Barbecue done right is a commitment. And, to a purist, it’s not the same as simply grilling meat over an open fire. Most regional styles of barbecue call for seasoning the piece of meat with a salt and pepper or a special spice rub, then cooking it low and slow (~225 degrees F) over an indirect wood fire for up 8-11 hours or more. The type of wood and the smoke it imparts lends flavor to the meat, and the low heat caramelizes the ribbons of muscle and fat within the meat producing a delicious result. Add your favorite style of barbecue sauce, and you have some fine eating!
Here are our best tips for trying your hand at barbecue at home:
Pick Quality Ingredients
Pick a quality cut of meat that has a good ribbon of fat within it. The better the quality of meat, the better the result. If you can source your meat from a butcher shop or farmer’s market, so much the better.
For making your own herb and spice rub, consider grinding, roasting and preparing the spices yourself. Fresh ingredients make a huge difference. And once you prepare them, you can have them on hand for the next recipe. And you may want to use a small amount of your rub in the sauce to tie the flavors together.
Select the right fuel for your fire
Setting up a wood fire to run for hours is going to require a good deal of wood. Make sure your source of wood – hickory, oak, cherry or other hard wood – is sufficiently cured and dry. That way you don’t get too much smoke and soot from the fire. Alternately, you can use charcoal briquettes, but you’ll need to replace them from time to time. Having a good grill thermometer will help you monitor the heat and keep it at a constant, which is very important to proper smoking technique.
Experiment with your sauce
Are you a fan of sauce before or after the meat comes off the grill? Try it more ways than one, and see which one you like best. Meat can be basted with sauce while cooking, and/or it can be served with sauce. There are many types of barbecue sauces you can try, and you can experiment with what you like best. An easy tomato-based sauce combines ketchup, brown sugar, and spices. Add hot pepper and vinegar if it needs some kick. Your local grocery store probably has a number of types of sauces to try as well. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of sweeteners, vinegar, herbs, and peppers.
Taste your food
After your barbecue has cooked the requisite time and you’ve removed it from the grill, let it rest to redistribute the juices in the meat before cutting into it or pulling it apart. Give it a good taste and correct the spices. (This is my favorite part!) If you’re using sauce, give it a dip in your sauce and adjust the ingredients accordingly before serving it.
We can help
Does the word barbecue make your mouth water? Let SmokeHouse 54 whet your appetite with our barbecue meats that are meticulously smoked low and slow for hours. Add on the traditional comfort food side dishes cooked from scratch, and wash it down with a pint of our exclusive SmokeHouse Citrus Amber Ale to round out a meal that will have you coming back for more. Stop by our restaurant or place your order to go for pickup after work and we’ll be glad to help you satisfy your barbecue fix.