Citrus-Cilantro Wet Spice Rub

We’ve had eight, nine(?) beautiful Summer weekends in a row! But after this past Winter, with its polar vortex temps, I think we deserve it…  Don’t you? So this past Sunday evening, we tried out a new recipe for a wet spice rub from Cook’s Illustrated. The first of our Brandywine Pink Heirloom tomatoes were perfectly ripe, so a caprese salad with garden-fresh purple and green basil, would pair nicely with the grilled chicken and some newly-picked green beans.
This rub was developed by grilling experts John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger. It is especially suitable for chicken. Our twist to the ingredients? We used chipotle powder instead of chili powder, and pimenton in place of paprika. For extra spiciness, add up to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.


  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice from 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice from 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced very fine
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves


Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Use immediately.


Carefully lift up the skin over the breast and massage the spice rub directly onto the meat. Smooth the remaining rub over the outside of the bird. The magazine called for massaging some of the rub on the inside of the cavity, but it made only a scant few tablespoons. I suggest doubling up on the ingredients if you intend to include spicing up the inside too.

Our 4 lb. chicken took about 70 minutes in the middle of the grill, where it wouldn’t burn but would receive ample heat. Fire up all burners on the grill until super hot, then turn off all but one. Oil up the grate and lay the bird breast-side down over an off-burner for 35 minutes. Turn it over and cook another 35 minutes. Remove the chicken onto a cutting board with routed edges and tent with foil. As Russ said “This puts the ‘suck’ back into succulent,” and he meant that in a good way… It was one juicy bird!

The recipe called for brining the bird for one hour for tender, juicy meat. Since we were running late, we skipped the brining step, and the end result seemed no less juicy to us!


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