Well, after watching more TV than we’d care to admit, we finally turned up some spice sheets. Are they the ones you saw, and are they used by chefs? We’re not convinced. The ones we found are sold in conjunction with the FoodSaver — “The Original Home Vacuum Packaging System” — a device that draws the air out of a special storage bag and seals it. The manufacturer, Tilia, Inc., promotes the product as a great way to seal and store foods bought in bulk and leftovers, and promises that it maintains the quality of the stored foods. Different models of the FoodSaver system cost between $120 and $320.
The FoodSaver SpiceSheets are dry marinade blends attached to plastic sheets. You wrap one around a piece of meat or fish, enclose it in one of the special plastic bags, use the suction force of the device to remove the air from the bag, thereby pressing the spice sheet up tight against the meat or fish, seal the bag, and put it in the refrigerator for half an hour or longer. The company says it is an excellent way to impart flavor to your food.
The company will sell the SpiceSheets independently of the vacuum packaging system. The cost is $25 for 24 sheets — six each of New York Seasoning, Roasted Garlic and Rosemary, Zesty Italian, and Lemon Basil.
Now, we’ve done what you asked. But would it be out of line to suggest that you make your own spice rubs — without preservatives, without sheets of plastic, where you know exactly what the ingredients are, and certainly for less than $1 per chicken breast or fish fillet? There are thousands of rub recipes out there. Here are just a few:
• To make a Indian Rub, you can mix a teaspoon each of ground coriander, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, and salt with 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cardamom and cayenne pepper, along with 2 minced garlic cloves.
• To make an Autumn Herb Rub, combine 4 teaspoons of sage with 2 teaspoons each of thyme and savory, and a teaspoon each of salt and ground pepper.
• To make a Creole Rub, combine 2-1/2 tablespoons of paprika with 2 teaspoons each of white pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, 1 teaspoon each of cayenne, ground celery seeds and salt, 3 tablespoons of grated onion and 2 minced garlic cloves.
• A Jamaican Rub can be made with 1-1/2 teaspoons of allspice, 1 teaspoon each of thyme, curry powder, paprika, and sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon each of grated nutmeg and cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves.
• A Moroccan Rub is 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar, 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cumin, fenugreek, and 1/4 teaspoon each of cloves, cinnamon, allspice and cayenne.
• A Tennessee Rib Rub is 2 tablespoons each of black pepper and paprika, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon each of salt, chili powder and onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.
There are literally thousands of dry rubs you can make yourself that are likely to be better than those that are commercially produced to help sell a kitchen appliance. And even if your spice cabinet is bare, you can buy the spices you need to make batch after batch of various rubs for less than the cost of one order of manufactured spice sheets.