13 Mar Rub VS. Marinade VS. Sauce
A true pit master not only knows how to cook the meat, but they also know how to prepare the meat. When prepping the meat a rub, a marinade, or a sauce is used. Don’t quite know the difference between those three? Read on.
One thing to keep in mind, before we continue, is it doesn’t matter how good the rub, marinade, or sauce is if the cut of meat isn’t any good. So make sure to start out with a high quality piece of meat. You need a good base to create a [pit] masterpiece.
The word marinade is a Spanish word that means “pickle in brine.” A marinade is liquid in consistency and is strongly flavored. Food, and in this case, meat, is soaked in the liquid until it takes on the flavor. This happens prior to cooking as well as basting throughout the cooking process. BBQ pros suggest marinading your meat for 4-8 hours. It is also suggested to use a bowl large enough to cover the meat entirely or \ to flip the meat halfway through the marinading time. Not only is marinading used to enhance flavors, but it is also used to help break down fibers in the meat resulting in a tenderer, juicier bite. A couple things to keep in mind when barbecuing with a marinade, there’s typically plenty of sugar in a marinade and the marinade itself can burn (not necessarily the meat). If you stick to the low and slow method, you’ll likely avoid any charred surfaces.
A rub is a mixture of herbs and/or spices applied to food to add flavor. Dry rubs are typically made up of spices whereas a wet rub consists of moist ingredients to form a paste. Both are applied to the outer surface of the meat about a day or so prior to barbecuing. If you don’t have a whole day for your rub to sit, that’s okay. It’ll still taste good even if the rub is applied for a few hours. Rubs typically lack in sugar so the likeliness of burning or charring is lessened. Depending on how much rub is applied, you might end up with crusty outer layer. Not only does this play a part in the flavor, but it also protects the meat from drying out.
Sauce is a French word that means a garnish to make food more appetizing. Sauces are liquid and are added to make food smell, look, and, most importantly, taste better. The majority of BBQ sauce is typically added to the meat once the meat is cooked and off the heat. Many pit masters, however, begin to apply small amounts of sauce when the meat is almost done, therefore, still on the heat source. This can help the meat from drying out. Like marinades, sauces have lots of sugars that can burn easily. Be cautious when adding sauce to avoid burned meat. Unlike marinades, you don’t need to wait for the flavors to be infused. There’s no overnight soaking. You can get right into adding the flavor.