a touch of Indian flavor without being really heavy in potentially overbearing flavors like the turmeric or cumin you find in a curry. I was also looking for a sweet yet savory spice mix, so to balance out the savory, I used some lime sugar and blueberry sugar. If you just pour something like regular white sugar into a mix like this, it’s straight sweet with not a lot of depth, but these specialty sugars add a nice dimension of flavor that works well with the strength of the spice mix.

recipe11 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp lime sugar
1/8 tsp chipotle pepper
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp all spice
1 tsp blueberry sugar
1 tsp Italian blend salt
¼ tsp Herbs de Provence
6 juniper berries
3 bay leaves
¼ piece of star anise
3 cardamom pods
1 bottle of beer (I used Dos Equis)

Set aside the bay leaves, juniper berries, star anise, and cardamom pods. Mix all of the other spices in a spice grinder until well incorporated with about a medium grind. Rub your meat of choice (like I said, I used brisket, but you could use chicken, steak, etc) with the mixture, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24-48 hours depending on the size of the meat. I’d recommend placing your wrapped meat in a container (like an empty Tupperware container) to prevent leaking.

When you’re ready, take out your meat, put it on a rack in a roasting pan, and add the remainder of your ingredients (you’ll want enough water to come about halfway up the meat). Your cooking time will, of course, vary depending on what meat you’re using and how much, but feel free to comment below if you’re looking for more specific instructions!


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