Most Texans believe that barbecue is an expression of meat. That means no sauce, no excuses. “If you’re going to have a rad piece of meat, why would you want to make it taste like something else?” asks Aaron Franklin of Austin’s famed Franklin Barbecue.
But keeping it simple doesn’t mean forgoing the time-tested technique of using a dry rub, the sole purpose of which is to elevate meat’s natural flavors. “Here in Central Texas, we just use salt and pepper,” Franklin says. “For brisket, it’s always half Morton kosher salt, half pepper. For ribs or turkey, it’s two parts pepper to one part salt. I might throw a little paprika in with pork, just to help add a bit of mahogany color. Doesn’t do anything for flavor, but it looks nice.”
Though packaged dry rubs are available at supermarkets around the country, Franklin recommends making your own. Not only is it more cost-effective, but it tastes better, too, allowing the cook to control certain variables, such as the freshness and ratio of the ingredients. “I actually prefer our pepper to be about two weeks old,” Franklin says. “We use a whole lot of pepper on our brisket. That’s because pepper tastes really freaking good when it melts into fat.”
Franklin’s Dry Rub
1/2 cup Morton kosher salt
1/2 cup of ground black pepper (about 16-mesh fineness)
1. Combine the Morton kosher salt and ground black pepper. That’s it, you’re done.
2. After trimming the fat on your brisket, sprinkle the dry rub onto all sides of the meat, including the sides.
3. Let the brisket warm up to room temperature (about an hour) before putting on the smoker.