Here’s a good all-purpose barbecue rub based on a classic American rub that you can customize by adding smoked paprika or smoked salt. These ingredients help deliver a smoky flavor, even if you’re using a gas grill. If you’re grilling with wood or charcoal, they reinforce the smoke flavor even more. Smoked paprika is a newly fashionable (but not new) ingredient from Spain, sold by the name of pimentón de la Vera (one good brand is La Chinata) and available in Spanish markets and specialty food stores. As for smoked salt, it comes in a wide range of flavors and prices, from the basic smoky salt sold in the supermarket spice rack to exotic Danish and Welsh smoked versions. If all this sounds too fussy, use regular kosher salt and sweet paprika.
Yield: Makes About 1¼ cups
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
2 tablespoons hickory-smoked salt, or more coarse salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons smoked paprika (see Note) or more sweet paprika
1 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
Place the brown sugar, swet paprika, coarse salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion, powder, mustard and celery seed in a bowl and mix with your fingers, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar, garlic powder, or mustard with your fingers. Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat or light; it will keep for several weeks. Plan on using 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of rub per rack of baby back backs; more for larger racks of ribs.
Pimenton de la Vera comes in sweet, semisweet, and hot versions. All will work in this rub--choose the one that suits your taste best.