Cook It
Credit: Robin O'Neill Photography

You'll only get to enjoy the fruits – well, meats – of your rub-making labor if the spices actually stay on the flank or fish. The best way to ensure adhesion, according to Mays, is to walk away, leaving the meat to cook all on its own. "You don't want to agitate the meat with the rub on it," Mays says. "Cross-hatch maybe, but if you move it too much, you'll start to pull the rub off." After you're done being careful, be un-careful and dig in. The only way to know if your rub was a success is to eat the hell out of it.

Because most rub-makers won't meet with amazing success right from the get go, Mays recommends creating variations on rub recipes that definitely work. Here are some of Mays' favorites. Mess with them or don't; they'll make your meat better.