I’m definitely not the kind of guy who’s ever going to be tied down to one rub, especially not a commercially prepared one. There are just too many spice combos to try and whip up myself! However, every now and then Bubba comes across a spice blend he’s gotta write home about! So I’m gonna tell you about a rub I discovered on a trip to Montreal, Canada to visit some buddies – Schwartz’ Steak and Beef Spice. I’m not saying it’s all I’ll ever use on my BBQ, but it did cause me to go through a bit of a “Schwartz’ phase”.
Now, before I go any further, I’ve gotta warn you that I have no idea if you can get this stuff anywhere but in Montreal. Still, it’s so good that I just had to share it with the Nation. If you find yourself there or have some friends or relatives who can get it and ship it to you, consider it. It’s really that good.
Schwartz’ is a hole in the wall delicatessen in downtown Montreal – one of these places with line ups around the block at any time of the day. They’re specialty is Montreal Smoked Meat, an awesome, greasy, spicy smoked meat that’s great with hot rye bread and an even hotter mustard (smoked meat is something you should definitely try when in Montreal. Schwartz’ is the “classic” place to go, but you can get it elsewhere, so I’ve been told).
So I’m eating my Smoked Meat Sandwich elbow to elbow with my friends and everyone else in the place, and I’m really into the spice on the meat. It’s a blend of all sorts of things, but what really stands out is the coarseness of all the herbs and spices, chunks of salt, peppercorns and garlic and mustard seeds and other good stuff. I don’t know about you but I find that a lot of commercial blends grind everything up so fine and let salt dominate the whole mess that there isn’t any pow left, if you know what I mean. Schwartz’ spice blend is still salty, but there are so many other things going on and they haven’t pounded the smack out of everything – this blend “gets it” and gets it right. (Side note – of course, finely ground chili powders, cumin, and paprika can all have their place in a rub – I’m talking about those packets that basically look and taste like fake fire-engine colored salt.)
So anyway, I’m eating my smoked meat sandwich, and I notice they actually sell their spice blend. Naturally, I buy a couple to take home as a souvenir, the best kind being the kind you can eat, of course. And I also buy a couple of their Poultry Spice Blend thinking that it’ll probably be good, too.
I take it home and try it out, first on steak. Whoa! It’s just awesome. And I’ve had a lot of steak with a lot of incredible homemade rubs in my time. This leads to me trying it on pork and burgers and even a beef roast. I’m even adding dashes of it to gravies and sauces as the week goes on. Pretty soon, I’m regretting picking up only two little bottles. And the poultry seasoning is no slouch either (less salty than the Beef Blend, more herbs). It’s great on chicken, and I even tried it on pork – I actually preferred the poultry blend on the pork.
They don’t actually list their exact ingredients, stating only that there are spices, garlic, salt and herbs. The good folk at Schwartz’ is protecting a secret lasting generations, I guess. But they’ve really hit on a genius blend of simple things.
Anyway, from a die-hard do-it-yourselfer, a rave review for a prepared blend is a rare thing. Then again, it’s a good family recipe and one that’s not available at any ol’ store, so I won’t feel too bad.
Next time you’re in Montreal, you know where to go. And if you are heading there, let me know, will ya? Now excuse me while I call up my Canadian buddy and see if he wouldn’t mind running down to Schwartz’, and then to the mail box for Bubba…