The Secrets to Achieving That True Smoky Barbecue Flavor

Have you ever been to a rib joint or a backyard barbecue and wondered just how they got that beautifully smoky taste in their food? Well, it’s not as difficult as it might seem. There are a few tips and techniques that I am going to share with you that will (with a little practice) make you into a real ‘barbecue pitmaster’.

It all begins with the choice of fuel. While gas (propane or natural) is very quick and convenient, it simply cannot, by nature, give you that most sought-after smoke flavor. It’s not the best fuel choice for our goal here today.

A charcoal fire is the most traditional and popular method for those after that great barbecue taste. Charcoal is made from hardwood among other things, which is the key to getting the right flavor. There’s a choice here too, briquets or lump (natural) charcoal. I generally start my fire in a charcoal chimney with briquets then add lump charcoal if needed. The reason for this is that lump charcoal ignites cleaner and does not give off the acrid smoke and possible bad taste. Lump charcoal also burns hotter and shorter than the briquets.

Oh, by the way, NEVER use lighter fluid. It has a tendency of giving the food a ‘diesel-like’ flavor. Always start your fire in a charcoal chimney. This is a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way to go. The heat is funneled straight up and ignites the charcoal more evenly and quickly.

There are some people who use nothing but wood in their grills and smokers. Many verities of hardwood can be used by itself with amazing results. I’ll tell you about the different types of wood in a minute.

But the method most utilized by us barbecue enthusiasts is a combination of both charcoal and hardwood. By combining these two, you get the best of both fuels. The charcoal ensures a longer sustaining fire, while the hardwood adds to the smoky flavor.

Now let’s talk about hardwood. There are many verities to choose from here too. I will cover the most popular ones used, but don’t feel limited to these suggestions. Try experimenting with others.

ALDER
Alder is a very delicate wood with a hint of sweetness. It goes good with poultry, fish, pork and some game birds.

APPLE
Apple is a favorite of mine in combination with hickory when doing pork ribs. It has a mildly sweet fruity flavor. It’s also good with poultry.

CHERRY
Cherry is another of the fruity and mild hardwoods. It’s also good on pork, poultry and some beef cuts.

HICKORY
Hickory is by far the most commonly used hardwood in barbecue. Its’ sweet and strong flavor is good with pork, ham and beef. A very good choice when grilling steaks.

MAPLE
Maple is a mellow and smoky wood with a hint of sweetness. If you like to smoke cheese, this is the wood for you. It is also good with pork, poultry and game birds.

MESQUITE
Mesquite wood burns hot with a strong earthy flavor. It is popular in the south, especially Texas. It’s good with beef, fish, chicken and some game birds.

OAK
Oak gives a heavy smoke flavor. Red Oak is really good on ribs, while White Oak is a longer burning wood. Use Oak on red meat, pork and fish.

PECAN
Pecan is very good choice for smoking. It has a subtly sweet and mild flavor. Pecan goes well with poultry, beef and pork. It also works well when smoking cheese.

Other woods that give great smoke are: Almond, Ash, Birch, Grapevines, Mulberry, Pear and the sweet fruitwoods like Apricot, Plum, Peach and Nectarine. These are all suitable for smoking so, do some experimenting.

The following are a few unsuitable woods for grilling and smoking that possibly could even be poisonous. Stay away from: PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR and CYPRESS. Also ELM, EUCALYPTUS, SASSAFRAS and SYCAMORE are woods not to use.

I’m sure if you follow these guidelines, with a little practice you’ll be able to achieve that wonderful smoky taste that we all strive for. Be patient, as it will take some time to develop your own skills. But remember, just have fun with it. Good luck and good eating.

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How to Grill Chicken

Cooking over an open fire is the oldest and most universal cooking technique. Its popularity comes from the ease it allows in preparing meals and the smoky flavors and aromas. Grilling works for all kinds of foods and is good for persons without much cooking expertise.

 

There are as many different methods for cooking chicken, and Grilled chicken is a barbecue favorite. Flare-ups and charring are the biggest threats to great grilled chicken but can be prevented by trimming excess fat from the chicken and by brushing grilled chicken with barbecue sauce only during the last few minutes of cooking. The high level of sugar in most barbecue sauces and teriyaki can cause grilled chicken to burn quickly.

 
Rubs, marinades, bastes, and sauces are complement grilled recipes. When marinating, let the chicken remain in the marinade for several hours before grilling. If this is not possible use an injector to get the flavor deep inside the muscle. Limit the amount of salt (if any) in marinades or seasonings. Salt causes the juices to be drawn out, leaving your chicken dry. If your chicken needs salt, apply it just before serving.

 
Marinades with sugar or tomato sauce will burn and so should be used with caution. Never apply BBQ sauce until just before taking the chicken off the grill. Turn and reapply several times, turning the chicken before it can burn. Seal the surface of the meat to maintain the juices by using oil or butter. blend a little oil with fresh marinade (avoid brushing with the marinade that the chicken was in) and keep brushing the surface of the chicken while grilling.

Grill the chicken until it’s properly done, but do not overcook as this will lead to dryness. Undercooked chicken may still contain bacteria so it’s best to ensure chicken is perfectly cooked. To ascertain this use only medium or low heat until the last stage of cooking which will allow the heat to pierce slowly to the center of the cut without burning or drying the outer tissues. These methods will also increase the smoke flavors.

 
It is best to grill boneless chicken; chicken parts such as the wing and breast are easy to rid of bones. When grilling with the bone, it will attract heat which may cause the outside tissues to be overcooked whilst the tissues near the bones are still uncooked. Chicken is done when the innermost part reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit; the use of a meat thermometer can assist to determine this.

 

Please visit these links for more information on How to Grill Chicken and How to Grill Chicken Breast.

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BBQ Ribs Made Easy

Preparing the Ribs

To cook up great ribs, first you will need to peel the papery membrane off the back of the rack of ribs. It’s a little tricky if you’re not sure what you are looking for, but all over the surface of the back of the ribs there a this thin membrane. You can use a tine of a fork or something similar to seperate the membrane, and then just peel it off.

Next thing is to rinse the ribs with cold water and dry with a paper towel. Then put the ribs in a large baking dish. Put in enough apple cider to cover the ribs. Let it marinade for at least 3 hours, up to 24 hours.

Preparing Your Grill for Cooking

Setup your grill for indirect cooking (if you have charcoal then put 1 small pile of lit coals on one side of the grill, place a 2nd pile of lit coals on the opposite end). If you have a 2+ burner gas grill then just light one of the burners. The goal is to have it so the ribs don’t cook directly over the coals (or burner)

Place the ribs on the grill (not over the coals or burner) Every 1/2 hour or so spray the ribs down with apple cider to keep them nice and moist. The ribs will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook. during the last 1/2 hour baste the ribs heavily with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Once you’re done do a final basting. (I often see people start out by putting BBQ sauce on the ribs before cooking, then they wonder why the ribs come out burnt really fast. It’s because the sugar in the BBQ burns, not the ribs)

You will know the ribs are done when the meat peels back from the bone about 1/4 inch.

You can also use wood smoke and smoke the ribs while you are grilling. I always use hickory.

The above is pretty darn basic, but should net you some tasty KC style ribs with a good consistancy.

Sometimes during the last 1/2 when I put BBQ sauce on, I then wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and let then finish in there. That will keep the ribs really moist (but not too moist)

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Smoked Pork Butt – A Classic BBQ Dry Rub Recipe

If you are tring to think of something unusual, but at the same time traditional, a smoked pork butt with barbecue dry rub is a good means to present smoked meat with tremendous flavor inexpensively and easily.

All that is needed to get this recipe to work is a few classic ingredients for the rub, your favorite wood chips and charcoal, a a simple smoker, and about an 8 to nine lb pork butt. Contrary to what some people think, a pork butt is not the posterior quarters of the hog. It is in fact the the shoulder area of the pig where it connects or “butts” to the shoulder blade. This meat is highly luscious and works very well in a smoker.

Steps To Creating The Faultless BBQ Dry Rub

First off what you need to do is ready the bbq dry rub for the meat. While this barbeque rub recipe is not super complex, it must be pursued exactly to get the optimal results. You will need :

2 tbsp of kosher or coarse salt,
2 tsp’s of ground black pepper,
2 teaspoons of paprika,
1 teaspoon of cayenne,
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

Combine them in a nice size mixing bowl. After these are mixed thoroughly take the barbeque dry rub and rub the butt down thoroughly. Then stick it in a pan and let it sit in the refrigerator for the night. This will exponentially enhance the taste of the pork and is an essential step.

Once you are satisfied that the meat has sopped up as much flavor as possible, set up your smoker. If you have never done this before it is again not a difficult process, but one that will take some time. Be certain that you get a smoker that features a thermometer on it. You want to get your smoker up to around 225 degrees nominal. I gain the optimal results at around 240. Once the smoker has reached that temperature, position the pork in the smoker fatty side up and smoke until it is good and soft. By placing it fatty side up you let the fatty juices an opportunity to work over and all through the meat. You might want to rotate it and swab it every two hours or so. Normal smoking time is 70 minutes per lb, or somewhere between 8-10 hours. You will know when the pork butt is ready because it will be fork tender. Watch for tenderness and temperature in the meat area under or above the bone.

When you have finally taken it out, let it sit for about thirty minutes then with 2 forks pull the prok apart. Combine with barbecue sauce to you preference and you are done.
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Smoked BBQ Baby Back Ribs Recipe

While it is relatively common for baby back ribs to be grilled or braised for a relatively brief period, the best results come from a low-and-slow smoking process using the right combination of wood chunks to give it a truly distinctive aroma and flavor.This smoked rib recipe is tried and tested, and makes succulent tasting ribs that are a joy to eat.

Ingredients

1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Non-Iodized Table Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (dried out by exposing on grease-proof paper at room temperature for several hours)
5 Tablespoons + 1 Teaspoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons + 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
4 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
4 Teaspoons Black Pepper freshly ground (important)
4 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
4 Teaspoons Onion Powder

To make great baby back ribs, you need to pick the best quality loin baby back ribs you can find, around 2lbs in size, trimming off the inner stomach-side membrane. Any remaining excess fat should again, be trimmed off and discarded.

For the dry rub, combine all of the ingredients together in bowl, and then transfer and store in an air-tight container.
Preparing the baby back ribs

Sprinkle the ribs with the dry rub a few hours before cooking and allow them to come to room temperature.

Avoid over-seasinging, a light and consistent coating is all that is required. You will see that the spices will form a pleasing red coating after sitting for about an hour or so. This is what you are looking for.

Cooking the baby back ribs

For the best results, smoke the baby-back ribs in a Weber Smokey Mountain, Big Green Egg, or a Kamado.

First of all fire up the smoker by using 12lbs or so of charcoal and 3 chunks of White oak and 2 chunks of Cherry wood. The wood chunks should be approximately 3″ in diameter.

The charcoal should be started in a chimney-style starter avoiding the use of starter fluids as this can (and usually does), impair the flavor. Wait until the charcoal has turned grey/white.

At this stage, remove the bark from the White Oak and Cherry wood, and do not soak them.

During cooking you will notice that there is far less smoke being produced as you would normally see when using moistened wood chunks, this is perfectly O.K., and the flavors will permeate the ribs just the same.

Keep the smoker’s water-pan topped up with tap water, using boiled water that has been allowed to cool slightly if you prefer, and regulate the temperature by utilizing the lower vents on the smoker only.

Avoid closing the top vent at all costs as this will produce less desirable results, and if your smoker doesn’t happen to have one, use a BBQ thermometer probe so that you can keep an eye on the smokers internal temperature.

The ribs should be placed on rib racks and cooked at around 225 degrees for 3 hours at which points the lid should be opened for the first time, and then turning the rib slabs over. At this point all vents on the smoker should be opened fully.

With the smokers vents opened, the internal temperature of the smoker should hit the 240 to 270 degree range.

Monitor the ribs progress every 30 minutes until done. You will know when they are ready as the baby back ribs will turn brown in color and the meat will have pulled down over half an inch on the longer bones, usually after 1-2 hours more smoking.

Remove the baby back ribs from the smoker and generously sauce both sides before cutting into individual ribs.

Tip: Allow the ribs to rest for at least 10 minutes prior to serving, wrapped in tin foil to preserve the moisture and delicious juices.

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