Rubbing meat with seasonings before grilling or barbecuing creates a spicy alchemy that builds complex layers of flavors. Early American rubs, described in 18th-century cookbooks, called simply for salt and pepper. Todays recipes are as diverse as our country itself, reflecting local tastes and ingredients. Rubs can be applied either just before cooking or a few hours in advance to intensify flavor. In Memphis, barbecued ribs are also coated with mop sauce, and a dusting of dry rub is often the finishing touch.
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