Chef Michael Olson’s BBQ Spice Rub

Posted by: Erin May 15, 2020 No Comments
Chef Michael Olson

The Niagara Chef popped by our Instagram Live to show us a secret ingredient spice run to punch up the flavour of your BBQ!

By Erin

Did you see Chef Michael Olson’s grilling demo on The Wine Sisters’ Instagram earlier this week?

The author of the cookbook, Living High Off the Hog: Over 100 Recipes and Techniques to Cook Pork Perfectly, made a super easy, super flexible spice rub, that he says is really just a ratio and less of a recipe. He added it to pork loin for a quick and inexpensive yet tasty dinner, but he says you can add that rub to everything from veggies and salmon to chicken and beef. (If you would like to see the Niagara Chef in action, you can watch the segment on our IGTV channel.)

He paired the spice rubbed pork to a fruity and bright Gamay from Thomas Bachelder (who some of you might remember my very first guest on Instagram live). That juicy red fruit would really work to punch up the meat. On my end of the live stream I was playing with a few wine pairings.

Wines for Barbecue

  • Tedeschi “Capitel Nicalò” Valpolicella Superiore which had that telltale Italian spice that I think would be a killer match for that spice and char of grilled meat. Superiore simply means there needs to be at least one year of oak aging on the wine (in this case they opted for Slovenian barrels), and the alcohol must be over 12%. This came in at 14% abv, but still showed a brightness thanks to that firm backbone of acidity.
  • Meiomi Pinot Noir – a cult classic that really needs no introduction. The fruit is sourced from three different areas of California and is much richer with black berry notes and sweet spice. A warm climate Pinot that has weight and heft and will be a perfect introduction to red wine lovers who skew more to the full-bodied Cabs.
  • 2027 Wismer Vineyard Fox Croft Block Riesling. Winemaker Kevin Panagapka is focused on making single vineyard, terroir-specific wines. Dry and crisp with only 11% alcohol, this is a great option for day drinking with turkey burgers, grilled seafood – and even the spice rubbed pork in the recipe below.

Now on to the spice rub from Chef Michael Olson.

While you can certainly buy your own pre-made rub, Michael likes this simple, homemade recipe which he says, “gives you total control and you can tweak it the way you like.”

The one cardinal rule is that the sugar-to-salt ratio must always be 2:1, but other than that, you can add whatever you would like. “What’s cool about this if you have some turmeric, or some mustard powder, or a pinch of cinnamon that you wanted to use up – boom, it goes in there!”

But how do you make sure the tasty spice doesn’t fall off your meat during grilling? The Chef’s secret hack: regular yellow mustard. “It may surprise you because it’s so simple.” Michael laughs. “This is the glue that holds the rub on. I use this stuff kind of like a flavour base but….This will prevent any wasting of any barbecue spice.”

Chef Michael Olson’s Spice Rub

As long as you keep to the salt sugar ratio you can make more or less depending on your needs. Because this rub uses only dried spices and no fresh herbs or wet ingredients it will last in a sealed container indefinitely.

  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp salt
  • 4 ½ Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seed
  • (Cayenne or crushed red chili flakes to taste – optional)
How you do it:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix. Store in a sealed container.

*Note: When ready to use, only remove the amount you need for cooking into another bowl to avoid cross contamination.

Spice Rubbed Pork Loin

Courtesy of Chef Michael Olson from his cookbook, Living High Off the Hog: Over 100 Recipes and Techniques to Cook Pork Perfectly.

Serves 3

  • 1 lb fresh Ontario pork loin, butterflied
  • Yellow mustard
  • Approx 2 heaping spoonfuls of spice rub
How you do it
  1. Heat the barbecue to 350 degrees
  2. With a pastry brush, spread yellow mustard on both sides of the butterflied pork
  3. Generously sprinkle spice rub o both sides of pork
  4. Place on hot grill and cook for about 3 minutes per side
  5. Slice and serve with fresh seasonal ingredients like grilled asparagus or zucchini.






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