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Coal Management Super BBQ Tips Choosing Smoke Marinade What is a Rub?
Let's Cook!
Back in the hills, if you watch the old timers cook, they have their own way of adding special spices and herbs. Our Grandparents did things the same way. If you asked them how much salt, or pepper, or this or that went into a recipe, they would tell you "a pinch" of this, "a little bit" of that. Well, here's a fun guide for you if you have a recipe with those types of measurments in there.
Mountain Measurements
1 smidget = a tency little bit

3 smidgets = 1 pinch

4 pinches = 1 little bit

4 little bits = 1 mil and a mount

3 mil and a mounts = 1 right smart

5 right smarts = a whole heap


Coal Management

No matter what type of fuel you use, the resulting fuel is the same... a bed of hot coals. You can use hardwood, charcoal briquettes, or lump charcoal. All three burn down to hot coals, which cooks the meat. The advantage of using wood over briquettes or lump charcoal is the flavor imparted by the smoke. Briquettes and lump charcoal are processed products and, although they do smoke while burning, have lost virtually all of the means to produce the flavorizing effect of burning wood. If using briquettes or lump charcoal, wood chips or chunks are required to produce the smoke that flavors the meat.

If you burn wood in a fireplace you know the more dense the wood is, the longer the wood burns. Most any wood will work for a fireplace. Not so with your smoker. Hardwoods, either from a nut or fruit tree are most commonly used due to the flavor imparted by the wood. All hardwoods are dense, just some more dense than others. Although a few pitmasters (you can count them on one hand) will use green wood, it is best to use wood that has aged or cured out. Most wood is best used in the range of 6 months to 1 year. If you have wood that has been around a while and is looking old and getting light in weight, it can be used as fire-starter wood. Use it to start your fire. Use good, heavy, dense pieces of wood for getting your primary bed of hot coals.


Super BBQ Tips

• When purchasing beef it should be a bright, cherry-red color and the fat a creamy white.

• Shrimp, scallops or cubes of firm fish make excellent kabobs.

• Purchase beef that is firm to the touch, not soft.

• Fish usually takes about 10 minutes to grill for each inch of thickness.

• Cut vegetables in large chunks and put directly on the grill, or in smaller pieces if you have a grill basket - they'll cook faster.

• When buying fish look for glossy, moist and intact steaks or fillets.

• Always marinate in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.

• Tender beef cuts need to be marinated only 15 or up to 2 hours for more flavor.

• Brush meat with fresh marinade during cooking for more flavor.

• Do not pierce meat before marinating as it causes juices and moisture to be lost during cooking.

• Keep fresh lemon juice handy while grilling fish. You can brush this on while you grill to add flavor and keep the fish moist.

• Ribs and chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 140 and 160 degrees respectively.

• Don't squish kabobs. Leave a 1/4-inch space between food pieces so the heat can circulate better and crisp all the edges.

• Leave a thin layer of fat on steaks during cooking to preserve juiciness. Trim fat after cooking.

• Pat steaks dry with paper towels for better browning.

• Cooking meats at too high a temperature can cause the outside to char before the interior reaches the proper doneness.

• Use the "poke test" to determine whether your meat is done or not. Gently push the top of the meat with your finger. The resilience will tell you the degree of doneness.
* Rare: Soft/squishy
* Medium-rare: Slightly resilient
* Medium: Semi-firm.
* Well-done: Firm

• The most reliable way to test when food is done is by using a thermometer.

• To assure success when cooking on wooden skewers, soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes before putting the food on them.

• To cook a 1-inch thick steak over medium heat, allow 4 minutes on each side for rare, 5 minutes for medium and 6 minutes for well done.

• Let beef and other meats stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (no longer) before grilling. This standing time allows the meat to be more tender.

• To prevent fish from sticking to the grill, spray the cold grill rack with cooking spray or brush lightly with vegetable oil.

• Foil with holes poked into it can also be placed on the grill to stop the fish from sticking.

• Go easy with the spatula. Pressing down on the meat squeezes out its flavourful juices, causing the meat to dry out, and can also cause dangerous flare-ups.

• Remove cooked meat from the grill and place on a clean plate immediately. Cover with foil to keep juicy.

• Preheat gas barbecue at least 10 minutes on high heat for searing and to prevent sticking on the grill. Make sure your grill is clean before using.

• When grilling kebabs judge the cooking time of each item. Precook those things that will take longer then assemble the kebab and grill.

• To help keep meats moist during a long grill or barbecue, add a pan of water close to the fire, but away from the meat.

• If you use the same marinade that you've soaked meat in as a baste or sauce, remember to boil it for a couple of minutes first to insure that any bacteria is killed off.

• When grilling whole chiles be careful of the smoke. Chili smoke can burn the eyes almost as effectively as putting the chili right in your eyes.

• Vent holes in a covered grill control air flow. To raise the temperature, open vents fully. To lower the temperature, close halfway.

• Season herbs and spices, garlic, salt and pepper immediately before grilling for maximum taste.

• Fish fillets (like salmon) will need about 6-8 minutes per side. Trout fillets may only need 4 minutes per side.

• When cooking vegetables on over an open flame, presoak them in cold water for half an hour to keep them from drying out.

• When cooking larger pieces of meat, like roasts, over charcoal, pile the coals on one side and place the food on the other. This allows for indirect cooking and reduces charring.

• Don't peek. Resist the urge to open your grill cover until absolutely necessary.

• For direct cooking on a charcoal grill, make sure there is enough charcoal to extend in a single layer 1 to 2 inches beyond the area of the food on the grill.

• When grilling with the lid closed, open a can of beer and place the beer over the hottest part of the fire. The beer will boil and saturate the air inside the grill with water vapor, beer flavors and alcohol. This will help keep the roasting meats moist, while adding flavor to the meat.

• Tomato and/or sugar based BBQ sauces should be added at the end of the grilling process, since these products will burn easily and are seldom considered an internal meat flavoring.

• Lock in flavors by keeping the grill lid closed.

• Light basting sauces, such as beer for brats or olive oil on chicken, can be added throughout the grilling process without burning.

• Fish is cooked when the meat flakes easily with a fork and appears opaque all the way through. If any of the meat is still glossy and translucent then it is not done.

• A grill basket makes grilling fish, especially smaller pieces, considerably easier for cooking and clean-up.

• Line inside of a charcoal grill with Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil for easy cleanup.


Choose a Great Smoke Flavor


When you BBQ you must add a smoke flavor to the meat.

This is one of the two most important things you can do to add flavor to your meat.

A good smoke flavor will penetrate the meat with the heat and give your meat a real boost in flavor. Don't add a smoke flavored spice.

I get asked all the time...... What kind of wood do I use?

The answer is a wood that produces a good flavor and you can get your hands on. Many people use what is around them locally. It could be oak, pecan, hickory, or a fruit wood. These all work great.

The two most popular BBQ woods are hickory and oak. Down here in South Texas I use mesquite because of it's sweet smoky taste.

Each wood gives its own distinctive flavor to the meat you are cooking. For a comparison of different woods click here. Do yourself a favor and try different woods until you find your favorite.

TIP: Never use pine or cedar. There are some bad things in the smoke that can ruin your meat and cooker, and possibly make everyone that eats the meat sick.

O.K. If you use a gas grill you can still add the smoke flavor to your meat. Simply put a metal pan with some wood chips (soak them in water for about 30 minutes first) of your favorite wood on top of the fake charcoal while you are cooking. This will give you a smoke taste. Check them periodically and keep adding them to the metal pan as needed.

If you are using a charcoal grill, you might be using some type of charcoal that has added a wood to the briquettes themselves. I would suggest using more chips of wood in a metal container placed on the briquettes for more flavoring. You can even put the wood chips directly on the briquettes if you wish.

TIP: Never use a cheap charcoal. Many of the cheap charcoals are made with sawdust and glues. They simply just don't do anything for your flavor but make it worse. Always be sure your charcoal is made with a hardwood.

TIP: Don't use charcoal lighter fluid when starting your fire as this will leave an unpleasant taste in the smoke. Also, don't use the charcoal briquettes that have added starter fluid built into them.

O.K. - PREPARE THE MEAT FOR THE GRILL

What do you need to do to get the meat ready for the grill? There are basically two ways to prepare your meat for added flavor.


Marinades
A marinade is a combination of several ingredients used to tenderize and flavor the meat. There are many recipes out there for marinades with all kinds of flavors. But marinades are always a liquid and have a few common ingredients; acid, oil, and spices.

The acid is used to help break down the meat, the oil is used to keep the meat from drying out, and the spices are used to add additional flavor to your meat.

There are several different acids that are commonly used
Vinegar
Milk
Wine
Beer
Fruit Juices

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Oils can be a vegetable oil, peanut oil, olive oil, but never use any oil that will coagulate in the frig such as butter or bacon drippings.

Spices can be a wide variety to suit your taste buds. They are used to add additional flavor (remember the smoke adds flavor) to your meat. Examples are spices include peppers, salts, paprika, cumin, cayenne, basil, mustard, etc. Of course you will usually have onion and garlic also.

You can always experiment around with mixes of oils, acids, and spices to get the taste you prefer. This takes a lot of your valuable time up when you could have your meat already on the grill cooking.

WARNING: Using marinades can cause some real serious problems if they are not handled right. Here is a list of some of the problems you could have.

1. Use extreme care when you use tenderizers, vinegar, and citrus juices. If left on the meat too long, they can cause the meat to become mushy.
2. Do not use aluminum pans when you marinade. The acids in the marinade can react with the aluminum and cause a serious problem. Always use a glass dish or a large plastic bag to marinade your meat.
3. Perhaps the biggest problem; do not reuse any of the marinade again once you have let your meat sit in it unless you take the marinade and boil it first. Chances are the meat you just marinated has left bacteria from the meat in the marinade and this bacteria can cause severe sickness. Always throw out any marinade you have used when you are finished.
4. Marinades need refrigeration. Always keep the meat you are marinating or have marinated in the frig until you put it on the grill. Once you put it on the grill and the heat from the grill reaches the marinade, the tendency is for the marinade to roll off the meat. So, all that work is for nothing, except the small amount of marinade that actually pierced the meat.
5. Marinades have a short shelf life. Store any unused marinate in air tight container (remember o aluminum) in the fridge.
6. Marinades have a tendency to burn very easily on the outside of your meat. This creates an unpleasant taste and color to your meat.

LET ME SAY IT ONE MORE TIME... BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WHEN YOU USE ANY MARINADE

I will tell you that I only use a marinade occasionally when I cook chicken or pork tenderloin. I use Italian dressing as my marinade. I just pour a little over the chicken or pork loin, let it stand for a couple of minutes, and then add Texas BBQ Rub over the meat. The Italian dressing helps hold on the rub as well as adds flavor.

REMEMBER MARINADES DO ADD FLAVOR RO YOUR MEATS.... BUT.... THEY HAVE THE POTENTIAL DANGERS OF SPREADING BACTERIA, CAUSING SICKNESS IF HANDLED IMPROPERLY, AND NEEDING REFRIGERATION.

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What is a RUB?

Rubs are used in every part of the country to enhance the flavor of BBQ. Generally, rubs are a combination of spices which are "rubbed" or sprinkled on the outside surface of the meat before you put it on the grill.

Rubs do GREAT things to your meat.....

Rubs seal the flavor of the meat

Rubs form a tasty crust on the BBQ

Rubs enhance the color of the cooked meat

Most Important - Rubs pull moisture from the air while drawing juices from inside meat. This reaction is called osmosis. This literally causes the meat to marinade itself as it cooks.

Rubs are a combination of different spices mixed with salts and sugars. The salt draws moisture out of the meat, the sugar locks in the flavor of the spices by caramelizing on the surface of the meat and sealing in all those great spice flavors. The sugar also assists in osmosis.

Spices in rubs can include allspice, onion, garlic, cinnamon, chili pepper, paprika, mustard, cumin, sage, or thyme (just to name a few).

Advantages of Rubs Over Marinades

Rubs are more economical than marinades

Rubs do not need any refrigeration

Rubs have a long shelf life (several months)

You use only the amount you need, and save the rest in your pantry for later

Rubs add a colorful and tasteful crust to the finished meat

Rubs self marinate the meat so you don't have to marinate the meat while it cooks

Rubs are EASY to put on the meat

Rubs make it easier for you to control the flavor of the meat

Rubs are perfect for larger pieces of meat such as pork spareribs, pork butts, briskets, and tenderloins

A rub can either be wet or dry. Wet rubs have some liquid in them that gives them a consistency of a paste. Some rubs (such as Texas BBQ Rub) start out as a dry tub, but when it is heated, becomes a paste.

Why do they call it a rub? I prefer to rub the surface of the meat with the rub. Some prefer to shake the rub on the meat and leave it that way. Either way the rub will enhance the natural flavor of the meat and add those special spice flavorings to the meat.

You can apply rub up to a couple of days before you cook your meat, wrap it up in a plastic wrap or butcher paper, and put it in the frig. (For larger pieces of meat this works best). Add a generous portion of the rub at first to the meat and then as it sits you should add a little more rub before cooking.

Personally, I apply TEXAS BBQ RUB as little as a few minutes before I put the meat on the cooker. It seems like I never have enough empty space in my frig for large amounts of meats. No need to overnight it in the frig with TEXAS BBQ RUB. I'll give you more tips on applying TEXAS BBQ RUB in a few minutes. Using these tips you will immediately turn TEXAS BBQ RUB into a paste.

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Let's Cook!

For large cuts of meat (brisket, pork butts, pork loins, beef tenderloins and pork spareribs) I always use indirect heat and smoke to cook the meat. These pieces of meat (and most others) require time to cook thoroughly and indirect heat mixed with smoke will slowly penetrate the meat and cook it to perfection

If you are using a gas grill with at least 2 burners, it is easy for you to cook with indirect heat. Just turn off one of the burners and put your meat on that side of the grill.

If you only have one burner on your gas grill, you can still accomplish cooking with indirect heat and smoke by placing a pan of water on the grill and put your meat on a rack inside of the pan. Be sure to check the water on occasion and fill up the pan when it gets low on water.

For charcoal grills you simply stack the charcoal to one side of the grill and cook on the opposite side of the grill.

Smokers are the easiest since they have been designed to cook with only the heat and smoke pulled over the meat.

You need to use a thermometer to make sure the heat is right to cook with. Some cooker and grills come with built in thermometer to temp gauge and these will usually work just fine. If you don't have a temp gauge built in your cooker then get one and put it where you will be cooking next to the meat.

You are now ready. Get your grill up to temperature and while you are letting it get hot, take your meat out of the frig, rub it down with Texas BBQ Rub and let it stand at room temperature until you are ready to put it on the grill.

ENJOY YOUR SUCCESS!!!! Remember these things when you are BBQ'ing:
Patience
Cooking at low temperatures
Use a great rub

And here's where ya get the rub!
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