Barbecue: Finishing touches

Marinades, brines, spices and barbecue rubs are ways to penetrate meat with flavor prior to cooking it. However, once the meat is on the grill, wet seasonings are a way to add flavor while also keeping the meat from drying out.

Lou Rook III of Annie Gunn’s applies a thin basting sauce every 40 minutes when barbecuing. A typical mopping sauce for Rook is a combination of cider vinegar, honey, turmeric and salt and pepper. “But leave out the sugars,” advised Rook of mops. “Too much sugar, and it will brown up and caramelize the outside too fast.”

When using a sauce or glaze, the experts say that the right time to apply it is when the ’cuing is nearly complete. “People add sauce too soon,” noted Mike Mills of 17th Street Bar and Grill. “A sauce should be added right at the very end, when you are getting ready to take [the meat] off.” And when Mills adds sauce, such as with barbecued pork steaks, he applies it to each side at least twice, cooking the meat for one minute per side for a total of four minutes.

At Pappy’s, Mike Emerson and his crew apply a brown sugar and water glaze during the last half-hour of cooking. Skip Steele of Bogart’s Smokehouse waits until the ribs are removed from the grill before applying an apricot glaze and then blasting it with a blowtorch, pictured above. “It caramelizes the sugars and burns it into the product,” said Steele. “It’s a fantastic smell of burnt sugar. And it seals and protects the color and appearance. The taste? It is phenomenal.”