Search RibStars
Professional Cooking & BBQ Classes


MBQI @ The Culinary Center of Kansas City
Assorted Cooking Classes: Professional Cooking, Grilling, Smoking and Assorted Hands- on classes!

Smoke 'n' Fire Classes

Basic Grilling and Smoking Classes,  "Live" Mini Demos on Grilling on Saturday's

(Tools, Tips & Techniques)

The Rib Stars Blog - Award Winning Recipes, Tips and More...

Entries in BBQ Tips (5)


Proper Smoking Techniques

Developing a Proper Smoke Ring: This is one of the easiest but most misunderstood or taught process of smoking. The key to a GREAT smoke ring is a double understanding.

First, understand that the meat protein starts to set or cook at 120 degrees F internal temperature and is completely cook at 140 degrees. Once the protein sets it can not and will not absorb any more smoke flavor. Especially the leaner meats. This is important to know and learn.

Second, knowing that the first fact is true, now you want to get your meat in the smoker as cool as possible. The cooler the meat the better, but not frozen. The cooler the meat the bigger the range of temperature you have to develop your smoke ring. Example: Putting your Brisket in a smoker at 40 degrees now gives you a range of 80 degrees to develop your ring. If you put your brisket in at 60 degrees, you have now decreased your chance to develop a deeper smoke ring by 20 degrees of cooking time.
So if you looking for the smoke ring, get your product in your smoker at a cooler temperature.

Knowing that the meat protein sets at 120 degrees F, it is not necessary to use a lot of wood to achieve a great smoke ring and smoke flavor. Hence I usually only use wood for the first two hours of smoking. Excessive wood can lead to a harsh flavor on the outside of your meat. Specially in smaller smoker chambers where the air space to meat is smaller. In the larger trailer smokers, where you have much more air space to meat density, the amount and time of wood burning can be greatly increased. Brisket for example does not take well to too much smoke, neither does, chicken, ribs or seafood. Pork butts and shoulders can take more smoke flavor, mostly because of the amount of fat in the product.

Developing a Bark: The "bark" as it is known in the BBQ world is the outer crust developed by the rub which you use absorbing the juices as it cooks and adheres to the meat. It is important to remember not to "MOP" your smoking product to soon, since this will wash away your dry and you will not develop the bark. My rule of thumb is to not mop for the first two hours, allowing my dry rub to develop the bark before I will even start to mop my products.
I do not follow this rule for chicken, because chicken does not take as long to smoke and you really don't want a bark on your smoked chicken products, plus, dry rubs should be used sparingly on any chicken products.

Applying Dry Rubs: Dry rubs can be applied the night before or the hour before, this is really determined by the amount of salt ratio in your rub. The greater the salt ratio the more moisture it will pull out of your meat product. I like to apply my dry rubs on the product while the smoker fire and chamber is getting hot or to temperature. If the salt ratio is lower, I will use it earlier. In my Pulled Pork Rub, the salt ratio is very low, so I apply the rub 12 hours ahead. On ribs and brisket I apply the rub while the smoker is heating up. Chicken I apply the rub just before placing it in the smoker.

Mopping: Begin your mopping after the first 2 hours of smoking. Mopping can be done by using a cloth mop, brush or spray bottles. Mopping with flavored liquids will enhance the outer flavor of the meat and need to compliment your dry rub. Spray bottles work well for misting your product, but the mop needs to be strained of any particles to keep the spray head from clogging up.



The "FOUR" Flavor Stages of Making a Dry Rub

Stage 1: Sweet/Salt - This stage is the beginning stage and should be a balance between the Salts used and Sugars. Usually this stage is made up of equals parts. I only use Kosher Salts in my rubs, for it is a truer flavor and has no additives. I sometimes will split between Kosher and equal parts of Seasoning Salt. For the Sugars I use Turbinado Sugar (Natural Sugar in the Raw).

Stage 2: Color - This stage is just that, you are adding color to the rub to define you deepness of reds in your rubs. I use Paprika and Chili Powder for my color stage. (I personally do not use Chili powder as my heat source, I use it more as a coloring agent.

Stage 3: Heat - Here is where you need to be careful, since this is where you can make your rubs too hot in heat degrees of flavor. I like to use, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper. I tend to stay away from white pepper, it clumps easier than most peppers because of it's fine grind.

Stage 4: Flavorings - This is the stage where you can add a lot of your own personal taste, I recommend in this stage to start out with Garlic and Onion Powder (not salts), they add a truer flavor again. I put Lemon Pepper in my flavoring stage (more lemony than pepper) from here it is a matter of taste. I like cumin, poultry seasoning, ground oregano, ground thyme, etc. Use your sense of smell and taste to your liking.

Always remember to only change one ingredient at a time, when testing, so that you know what item changed the flavor!

The standard rule to follow in making a rub is as follows: 4 parts - Stage 1, 2 parts Stage 2, 1 part Stage 3 and 1 part Stage 4!

Have fun with your rubs and enjoy yourself! 

®Copyright Protected from Chef Richard's cookbook: BACKYARD BBQ The Art of Smokology™