The best way to get in touch with our inner primal emotions is with a STOUT helping of smoked protein.
I am not talking about a grilled burger and toasted bun here. I am talking about brisket, sausage, chicken, ribs AND an ice cold beer. Yeah, that's more like it. A barbecue platter seasoned, smoked, and curated over fire by your own hands.
HOWEVER, smoking something like THIS (see above) can take time. Anywhere from one hour to TWENTY FOUR HOURS....and that doesn't include the prep work for it either! So, I am going to raise a question that seems to defy everything I have really planned my life around, is it REALLY worth the effort and time to smoke meat at home?
Simple answer, YES! Smoking your proteins at home is WAY more efficient than plain old grilling. It absorbs more smoke flavor due to the extended period of time over the coals. Smoking at home can also result in the protein being more tender as the fat has more time to render and the protein begins to break down.
Smoking proteins at home can NOT ONLY boast an excellent flavor, but the woft of smoked meat aroma can fill the air in itself. Perhaps, you are looking for more. Something to elevate your dish. One way to do this, is to sauce the smoked protein you are cooking. HOWEVER, you should exercise caution here when you decide to sauce the protein. One SMALL misstep can ruin an entire meal.
Why Should I Exercise Caution When Saucing Meat?
I am so glad you hypothetically asked! Too much of a good thing can quickly turn unpleasant. This rule has multiple applications to life AND to saucing your smoked protein. The goal os saucing smoked proteins is simple, to supplement the meat. NOT to change the taste entirely. So the right amount of application IS vital!
Different cuts of meat will require different amounts of sauce. You want to make sure you have a light hand when applying sauce to your protein. Generally speaking, for example, you would want to use 3/4 cup of sauce for ribs (or one to two coats per rack), while other proteins such as pork shoulder may require several tablespoons per serving. And lets be real for a second, sauce can change the flavor (especially sweet sauces) very easily; and weren't we smoking the meat for the unique, smoky flavor in the first place?
Play The Waiting Game...But Not Too Long.
Using too much sauce isn't the only mistake you can make. Knowing WHEN to sauce can also make or break your dish. According to World Champion Melissa Cookston, sauce application to only be applied in the final stages of the cook. "It should be an accompaniment- never cooked on the meat," Cookston states.
So if burnt sauce and up to a day of your time and energy wasted is a possibility when saucing smoked meat while it cooks, why not just wait till it's totally done and off the heat to add that final flavorful ingredient? Applying sauce to the smoked protein in the final stages helps the condiment stick to the meat and allows the sugars to caramelize. This adds a deeper flavor to the dish that WOULDN'T be achieved if applied too early or after the cook is done.
So that is the cautionary tale of saucing smoked proteins. Make sure to wait until the final stages of the cook. Of course, you COULD wait until the cook is done, but the final outcome won't be as delicious as smoked meat that has the sauce perfectly baked in and caramelized after being smoked for a short time.
Until next time, make sure you eat well, do well, and serve good food!