When exploring how to BBQ with perfection you will need to know the many essential flavors of various types of BBQ meats. I personally feel that simplicity is usually best. Too many contradicting flavors can take away from the flavor of the meat and will likely overwhelm your taste buds. With barbecue, the woods used during the cooking and the seasonings used for rubbing and marinating the meat should add flavor but not be over powering.
Among the more frequently used BBQ woods you will find apple, cherry and maple barbecue smoking chips. I like to have a few varieties available. I also am always sure to have on hand what I feel are the essential BBQ seasoning, spices, and basting products. These items can be used in various combinations based on your personal preference. Making your own BBQ rubs, brine, and barbecue sauces for any of your favorite meats will be quite easy if you keep the following list on hand.
Basting & Sauce Ingredients:
Apple juice: This is Ideal for basting any BBQ meat and especially useful for ribs, pork butt, and chicken. Apple juice and apple cider can often be used in many brine recipes, bbq sauces, injections, or even in the water pan to keep the meat moist.
Apple cider vinegar: This is a great ingredient for BBQ sauces and mops. You may also use it to thin store bought sauces and make a quick and simple mop or marinade. This is also a great product for dressing bbq pulled pork.
Molasses: This is used primarily for making sauces. The bold flavor and dark color gives the sauce its thick texture an dark color. Molasses and apple cider vinegar are 2 key ingredients I use in my personal sauce recipes.
Whiskey or Bourbon: Using these can bring great malt flavor and help to add balance to your mops or sauces. Try a bottle mixed with half Jack Daniel’s and half apple juice for basting BBQ meats.
Brown Sugar: This is another essential ingredient in my own barbecue sauce recipes. This is a great way to bring a subtle sweetness to pork butt, chicken, ribs, or pulled pork dishes. Brown sugar blends very well with hot or spicy flavors to give you just a touch of sweetness in your hot and spicy sauce.
Seasonings and Spices:
Onion powder: This is one of my personal preferences of ingredients for my BBQ rubs. The onion flavor works well with any BBQ meat.
Cumin: This is among the most important ingredients for BBQ rubs and chili recipes. This ingredient will bring a slight smoky flavor and it is especially good for a pork BBQ.
Paprika: The primary ingredient found in virtually all BBQ rubs as well as chili recipes. This adds a great color and flavor to any BBQ meat and the subtle flavor helps to balance the other ingredients.
Chile Powder: This flavorful blend can be used on any BBQ meat. This is a great way to add some spice or heat to your BBQ meat.
Garlic powder: One of the major ingredients in my personal recipes of BBQ rubs and sauces. This adds a subtle sweetness along with a touch of heat and brings balance to spicy flavors.
Kosher salt: I personally don’t care for a really salty taste. This salt helps to bring out the actual flavor of BBQ meats and has a much more subtle flavor than regular salt.
Black pepper: A very important part of any seasoning blend to get that hot and spicy touch. The bold flavor and peppery fragrance makes any BBQ meat better.
The truth about BBQ is that personal preference dictates the end result more than anything else. Practice with the flavors you enjoy and try different combinations of seasonings. You will find some you like and some you don’t but, ultimately you will enjoy the journey to find your BBQ perfection. The last and most important tip here is “cook low and slow”. This simply means use a temperature of 325 degrees or less (275 – 300 degrees is best) and cook for a longer period of time. Always make sure the temperature is constant and keep you water pan full so the meat doesn’t dry out. You can even BBQ in your oven at home during the winter if you think it is too cold to fire up the grill. Making BBQ in the oven will follow these same guidelines but for wood or smoke flavor you want to use a liquid smoke product rather than wood chips.