Mops, Sops, & Bastes

BBQ Sauces





Rubs are for the most part, dry ingredients (herbs, spices and seasonings) that are rubbed or sprinkled on meat before cooking to enhance the favour when cooked. A dry rub is a form of marinade, however a rub has an advantage over a marinade, in that it forms a tasty crust on food when it is cooked. Rubs are used to provide a higher degree of concentrated favour to larger cuts of meat like beef brisket and pork shoulder. These cuts of meat will taste very bland without a good sprinkle of rub. Rubs are sometimes used as the basis for a table or finishing sauce for your cooked food, but most often a rub’s magic is done before the cooking process is over. Ingredients in dry rubs vary, depending on the kind of food you are using, but some items are more common than others. Salt and sugar seem to appear more often than anything else, and surprisingly are also the most controversial. Some cooks say that salt draws the moisture out of meat, and everyone agrees that sugar burns on the surface of food. If making your own rubs keep these two ingredients in check. Use them in moderation in a way that supports the rub rather than overpowers it. Garlic powder, onion powder, Chili and lemon pepper seasonings are also very popular. Secondary seasonings such as dry mustard, cumin, sage, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are used to round a rub off nicely. If you are making your own rubs, use finer ground spices for rubs on thinner cuts of meat, as these break down and favour the food faster. Use coarser ground spices for larger, thicker cuts of meat, as these will not break down as fast and will give you more favour when cooking over a longer period of time. When applying a rub to meat we do not actually rub the spices into the meat, as the name would suggest. We believe that rubbing causes the pores of the meat to clog up. In addition if you have ever rubbed a rub into a cut of meat, where does most of the rub end up? On your hands! When applying a rub, add it thoroughly and evenly. Generally you don’t need to skimp on the amount, though some dishes benefit from a light touch. Allow the favours of the rub to penetrate the food by covering it and leaving it in the refrigerator for a while. Fish fillets and shrimp usually need to sit for 30 to 45 minutes, big cuts of meat can be left overnight, and other kinds of food are somewhere in between.


Rub Tips





The word "marinade" is derived from the Latin or Italian "marinara", meaning of the sea. Much like seawater, the original marinades of many centuries ago were briny solutions meant to preserve, tenderise, and favour goods. Many think that marinades tenderise meat, but that is not quite accurate. Actually the liquid softens tissue, a subtle but important distinctions. Some marinades tame an undesirable taste, as a buttermilk soak does for wild game, but most often they are intended to complement and enrich the food’s natural favour There are three basic components of a marinade: acid, oil and seasonings. The acid breaks down the surface tissue of the food, and the seasonings add favour Acids can be added in various forms such as vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes and wine. The acid in a marinade can often be used as a favouring agent. The spices are usually very strong, or assertive since they grow weaker the longer they are involved with the marinating process. Because the use of salty seasonings can draw moisture out of the food during the marinating process, oil is usually part of the marinade. The oil commonly used is vegetable oil, but other oils can be used. Avoid using bacon drippings and butter in marinades that are to be used in the refrigerator, they will coagulate and be of little use. In general, the leaner the food, the more likely will be the need for oil in the marinade. Much like the acids, the oil in a marinade can often be used as a favouring agent. Because marinades contain acid you must use nonreactive containers to marinade in. Reactive materials such as aluminium may be discoloured and impart an unpleasant favour into the food that is being marinated. Use glass, ceramic dishes, or plastic bags. We like to use plastic bags like the ones sold by Zip-Loc as they are flexible and easy to find a place for in the refrigerator, are easy to turn over when you need to, and clean up is a breeze. If you plan to use your marinade either as a table sauce or as a baste while actually cooking the food, it must be boiled for at least 5 minutes. This will destroy any harmful bacteria that may have been placed into the marinade by the raw food. Marinating times will vary depending on the food. Three things that you must remember are:


Approximate Marinating Times


Time (hrs)


Time (hrs)

Beef Steaks

4 – 6

Chicken Breasts

2 – 4

Beef Kabobs

4 – 6

Chicken Pieces

3 – 4

Beef Roast

5 – 7

Chicken Wings

6 – 8

Beef Brisket

5 – 7

Whole Chicken (split)


Beef Short Ribs

6 - 8


4 – overnight

Pork Tenderloins

3 – 4

Turkey Quarters

4 – 8

Pork Chops

3 – 4


6 – 8

Spare Ribs

6 – 8

Game Birds

4 – 6

Lamb Kabobs

4 – 6


1 – 2


6 – 8

Shell Fish

- 1


Marinating Tips




Mops, Sops and Bastes


The words mop, sop, and baste are all interchangeable, and mean the same thing (We use the term "Mop" for the purpose of this discussion). They are thin liquids that usually contain acid, spices and sometimes oil. They are applied to food while it is cooking to help it retain moisture and to add another layer of favour

A mop can be something as simple as beer, fruit juice or meat stock, or can be very complex. In some cases if you have used a marinade, that becomes the mop after you have boiled it well. Acids such as lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar are common. Butter or oil are usually present when you are cooking food that tends to dry out quickly. Seasonings are often the same as you have used in your rub or marinade.

Most mops are cooked first to blend their favours They should be kept warm if you plan to use them right away, or reheated if they have been refrigerated. Mops are applied warm, and should be kept warm in between mopping. In fact we prefer to keep a mop simmering on the side throughout the cooking process, for three reasons: Firstly, you are not applying a cold liquid to your food. Secondly, through mopping your food in the early stages of cooking you can contaminate the mop with bacteria from the food. The simmering process will kill these bacteria. Thirdly, the simmering process reduces the mop and concentrates the favour

If you have used a rub on your food, and we recommend that you do, you should only start applying the mop after the food has cooked for half of the projected cooking time. This will allow the rub to form a crust on the meat before you apply the mop. Your mop is likely to take on a different favour each time you mop, as the mop applicator itself is coming into contact with the favours of the food and any rub or seasonings that have been applied. Mop small items every 30 minutes, and big items every 45 minutes.


Mop Tips




Barbecue Sauces


Sauces are a subject of contention. Some say that sauces define the nature of barbecue, and that if you don’t serve a barbecue sauce on your food it is not real barbecue. Others contend that if your food needs a sauce, it doesn’t deserve to be called barbecue. One thing for sure is that all the people who agree that sauce is good, have not been able to agree whose sauce is best. Which is why there are so many different types of barbecue sauce out there.

The earliest recorded recipe for barbecue sauce comes from the late 1700's around revolutionary war times. It was a simple sauce - vinegar. Actually, it is not so much a sauce but rather a "dip" in which roasted pork was dipped. Later, the sauce developed by adding water, a pinch of sugar, and red peppers to the basic core ingredient of vinegar. This is a "tidewater" barbecue sauce and still can be found along the eastern Carolina shores. As you move inland tomatoes and other spices were added to the vinegar sauce. As barbecue sauce moved west, it changed. Crossing the Great Smoky Mountains into Tennessee and Kentucky the sauce became sweeter, and with less vinegar. As the journey west continued, tomatoes, whether as whole, sauce, or ketchup, became the main ingredient, replacing vinegar. When BBQ sauce came to Texas, tomatoes were still the primary ingredient, but now hot peppers - habaneros, jalapenos, Chili powder, etc. became an important ingredient. Barbecue also changed from being only pork, to beef as well, and sauce became an integral component of barbecue. Finally, as BBQ sauce kept on it's journey west, new ingredients were added, including pureed mangoes, apple sauce, soy sauce, and exotic spices.


As barbecue continues in popularity across the United States and the world, BBQ sauce is becoming an important component of barbecue. In almost every barbecue competition you can find a category for barbecue sauce.

Barbecue sauce can be used as a condiment, a dipping sauce, and a glaze, or all of the above. It should be used to complement, but not overpower the favour of your barbecue. In some cases, it is used to give overcooked and dried-out barbecue some moisture.

Primary bases used for American barbecue sauces are tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar.

When you are ready to create your own sauce, look for a balance of sweet, sour and spicy favours, in that order.





Maple Syrup
Cane Syrup
Hoisin Sauce
Soda Pop

Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Tamarind Concentrate
Worcestershire sauce

Chili Powder / Chilies
Curry powder



Sauces by Region



Kansas City

Thick – Tomato based, sweet, and spicy with some heat


Thin - Tomato based, molasses and Worcestershire sauce

Central S. Carolina

Thin - Mustard and vinegar

Western N. Carolina

Thin - Tomato based, ketchup, vinegar and sugar (sweet and sour)

Eastern N. Carolina

Thin - Vinegar based, sugar, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper

South S. Carolina / Georgia

Thin - Mustard based, tomato and vinegar


Black sauce made from Worcestershire sauce and vinegar


Tomato based, lemon, lime, vinegar and butter


Barbecue Sauce Tips




Brining or salting is a way of increasing the moisture holding capacity of meat resulting in a moister product when it is cooked. Through water retention, brining allows a longer time for collagen to be broken down without drying the meat out. This water retention also lubricants the individual fibres of the meat.

All meats are made up of muscle tissue. This muscle tissue contains bundles of long proteins. Proteins are basically coiled or wadded up molecular structures which are bonded together. When meat is cooked, these bonds break down, and the protein bundles begin to straighten out. This process is called denaturing. At this point the protein bundles are able to bond together with other unwound molecules. This process is called coagulation.

When cooking meat to a temperature of below 120 F, the protein bundles will shrink in size and moisture loss will be minimal. Once you go above this temperature the moisture loss will start to increase significantly. This first 'sweat' is from the water stored between the individual cells being released.  Once you go above a temperature of 140 F there will be a second 'sweat' and further loss of moisture as a result of the individual cells actually breaking down.

A brine is basically a salt solution into which you place your desired meat. Although most meats contain high concentrations of sodium (salt), the salt and the water of the brine is able to pass through the cell walls of the meat and the salt will move into areas of lower concentration. As the salt does this, water must move out of these areas of lower concentration.

One would think that this is defeating the object of the excersize, but in actual fact it is not. The increased concentration of sodium in the cells actually increases the ability of the proteins to stay bonded together. This means that the normal temperature at which these cells break down (140 F) that causes the second 'sweat' is increased. In addition as a result of brining, meat will typically gain about 20 % in weight which is lost as part of the first sweat. So the brine consitutes the first moisture loss, not the actual juices of the meat.

Brining is  regarded by many BBQ'ers as mandatory for all forms of poultry. It is also widely used when smoking various forms of meat and seafood such as smoked salmon, pork chops, ham, bacon, corned beef and pastrami. It is not recommended for use with traditional barbecue cuts such as brisket, ribs and pork shoulders, as it will make them all taste like ham !


Recipe for a Basic Poultry Brine

Mix the ingredients above together making sure that all the salt is well dissolved into the water.
Cover your poultry completely with brine and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove from brine and rinse with fresh water inside and out.  Smoke at 275 F to an internal temp of 170 basting with butter every few hours to give you the golden brown skin.


Brining Times for Different Foods


Brine Time


30 minutes

Whole Chicken (4 pounds)

8 to 12 hours

Chicken Parts

1 1/2 hours

Chicken Breasts

1 hour

Cornish Game Hens

2 hours

Whole Turkey

24 hours

Pork Chops

12 to 24 hours

Whole Pork Loins

2 to 4 days


Brining Tips