Friday, November 2, 2018

What Does Barbecue Sauce Actually Do? And why should You use it or even care?

BBQ Sauce recipe
BBQ Sauce Recipe

I was working on one of my recipes the other day when a customer asked me a couple of unique questions related to barbecue sauce.  They've been buying the product for a number of years but never really questioned why our BBQ sauce or any other company's barbecue sauce was considered the perfect accompaniment or main driver for their barbecue ribs or barbecue chicken.  So they thought they would ask the seemingly somewhat innocent question "What does barbecue sauce actually do?  And why should we use it or even care?

Well, you can imagine my surprise especially from a customer that had been buying our bbq sauce for about three years now.  After the interaction, I thought I wonder how many other people have the same or similar questions?  And do they actually know what they're buying or are their purchases related to word of mouth or simple focuses on taste?  I thought I would delve deeper than the normal surface level review so this post is set out to specifically answer the question on barbecue sauce and the myriad reasons for using it.

First, let's start with some common terms for barbecue sauce.  I think many people are aware of where the term barbecue is derived.  If not, the terms go like this, to roast or broil on a rack or revolving spit over or before a source of heat (such as hot coals).  Further, a large animal (such as a steer) roasted whole or split over an open fire or a fire in a pit.  Barbecue at its origins is derived from the word "Barbacoa" in which "Barbecue" is the English word adaptation.  Further, Barbacoa is from the Taino Native American tribe of the Caribbean and Florida regions which employed the methods of open pit roasting worked to completely cook meats for a sustained period of time.

When we employ the derived term "Barbecue" and combine that with the evolution of the process over many years it was determined by trial or by the process that certain liquids could extend the shelf life of aging meats all while improving the actual flavor of the meats.  Without the advent of salt and pepper of meats, the end result would be pretty boring.

The first uses of barbecue sauce appeared in the early 17th century by English and French settlers through the application of mustard sauces to enhance the flavors of their meats.  True commercialization of BBQ sauce did not take place until sometime near or not long after the creation of ketchup around 1909.

But what does barbecue sauce actually do?  Barbecue sauce through its combination of mixed ingredients acts in many cases to improve the quality of meats.  The barbecue sauce was never meant to take over the taste of meat just ask the person that spends 12 plus hours making a brisket with just a hint of smoke.  The last thing someone who has slaved over so long wants to see is their efforts quenched by a nondescript barbecue sauce.  But don't let that get in the way of your path to discovery.  BBQ Sauce depending on the ingredient listing will actually act as a marinade prior to the grilling or slow cooking process.  So, for those who hold great negative opinions about the sauce must consider its actual value in that all meats are not created equal and certainly not butter soft after grilling.

Should you use barbecue sauce?  I say, why not, especially if you feel that the meat you've chosen is not as superior as you'd like it to be.  But if you've had the chance to get your lips around some really superior seasoned and grill meats then skip the added dressing and focus on the results of the grill masters effort.

BBQ Sauce on pork
BBQ Sauce on Grilled Pork

Being in the business of BBQ rubs and sauces I've had many people approach me on the concern over calorie counts.  Mostly I believe that people issue the negative comment about a product when they instinctively either don't understand it or effectively don't want it but have a little internal drive to say no when approached in some store demo.  By all means, if you'd rather not have something just say no, don't focus on the negatives when approached.  But for those that are concerned about calorie counts, I offer the following.

A reasonably good barbecue sauce will either use brown sugar or white sugar or honey or some form of Stevia as a primary sugary component.  There are a number of sauces that use corn syrup and the all too familiar hydrogenated corn syrup which in reality are actually the same thing since the Federal Government allows manufacturers the ability to split the quantity of corn syrup used into categories.  To the unlearned, this just appears as two separate products.  But to those in the know, it's a statement calling out loud and clear as to how much of the corn syrup is actually used.  In these cases, a reasonable calorie limit of 60 or 80 can go as high as 240 or 300 calories depending on the actual serving size.  And serving sizes are quoted in grams or tablespoons the average person is all the more confused as to the actual amount contained in the purchase size.

The truth of the actual matter is that the general public may on the off chance attend a barbecue 2 to 4 times over the course of an average summer.  And if you're fortunate you may choose to barbecue between 3 and 5 times over the course of the entire year.  We, unfortunately, do not consider how many times barbecue sauce is consumed in such small quantities as to be of no real concern where combined amounts of sauce are discussed.  I often tell my customers to focus on the event and the time spent with friends and relatives over the considerations of how much sugar or calories are contained in a BBQ sauce.  Of course, if you have a sensitivity to certain levels of sugar or salts then it would be wise to reconsider any use of the product at all.

Further on what a barbecue sauce actually does when used as a tenderizer.  The amount of time necessary to engage its tenderizing effects is strictly related to the number of ingredients contained in the formulation that yields an ability to marinate.  Specifically, things like mango, vinegar, oils, certain herbs, fruits such as berries these things all have marinating properties.  When placed in contact with meats their enzymes act to break down the fibers and tissues of the meat.  Minimum periods of time such as 30 minutes should be employed.

Take for example the marinating of seafood using citrus as the marinade.  The conversion from sushi to marinated fish takes only a short period of time.  And since barbecue sauce may use these ingredients in concert with sugars, salts and spices they may take much longer to perform the desired marinating effect.  We tell our customers to expect a minimum of 1 to 2 hours of marinating before the grilling process should start.  We also know that a customer can marinate a meat overnight for at least 12 to 14 hours without completely breaking down the fibers and tissues of the meat which would ultimately leave the meat in a somewhat soggy state.

What is the best type of barbecue sauce?  The best type of BBQ sauce is driven by the application, the preference or taste profile determines the experience that you want to impart to the meat and the audience to which the end result will be shared.  In certain parts of the United States the audience experiences mustard sauces, while others experience brown sugar and vinegar, and in some other parts of the country, it's considered a blatant sin to even think about the use of barbecue sauce on smoked meats.  Similarly, in Memphis, Tennessee you practically have an entire state split over whether or not barbecued meats should be finished "wet" or "dry".

For those who consider their purchase of a barbecue sauce, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the shelf life.  Overall the Federal Government casts some guidelines for shelf life but the actual shelf life of a product is primarily determined by the attending states Food and Drug Administration.  Barbecue products that have long shelf lives over two years typically have fewer live ingredients like tomatoes, fruits or herbs.  Those with short shelf lives similarly have an abundance of tomatoes, fruits and in some cases vegetables like carrots or live onions.  Short shelf life sauces can be very good, it's just important to be aware that one can't expect a sauce they bought in April to be around in August depending on the contents and the location in which the product was stored.

Is there really such a thing as Keto or Paleo barbecue sauce?  Moreover, why would you want one?  The trend toward Paleo or Keto focused foods has been heating up for years now.  All driven by the greater desire to have what we like to call "having your cake and eating it too" but just with fewer calories or carbohydrates.  A "Keto" or Ketonic diet is a very low-carb diet, which is classified as turning the body into a fat-burning system as more and more carbohydrates are removed.  Alternatively, a "Paleo" or Paleogenic is rich in nuts, fruits and vegetables and focuses on the elimination of grains and legumes "beans" from the diet.  The end result of each of these as related to barbecue sauce is the focus on a product that will act in concert with the specific diet plan.  We feature a barbecue sauce that is gluten-free and legume and wheat free.  This would be considered a key product option for those who are focused on both a Keto and Paleo Centric diet.

home made bbq sauce in glass container
BBQ Sauce Home Made

If your desire is to consider a full-flavored sauce especially in the case of making or using a barbecue sauce for ribs or a BBQ sauce for chicken then one may need to shy away from products that minimize the number of sugars and carbohydrates or limit the amount of fruit-based elements.

In summary and recommendation, Barbecue Sauce actually performs the act of flavoring foods and enhancing foods.  In pre-barbecue cases, BBQ Sauce will act to marinate foods over a minimum period of time in which tissues and fibers are broken down to soften meats.  Key barbecue sauce recipes are primarily determined by region along with specific barbecue types such as ribs, chicken, brisket or other types of meats.

And although some consider barbecue sauce to carry a certain level of calories we believe it's best to focus on the desired end result of the barbecue as opposed to the specific level of sugars or salts.  Keep in mind the average number of times you might consume a product over the course of a year then divide that actual amount over the meal and we believe you will find that total amount to be very small so as to make the consideration actually insignificant.

And with that said, our best selection of barbecue sauces is available on our website along with some excellent products each focused on the marination aspects of barbecue as well as the health and wellness benefits of the sauces.  There are gluten-free products as well as Monosodium Glutamate free products.  A short list of our best products are:

Really Good Mild Barbecue Sauce

Really Nice Medium Hot Barbecue Sauce

Really Hot Barbecue Sauce

Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Memphis Blues Barbecue Sauce

Texas Style Inspired Barbecue Sauce

These sauces along with our dry spice seasonings combine to produce some astonishing results.

We hope you've found this post informational and useful as you continue on the path to perfect barbecue nirvana.

In addition to the links above we are including our video on making barbecue sauces.  See below:

Happy barbecuing.


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dry Rub for Ribs Recipe

Dry rub for ribs mix and recipe
Dry Rub for Ribs

What can be better than the aromas of fine barbecued meats sending up wafting smoke to tickle the noses of some of the most discerning palates. Rich, natural flavors all combined to make your particular brand of barbecue the best it could possibly be. We like to say that ribs taste good thinking that the meat itself is the primary actor in this chorus of taste. But in fact the meat is actually the carrier of some of the finest seasonings available to man. Believing and saying that meats taste good is driven directly through the barbecue, and grilling or smoking process. A Dry Rub is defined by Webster as "a mixture of herbs and spices and similar dry ingredients that are rubbed onto the surface of food (most often meat) to add flavor. The dry rub also creates a crust on the surface of food that is grilled or broiled." So, this belief that meats taste good is subject to the combinations that employed in the actual makeup of the dry rub itself. And where a dry rub for ribs is concerned it's the combination of juices, liquids, sinews, powders, granules and spices all combined to deliver one specific taste at one specific point in time.

Taste is somewhat subjective since each of us has a different level of sensation especially where our palates are concerned. But what we know is that each of us technically can discern the difference between sugar, salts, spices, and herbs. And so when we say that a dry rub is "good". What we are in fact complimenting is the expression of those salts or peppers on our palate.

The most basic of dry rub for ribs is the use of salt and pepper. The dictionary defines salt as a savory component that is a white crystalline substance that gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food. Whereas pepper is defined as being pungent, hot-tasting powder or granules prepared from dried and ground peppercorns, commonly used also to spice food or is reserved as a condiment for the purposes of adding flavor. Each of these elements serves their individual needs however, when added to foods they present themselves and additionally heighten the flavors of that item they are added to.

In the case of dry rubs we focus on the big four, salts and peppers that are combined with additional sugary, and spice laden elements to create flavor as the dry rub is tasted on the palate.

Rib Rubs takes advantage of the very nature of spices, salts and peppers each of these elements presenting them in balance drawing out the natural flavor of the meat. Similar to a musical composition flavors come into focus at key moments during the orchestral equivalent of the chorus of smoke, heat, time, meat makeup and personal desire formulated as degree of hunger.

A rib rub is much like wine with its complexities in that the dry rubs first notes can be determined on the palate first with its individual saltiness, followed by an herb note and complimented with sugars either white or brown and finally a pepper laden note. A good dry rub takes advantage of the science afforded it and seeks to draw out the best flavors of the meat it is presented on. But dry rubs for ribs alone are not enough to improve the flavor of the meat. First one must start with a reasonable cut that is properly trimmed and prepared.

When it comes to smoking meats and the use of dry rubs we look to combinations of salts sugars, peppers and herbs to drive home their place in the symposium. The critical elements are ensuring that the dry rub doesn't conflict with the desired end result of the seasoning blend. A dry rub that is heavily laden in sugar might not be the right fit for wood smoke that is strong in ash or black walnut. The fact that the wood may impart a bitter taste to the food is enough to reconsider the type of wood used. Better woods for sugary laden dry rubs might be cherry or apricot that adds a mild almost hickory note that goes well with poultry and pork.

Dry rubs that are laden in salts and herbs may well benefit from smoking woods like Apple, Almond and Citrus varieties. One wood type that gets very little air time is Grapevine. I've used grapevines a number of times and the smoke that is derived from the bark is almost sweet in flavor aromatic with hints of sweet grapes. A truly awesome wonder wood type for smoking.

But back to our primary topic: What makes a Dry Rub good or great for smoking? The end result is the trigger for finding the right type of wood. Whether you're focus is to smoke steaks, ribs or chops each has its own brand or type of wood that favors smoking. For Steaks it's important to impart an almost earthiness to the meat much like that which is delivered when using Hickory or Red Oak. For ribs one wants to truly taste the pork goodness and only woods like Almond, Peach, Plum, Apple and Red Oak deliver that rich smokiness that matches the sugars, salts, herbs and spices of the dry rub.

dry rub recipes
Dry Rub Styles

When properly paired with wood smoke a dry rub ribs can impart a sense of luxury and extravagance to the meat. We've paired our best dry rubs with some key wood types to help you in your decision making. See our listing below as a guide. In addition we've added some of our best dry rub for ribs recipes. These recipes are easy to make and make use of ingredients that every household has on hand. But let's look at our stock of dry rubs for ribs when combined with key smoking woods that will make your barbecue exceptional.

Santa Barbara Rub (Alder, Apricot, Grapevine, Mesquite, Orange, Pecan)

San Ysidro Rub (Red Oak, Almond, Peach, Grapevine, Mesquite, Pecan, Pear)

Santa Maria Dry Rub (Almond, Peach, Red Oak, Mesquite, Hickory, Lemon)

Memphis Blues Dry Rub (Almond, Peach, Grapevine, Hickory, Cherry, Maple, Grapefruit)

California Chipotle Dry Rub (Peach, Plum, Cherry, Apple, Grapevine, Red Oak, Almond)

California Chicken Dry Rub (Almond, Red Oak, Mesquite, Cherry, Apple, Grapevine, Maple, Mulberry)

Dry Rub for Ribs Recipes:

Homemade Cajun Rib Rub Recipe
  • 8 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne
  • 6 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons garlic ground
  • 3 tablespoons onion ground
  • 6 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 4 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons dried thyme

Santa Maria Basic Rib Rub
  • 3 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Coarse Ground Black Pepper

Brown Sugar Sweet and Spicy Rib Rub
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Santa Maria Rib Rub Brown Sugar Recipe
  • 3 Tablespoons Granulated Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Coarse Ground Black Pepper

Ranch Style Rib Rub Recipe
  • 4 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Orange Peel
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Smoky Rib Rub Recipe
  • 1/4 Cup Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Smoked Hickory Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Granulated Garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin

Chicago Style Rib Rub Recipe
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

Coriander Tarragon Rib Rub
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander pepper
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric

Greek Style Ribs
  • 3 Lbs of Baby Back Ribs "uncooked"
  • 5 Garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Rind
  • 1/2 Cup Onion
  • 4 Tablespoons Oregano "fresh"
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper - Coarse Ground

Merlot Dry Rub Ribs
  • 8T Light brown sugar
  • 3T Salt
  • 2 T Jake's Tri-Tip Steak and Rib Rub Seasoning
  • 1/2t Ground black pepper
  • 1/2t Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2t Jalapeno seasoning
  • 1/2t Old Bay Seafood seasoning
  • 1/2t Rubbed thyme
  • 2t Onion powder

Rosie's Rib Rub Recipe
  • 4-5 cans of Beer (regular not light beer)
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sea Salt (table salt can be used if Sea Salt is not available)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 Pot large enough to cover the ribs with water
  • 6 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • ½ Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper

Sesame Rib Rub Recipe
  • 1 Rack of Baby Back Ribs
  • 1 Tbs Garlic Salt
  • 1 Tbs Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tbs Soy Sauce (Light or Regular)
  • 2 Tbs Sugar
  • 2 Tbs Chile Oil
  • 1 Tbs Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Cup of Jake's Original BBQ Sauce

Each of these dry rubs are designed to impart just the right amount of flavor at just the right time. But the real test is in the results you will receive.

recipe mix for dry rub
Dry Rub recipe mix

Last but not least is the mental imagery that one receives when you try out your very favorite dry rub for ribs. I often tell people that barbecue is about memory and a form of that muscle memory for the palate and the brain. Most people will gravitate to experiences they had when they were young children especially where barbecue is concerned. Each of us is trying to bring back our most favorite experience and that absolutely awesome, burger, steak, ribs, chops or whatever that item might be. We at Jake's Famous understand that mental focus and our products are designed with that key element in mind. We are constantly working to get your mind and thoughts back to happier experiences be it without Famous barbecue sauces, our amazing dry rubs or our award winning condiments.

The real key to what makes a dry rub for ribs good or great is the memory it holds for the user. We believe that you will enjoy making memories with each and every one of our products.


Jake's Famous Foods

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Lock, Stock and One Smoking Barrel......

55 gallon smoker drum
Jake's Ugly Drum Smoker
Whether it's warming up with the blooming of flowers, the tweeting of birds and the obvious hints of sunny days ahead or it's rain and snow with cooler days in the forecast, it's always a good time to barbecue.  And as predictable as these signs are, so are the signs of barbecue season.  But wait, there’s a new old wave that’s coming through the season.  And that wave is the rise of the UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker), or plainly enough smoking in barrels with removable tops.  Now Jake’s relatives have been smoking meats for generations and we’ve been building smokers for the better part of 40 years but recently we decided to make an exceptional Ugly Drum Smoker that we consider to be the "Creme de La Creme" of barrel smokers. While all that’s good and fine what’s been missing for most is the practical uses of these UDS units. 

Many can tell you how to build an ugly Drum Smoker or what to expect and even where to buy the parts but there just seems to be a shortage of easy to use, convenient recipes and instructions for cooking.  So, to get you on your way I’ve included one of our easiest smoking recipes, smoked barbecue ribs.  In this recipe I take you from the front door to the back porch and ultimately to the table with these step by step instructions.  Keep in mind smoking meats is wonderful but takes time and planning.  One should begin the planning process at least a day in advance of the smoking to get things perfect.  When the smoking begins try to dedicate at least 6 hours to the entire process.  While you’re not standing around staring at the barrel for 6 hours, you are in fact monitoring the process for that period of time.  So, let’s get started. 

Smoking Jake’s Famous Barbecue Ribs:
There are many ways to smoke ribs making them succulent, sweet tasty and full with a natural smoky flavor. This method uses a water smoker which not only delivers the richness of smoke but adds additional juiciness to the ribs through the use of water.  The process cleans up nicely and the results are fantastic. Because we are using a UDS we will focus on the use of charcoal and the components necessary to make that work. If you have a smoker with a heat element or gas system you can still achieve the smokiness that you desire. Most of these steps translate directly to your preferred method. 

Preparatory steps:
-Assumptions:  We’re going to assume that you’ll either be smoking the ribs on a Saturday or Sunday.  That would mean that either on Friday or Saturday you’re going to have all the necessary materials at your disposal to ensure that things go well on the DoS (Day of Smoke).  In addition to the UDS we’re going to assume that you have some way of hanging meat in suspension over the charcoal as it’s cooking either by hooks or by some other hanging method.  We’ll also assume that you’re going to be eating your meal on the DoS in the afternoon of either day.


1 UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker)
1 Standard Bag of Regular or Non-Matchlight® Charcoal**
1 Rack of Ribs (at least 13 bones in a standard rack)
1 pan/dish to carry at least 1 Quart of Water
4 Tablespoons of Jake’s Tri-Tip Steak and Rib Rub (Natural Dry Rub)
4 Tablespoons of Standard Yellow Table Mustard
2 Cups of Wood Chips (Hickory, Alder, Cherry whatever you prefer)
1 Roll of Foil Wrap Aluminum
1 Chimney Fire starter

Rib Rubs
Seasoning pork or beef ribs beforehand enhances the flavor when the ribs are finally cooked.  The best Dry Rub Rib mixture will allow the meat to marinate evenly throughout the ribs.  Since Jake’s makes and sells it very own pure, natural seasoning that is rich with flavor and full of battle tested ingredient to improve the quality of your barbecue, our Tri-Tip Steak and Rib Rub is an easy choice for us.  But if you don’t have a dry rub there are a couple of ways we can remedy this.  One, you can simply go to our website  for the best selections of dry rub and generous amounts of bbq recipes.  By going to our site you get access to some amazing products that improve the end results of your process.  Get access to the best products at and order your dry rub using code: 1707200910 at checkout which will give you a 10% discount.  Or you can go to our website at and search for a copy of one of our open source recipes for dry rubs that we have available free for any site visitor.  Just type in “dry rub recipe” in the search box and you’ll be taken to the web page listing the recipes.

Continuing on with dry rubs we've added a video review done by "Bad Beast Barbecue" in which he reviews our Tri-Tip Steak and Rib Rub along with our premium version slightly spicy but savory Chipotle Dry Rub on smoked ribs.  We hope you enjoy.

Before applying the dry rub you’ll need to clean your ribs.  Take the ribs if they’re pork and simply use a paper towel and your fingers to remove as much of the white membrane on the backside of the ribs.  This membrane barrier when removed allows you to deliver more flavors from the dry rub directly to the meat. After cleaning pat the ribs dry with a paper towel to remove any excess water moisture.  Lay down a long piece of aluminum foil enough to wrap the ribs in when completed.  Following the foil lay the ribs on top of the foil.  Coat the rib with the yellow mustard on both sides of the meat.  If you used your hands to coat the meat you must thoroughly clean your hands to prepare for the next step.  Follow the mustard with the dry rub coating both sides thoroughly.  When done coating cover the ribs with the foil wrap.  Seal as much of the ribs as possible with the wrap.  Now, take the ribs and place them in your refrigerator where they will rest overnight.  The combination of dry rub and mustard will help tenderize the meat and make it juicier when cooked. 

Next Day DoS: 
Since you’ll need at least 6 hours of smoke time it’s a good idea to get the grill ready by 9 AM.  We’ll assume that you’ll have all the items and ingredients you need and that you’ll light the fire at 9 AM.  First position your UDS so that you will be upwind from the unit.  Remember it will be smoking most of the day so ensuring that you’re not in the smokes’ cross hairs will run favorably in your direction especially if you have a few sensitive family members or a testy neighbor. 

Remove the charcoal basket from the UDS and fill with Regular Non- Matchlight®  charcoal.  Place the basket back into the UDS and ensure that the vents which provide air to the unit are all the way open. Take a handful of smoke chips and place them onto the charcoal.  Also, take the soaked chips and split them into two piles. Do not discard the water from the chips as we will use this later in the process.  Take each pile and wrap them in aluminum foil.  Tear a hole in the foil to allow smoke to rise from the foil.  Take the packets and place on the outer edges of the charcoal.  Take enough of the charcoal left to fill the Chimney fire starter.  Take a couple of strips of newspaper and ball them up.  After balling or wading them up place them under the starter.  The starter should be placed on a stone or metal surface.  Remember this unit will get hot, ensure that it is not placed anywhere that kids or adults may accidentally come in contact with the unit.  Also, ensure that the unit is not placed in doors when starting or on any surface that might catch fire.

These steps are critical to your health and safety, do not take them lightly.   Once the fire starter is placed take either a match, lighter or barbecue lighter and light the paper underneath the chimney starter.  Within moments you’ll see the smoke from the burning paper rise up through the charcoal.  The intense heat of the flame against the bottom charcoals fed by the open vents of the starter will allow the charcoal to begin burning and will ultimately act to start the fire on the surrounding charcoals. 

**Charcoal: Note, we recommend using non-matchlight® charcoal.  This use will allow the charcoal to burn naturally.  If you use matchlight® or similar then all the charcoal will light as one unit which converts your smoker from a smoker to a grill.  Since we’re attempting to smoke and not grill this would be detrimental to our process.  Now, you can use a few matchlight® briquettes at the bottom of the chimney starter if you’re having trouble getting the fire started.  Beyond, using matchlight® in the chimney starter I would hold it aside for the days in which you intend to grill and not smoke.

Once the Chimney starter is going let it burn for at least 10 minutes.  The objective is to get about half or more the charcoals lighted without having them burn white all the way.  This will help start the fire in the charcoal basket when transferred.  After the charcoals have reached their desired burn level use a heat protective glove or towel around the handle of the chimney to pick the unit up and dump the charcoals onto the charcoal basket.  When dumping the charcoals keep in mind there may be sparks for the charcoal or embers which may float around.  Be aware of the wind,  temperature and the area in which you are transferring the coals so as not to send sparks onto dry grass or brush.  Dump the coals over the center of the charcoal basket.  While the charcoals settle they will come in contact with the existing charcoals which will catch fire and begin to smolder.  As the heat builds you will begin to see smoke rise from the wood chip packets.  

Once the packets are smoking take a metal container or bowl and fill it with the water from the chips that were soaked.  Place the metal container on top of the charcoals directly in the center.  Make sure the container is level and keep in mind as the charcoals burn they will reduce in size causing the dish to change position.  Don’t let the dish shift too much because it may spill causing the water to cover the bottom on the smoker. If the water comes in contact with the smoker it may put your fire out.  A good way to determine something is wrong is by monitoring the temperature gauge.  If there is a dramatic drop in temperature then you know something is wrong and the smoker will need attendance. 

Options for water smoking include wine, juices or even beer. No matter the liquid or liquid combination you choose to smoke with, first soak your wood chips in this liquid. Depending on the flavor you want, you can vary the type of chips used. Alder, Mesquite, hickory and red oak are four of the most popular. Soak the wood chips for no less that 1 hour.  After soaking the chips, use the same liquid which will be poured in the water pan and used for the smoking process.

Once the charcoal is set remove your ribs from their foil and insert the hooks to hang the meat.  Transfer the meat to the smoker and hang.  Place the lid on the unit carefully and monitor the temperature.  A good smoking temperature is 200 degrees.  A great smoking temperature is closer to 225 degrees.  The best way to manage the amount of heat is through the movement of the air vent.  Adjusting the vent either open or close will deliver more or less air to the burning charcoals.  More air equals faster burn and of course less air means slower burn and longer cooking.  If you are cooking pork always be aware of the temperatures necessary to full cook the meat.  The temperature must be high enough to move the meat out of the known danger range to kill bacteria and allow the meat to cook.  If the meat stays in the danger range too long one can get sick or ill.  Having your smoker at 225-250 degrees will ensure that bacteria and illness never become a problem. 

It is a good idea to take at least one additional cup of smoking chips and have them soaked and ready for use.  After every 2 hours you should check on the water in the dish and also the wood chips.  If you need more water carefully pour more into the container without spilling or turning it over.  If you need more chips simply take a small handful and sprinkle them over the burning charcoals.  You may not need more charcoals but if you see them burning awful fast do two things, first, close the vent door to deprive the smoker of air which will slow the burn process, second, prepare more charcoal by filling the chimney starter.  Once the charcoal reaches its desired temperature fill the charcoal basket as necessary.  When filling the basket watch for charcoal dust spray as the charcoals land on the ones beneath.  If you have a large enough access door fill the basket from the access door. 

Monitor the temperature and allow the smoke to perform its magic.  Once the meat is cooked and rested add barbecue sauce after removing the ribs from the smoking process.

Slice the meat accordingly and plate with condiments, salsa, garlic bread and other items. 

Things to Avoid
Things to avoid are smoking on windy days or in areas where the smoke will drift causing irritation to neighbors or family members.  

One key issue that can't be repeated enough is heat management.  Keep the doors closed unless absolutely necessary.  Remember, open doors mean heat loss which means longer cooking periods which can also make meat tough.  Manage heat to improve the overall end result. 

If you follow all these steps your ribs should turn our perfectly, just remove, cut, and serve.

Happy Barbecuing!


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