How can you pass up a rub with a name like Hardcore Carnivore???
99% of the time on a steak I am just a salt and pepper guy. I like to taste my meat and not have it overpowered by other flavors so I was somewhat hesitant to try out Hardcore Carnivore rub. This rub was developed by a lady names Jess Pryles. I have been reading her blog for quite a while now and when it comes to meat I pretty much agree with everything she has to say so if she says this meat can enhance the flavor of a steak without masking over the beef flavor I was willing to give it a try. And it is an awesome name as well.
Before we get into the rub let’s talk about the meat. Like I mentioned earlier with few exceptions I usually just like salt and pepper on my steaks. But one of those exceptions is flank steak. The flank is a great piece of meat (think of it as the abs of the cow) with a good flavor and texture but it is one of the few cuts I prefer to add to a bit. I will usually do some sort of Asian marinade with some soy sauce, ginger, garlic, black pepper, maybe some onion powder, maybe some brown sugar, and whatever else I decide to throw in. Flank steak is a fairly lean cut so without the fat to give flavor it can do with a bit of a flavor boost.
I like to cut my flank steaks into two pieces because one end (the left one in this picture) is usually a bit thicker than the other. If you left it all together you could end up with some overdone steak so I like to cut it and pull the thinner end off the grill a minute or two earlier than the thicker end. The coals in the grill were ready to go so it was time to season the meat.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about when to salt your steak and unless I can salt it overnight I like to salt it right before cooking. The steak on the right got some salt and pepper and the steak on the left got the Hardcore Carnivore rub.
Let’s take a minute here to talk about the rub. As you will notice it is very, very black. Along with some fairly standard rub ingredients like salt, pepper, garlic, onion, brown sugar, and chili powder this rub contains something I have never seen in a rub: activated charcoal. Don’t worry this isn’t ground up briquettes or something like that. It is a food grade product that is Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA.
Activated charcoal is commonly used to treat some poisoning due to its filter like properties. Some (mostly quacks) claim it is a good for detoxes and some say it can cure a hangover so there might be some benefits to eating activated charcoal but for this rub it seems to be mostly about the color. Why is the color important???
When you have a steak like a flank steak that is fairly thin it can be very, very easy to overcook your steak before you develop a nice crust on it. Nobody wants to eat grey meat so a lot of cooks will end up overcooking their steak just to get a good color on the outside. With the Hardcore Carnivore rub that problem is solved since your steak will already have a nice, appealing color to it so you can just worry about getting the internal temperature where you want it. Of course there can be some good flavor developed with a good sear and a nice crust on the meat but with the flavors from the rub that helps make up for the possible lack of crust.
I cooked this flank steak on my grill. I had all the coals on one side in case I started getting too much of a crust before the inside was cooked but that didn’t happen. It only takes 2-3 minutes per side to cook a steak like this to medium rare.
After the steaks were cooked I let them rest for a few minutes before cutting. You don’t need to rest a thin steak like a flank steak as long as you would a nice 2 inch thick ribeye but a 5 minute rest definitely helps keep the juices in the meat. Here is what the steaks look like after cooking. The one on the right didn’t shrink but I just forgot to get a picture before I started cutting.
The steak with just salt and pepper had a good mahogany color to it but the flank steak with the Hardcore Carnivore rub had a nice, black color. It pretty much looks like a nice peppery smoked Texas brisket.
When slicing a flank steak I usually like to cut the steak in half again (like the one on the right) and then slice thinly against the grain or perpendicular to the grain. If you cut with the grain you will have a steak that is hard to chew but when you cut against the grain you have a nice, tender bite.
The steak with the rub on it might have been a couple degrees on the rare side but definitely still in the delicious range. You can really notice the visual difference in the steaks here. The steak with the Hardcore Carnivore rub had a nice, black exterior but wasn’t burnt or charred at all.
Now the important part… How does the Hardcore Carnivore rub taste? Does it enhance the meat or just cover up the flavor of the meat? Well, I have to say it was delicious for sure. The flavors aren’t overpowering like many rubs are and with just salt, pepper, onion, garlic, sugar, and chili powder there weren’t any super bold flavors like many rubs have and the combination of seasonings added to the flavor of the meat. There was just enough sugar to give a hint of sweetness and caramelization, the chili powder and onion powder can be tasted for sure but again, they didn’t run wild over the other flavors. I usually don’t like much garlic flavor and this was right on the edge for me but for most people out there I think the hit of garlic will be just about right.
For the right kind of steaks like a flank steak or maybe some thinner grocery store cuts I would not hesitate to use this rub again. I don’t know if any rub will ever be able to get me off salt and pepper on a nice thick ribeye or NY Strip but I do think this is a rub any steak lover should have on hand. Go buy a bottle of Hardcore Carnivore rub today and try it out.