BBQ BATTLE ROYALE: Dry Rub vs. Marinade vs. BBQ Sauce

dry rub vs marinade vs bbq sauceWhether you are dining on meat or vegetables, there are countless ways to season them– especially if they are headed for the grill! Since cooking over open flame is volatile, it is important to seal in flavours as thoroughly as possible. With that in mind, world famous chefs and pitmasters have settled on three methods of preparation: dry rubs, marinades and barbecue sauces. You may know some of the differences, but do you know how each should be used? Read on for D’Arcy’s BBQ Battle Royale and settle the score once and for all!

DRY RUB

The term “dry rub” is simply an umbrella that covers an infinite number of spice blends. These mixtures contain no liquid (“dry”) and they are worked into the raw ingredients by hand (“rub”). The hands-on approach means every crevice is coated with your chosen flavours; keeping the seasoning dry means less liquids will drip onto your cooking surface. An intense first-bite and blackened crust are some of the biggest attractions of meat or veg cooked with a dry rub.

MARINADE

Originally from the Spanish mar for sea, the term “marinade” was introduced into French cuisine at the start of the 18th-century– it meant to be pickled in a salty brine. Since then, marinade has evolved into a modern home cooking term to describe any seasoning (containing at least one liquid ingredient) used to infuse flavours into meat or vegetables. The key behind using a marinade is including a vinegar or another fluid with a chemical property that breaks down and softens food. A well-made marinade will produce fork-tender results while imparting a rich flavour and depth to the dish.

BBQ SAUCE

For many of us, the first time we encountered barbecue sauce may have been as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers… But of course, BBQ sauce is best used: on the barbecue! While suitable for a marinade, BBQ sauce typically has high sugar content– so it can burn easily if left over an open flame for an extended period. Ideally, you should apply your chosen BBQ sauce right at the end of high-temperature grilling. Alternatively, you may use BBQ sauce as a basting liquid if you are cooking for an extended period over a long temperature. Another tip is to boil down or reduce BBQ sauce to create a glaze!

AND THE WINNER IS…

…Your tastebuds! All of these methods are delicious on their own, but they can even be combined for mouthwatering results. The only limits is your imagination and the Laws of Thermodynamics– any questions and concerns can be answered by the experts at D’Arcy’s Meat Market. Contact or visit us today!

What Types of Meat Can I Cook on a Smoker?

what types of meat can you cook in a smokerFor a long time, a backyard smoker was viewed purely as a luxury item for the obsessed gourmand or the bored retiree. Thanks to heightened public awareness of smoking food, everyone and their neighbour fancies themselves as a down-home, slow-cooking pit boss! Access to both high- and low-end smokers has increased, as well as a desire to cook with fresh, locally sourced meat, seafood and produce. If you want to know what is best to cook on a smoker, read D’Arcy’s short guide below and visit or contact us with your questions today!

PORK.

Pork is undeniably the most popular meat when it comes to cooking with smoke. Smokers are often said to be the only way to get truly tender yet flavourful pork ribs, commonly referred to as “falling off the bone.” The fat content and marbling of a pork shoulder makes it both an affordable and ideal cut perfect pulled pork on the smoker. Also, home smokers can make their own woodchip blend and customize a signature bacon that will beat anything from the supermarket.

POULTRY.

Chicken, turkey, duck, game hens– almost any poultry or fowl can be done to juicy perfection in a smoker. With leaner or smaller birds, smoke them whole and watch their temperatures closely so they do not dry out. Fattier and larger birds can be halved or even quartered with more confidence, as they will retain juiciness when cooked long over low temperatures.

BEEF.

If your smoking beef: brisket is king! There are few cuts of any smoked meat that are as prized as a perfectly-done beef brisket. Originating from the chest of the cow, brisket meat is tough and nearly inedible unless cooked at minimal temperatures over as long a period as possible. This is why you do not brisket served any other way than smoked or braised. After your cookout, sliced brisket is the key ingredient in the ever-popular Montreal smoked meat sandwich.

SAUSAGE & SEAFOOD.

While seemingly different, sausages and seafood options are a great choice to cook together on a home smoker, especially as an appetizer course. Sausages are usually pre-cooked and only need a short time to be brought up to temperature– plus they are available in a wide range of local meat sources and bold flavours (even custom blends). Similarly, most seafood only needs a few minutes on a cooker to achieve proper doneness– oysters, shrimp and salmon are all popular choices.

FRUIT, VEGETABLES & MORE.

A cookout with a smoker often features one or more meats as the main dish, sometimes with even more meat as an accompaniment. Take a cue from professional barbecue restaurants and add some plant-based sides to the menu, but don’t be afraid to try smoking your favourite vegetables and fruit– pineapples, peaches, tomatoes and potatoes are good options. Additionally, many people enjoy smoked cheeses, olives, nuts and even hard boiled eggs!

The above article is only scratching the surface of the diverse and delicious world of cooking with smoke. For a full rundown of all our smoking favourites, contact or visit D’Arcy’s Meat Market today! Our friendly staff can offer advice, whether you are a smoker newbie or a down-home, slow-cooking pit boss!

How To Use a Smoker

how-to-use-a-smokerThere are many regions in North America that dub themselves “barbecue country,” but we here in Alberta enjoy a diverse mosaic of open-flame cooking styles and seasonings. From a charcoal hibachi to a propane grill with all the bells and whistles; from egg-shaped kegs to professional rigs that need to be towed behind a truck– barbecue can be done on any platform. And not just any barbecue, you can achieve the highly sought after technique of indirect cooking with smoke. If you are investing in smoking tools, read our introduction below and bring any questions to the pros here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market today!

SEASONING

You can smoke almost anything, but smokers are most popular for dishes with fat that must be rendered slowly and steadily. Thanks to this, the chef is free to make a bold seasoning– most often as a rub or marinade. Sauce should also be basted regularly throughout the smoking process to achieve the stickiest, tenderest results. Each of these steps is essential to imbue the flavours you want to bring out in the final dish.

TEMPERATURE

Your smoker will likely have an ambient thermometer, but to get the best results: it is wise to invest in an instant-read probe that can be reinserted at regular intervals. Both meters should be monitored closely and kept a steady, low threshold– peaks and valleys means you are risking burnt or raw spots. Inevitably there will be cold and hot spots however you cook, so always rotate your food throughout the process.

FUEL & WOOD CHIPS

The cooking method you choose will dictate what type of fuel you need to invest in beforehand. Lump charcoal, briquettes, wood and even propane can be adapted to create indirect heat necessary for smoking (whatever you need, make sure you have extra). Wood chips are the next thing to consider when smoking a dish– they add flavour and moisture inherent to their variety. Apple, hickory, cherry… There is almost no end to the available choices!

TIME

Our most valuable tip for smoking? Give yourself plenty of time and be patient! Most go by the rule of thumb “long and low,” referring to an extended cooking time exposed to low heat. This process can take hours for your food to achieve ideal ‘doneness’ and the earlier you start– the better!

The above tips are only a summary of the many important details of barbecuing to perfection. Ask our friendly staff for their favourites and many other helpful recommendations.

Our Favourite BBQ Sauce Recipe (And When to Use it!)

bbq sauce recipe

Creating a homemade BBQ sauce is the perfect way to finish off your next set of ribs and impress your family and friends. Don’t worry – it doesn’t take a master chef to be able to put this recipe together! Read on as we share one of our favourite BBQ sauce recipes, as well as some tips on when and how to use it.

The Recipe

 

Ingredients

1 ½ cups yellow onion (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup dijon mustard (smooth works best)
½ cup soy sauce
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder (spice level to taste)
1 tablespoon cumin (ground)
Red pepper flakes (to taste)

Cooking Instructions

In a large saucepan, cook the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil for 10-15 minutes on low heat. We want the onions to become translucent and soft, but not browned. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer uncovered, and stir occasionally for 30 minutes. Note: You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 30 days.

Recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen.

BBQ Sauce Tips & Tricks

Now that you’ve got the sauce made, let’s learn how to use it! Next time you’re grilling up some ribs, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Apply sauce after the meat is cooked. The last thing you want is your tasyety sauce to get gummy or burnt, so apply the sauce after you’re finished cooking, or at the tail end of your cook (more on that in tip #2).
2. Crisp and caramelize your sauce. The idea here is to throw your sauced up ribs back on direct, high heat (above 320F) for about 10 minutes to caramelize the sugars. Be warned – this is a super easy way to overcook your meat, so if you want to try this method, shorten your cooking time by about 30 minutes to avoid drying out your meat.
3. Don’t overdo the sauce. It’s important to resist the urge to smother your meat in sauce. Don’t forget the meat is the main attraction, the sauce is only made to add to the experience. Stick to one coat of sauce, two max! Also remember to save some to serve on the side for dipping.

Stop by D’Arcy’s Meat Market today to stock up on meat for your next summer BBQ!

READY, SET… GRILL! 5 BBQ Maintenance Tips

bbq-advice-edmontonHere in Alberta, grilling season can last all year round– but no downtime doesn’t mean you can’t keep your BBQ in tip-top shape. In fact, regular use can actually help your grill maintain its effectiveness and durability. Are you curious about how to best handle your grilling equipment? Consult the pros here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market and our guide below for the top tips we’ve discovered over our decades of experience.

1. KEEP IT CLEAN

Whether you are cleaning off last night’s morsels or a winter’s worth of dust and debris, it pays to keep your grill neat and tidy. To clean your BBQ properly, first turn the heat up to high and allow it to come to temperature. Once it’s hot enough, scrape and scour the grill with a wire brush, steel pad or even balled up tinfoil held with tongs.

2. ‘TIS THE SEASON

While a clean grill is important, it is even more crucial not to remove the seasoning from your BBQ’s grate. What you may perceive as a dirty, black crust is actually a safe, microscopic layer that stops food from sticking and can even prevent rust. When scraping your grill, ensure you don’t press so hard to reveal shiny metal. Apply a neutral cooking oil with a paper towel once reasonably clean to maintain a seasoned finish.

3. SAFETY FIRST

Modern BBQs are practically maintenance free and they are so reliable we may even forget that they can present safety hazards if left unchecked. Before each use, check that all connections are secure– especially between the propane tank and your grill’s regulator. Ensure all hoses are free of cracks and that, when lit, flames flow smoothly out of each gas jet. If you use charcoal, always dispose of your coals safely in an ash can or else you risk starting a dangerous fire.

4. COVER UP

It may seem like an unnecessary investment for those with covered patios or room to store their grills indoors, but a proper BBQ cover can add years to your grill’s life. Not only does a well-fitted cover protect against dirt, dust and debris– it also can keep unwanted pests from infesting or damaging your equipment. If your grill is exposed to the elements, a weighted, lined cover offers a significant form of rust prevention.

5. THE RIGHT TOOLS

If you want both your grill and your BBQ utensils to last as long as possible, it is essential to use the right tools for the job. Long-handled tongs, a sturdy spatula, a flexible flipper and a quality grill brush or scouring pad are the first four things to keep close at hand. Using improper tools can damage the utensils themselves and cheap, low quality products can do more harm than good.

As you can see above, there are many strategies and solutions to allow your grill, its accessories and the food you prepare to live up to its full potential. Don’t risk a disappointment– follow our tips and bring any questions or concerns to the experts here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market today!