Spice Up Your BBQ


Wood smoke adds the most flavor to your BBQ. Rubs, marinades and mops are used to affect the flavors of the dark outside meat and help form the bark characteristic of barbecue. The taste of the interior meat may be changed by applying a finishing or table sauce. Excellent 'Q' can be made with some, all or none of these.

A rub is a combination of spices that is “rubbed” into the surface of the meat. The rub seals in the flavor of the meat, and help form a tasty crust.  The rub pulls moisture from the air, and draws the juices from inside the meat. This reaction causes the meat to literally marinate itself. The best way to apply the rub is to sprinkle the rub onto the meat, wrap in plastic wrap and store in a refrigerator overnight. Of course, this, like most things relating to good Q, comes from experimenting and experience. Try different techniques to apply the rub and how long to let it set. After sitting overnight, the rub will have become almost pasty from all the juices. I like to rub this back into the meat. I also usually apply some more rub just before the meat goes onto the smoker. What kind of spices make up a rub?  Most recipes have two ingredients in common: salt and sugar. These are also the two most controversial ingredients. Salt draws moisture out of the meat, and sugars will burn or caramelize on the surface. Moderation is the key! Some of both ingredients are good, but don’t overdo it. Other common ingredients are: onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, cumin, sage, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Learn the flavor of all the seasonings and herbs, and once again, experiment.

Marinades are used to tenderize and flavor meat. There are as many marinades as there are rubs. They all have several ingredients in common:  acid, oil, and spices. The acid is to help break the meat down, the oil is to add moisture to the meat, and spices add flavor. The most common types of acid are fruit juices, vinegar, milk, wine and beer. The oil is commonly vegetable oil, but other oils can be used. Avoid using bacon drippings and butter in marinades that are to be used in the refrigerator, they will coagulate and be of little use.  The spices are usually very strong, or assertive since they grow weaker the longer they sit. Care must be taken with tenderizers, vinegar’s and citrus juices which can make meat mushy if left in too long. An interesting addition to marinades is ginger-ale for chicken and cola, 7-Up or Dr. Pepper for red meats. Do not use aluminum pans to marinate! The acids will react with the aluminum. Since most all pans are alloys these days, I prefer to use a glass baking dish or a large plastic bag to marinate in. CAUTION: Do not re-use a marinate. There is a very good chance that bacteria will be present from the raw meat. If you