The other day my friend and I were discussing barbecue and she was troubled because she had rubs but never used them because she didn’t know how. I’m learning a little bit about barbecue, and I’m willing to share my information with you. Add to the conversation and share what you know too.
- Rubs – It’s a dry mix of spices – also sometimes salt and sugars. After you cut away the fat, or if you don’t want it – the skin (I remove chicken skin) and generally prepare the meat, you sprinkle on the rub and give it a little patting or rubbing.
- Marinade – It’s a wet mix of spices, liquids etc, that you let your meat or fish hangout in for a little while before cooking. You can let a marinade sit for a half an hour or even over night. A marinade can be used to tenderize the meat by using an acid and oil. Don’t marinade fish for more than 30 minutes because the acid will cook the fish. Do not reuse the marinade as a sauce for cooked meat, because it will still have the uncooked juices in it. Discard and use a sauce .
- Brine – A salt water and spice mix that you soak the meat like a turkey or whole turkey in. The bird will need to be rinsed thoroughly before using. It may impart a salty flavor to the meat, but it will also probably be very tender. After rinsing you can put on a marinade or sauce before it goes on the grill – or even just a little oil and sprinkle on some herbs.
- Barbecue Sauce – This can be marinade you reserved and set aside before you poured it over the meat, it can be a brand new layer of flavor, or it can be your dry rub mixed with some wet ingredients to create a sauce. This sauce should be reserved for your almost done meat. Sauces sometimes burn if they are slathered on while the meat is cooking, so if you put it on a little before the meat is done, then you will impart the flavor without ruining it. As with the marinade, do not use again after the meat is finished cooking.
- Finishing sauce – This is the sauce you put on after the meat has finished cooking – something to add that final zing. You can place it on the meat, or serve it tableside for your guests to put on themselves.
Here’s the fun part, you can do a marinade, and then put on the rub or use the rub before a sauce, or use a marinade, then a rub then a sauce and a finishing sauce. Using one of these preparations doesn’t preclude you from using another, but also it isn’t required to use all for one meal. For my chicken breasts I like the rub taste to be on the chicken itself. So I put the rub on the chicken, then use some barbecue sauce as a marinade and let the chicken sit in it – either in a bag or bowl for a half hour. We put it on the grill and towards the end will slather on some more sauce. I like my sauce to be all cooked down into it, so I don’t put any finishing on it.
For my fish, I use a marinade with the rub in it. Use some more while I’m grilling and then make a dijonaise-dill sauce for table side.
For steak I like it mostly plain with a little oil, salt and pepper. I’ve been reading though that some cuts take to this more than others, so I’m experimenting to see how I like it best.
What’s your favorite way to prepare your favorite cut of meat? Do you have any suggestions?
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