Good barbecue: Is it the rub? Or is it the sauce?

features@beaufortgazette.comJune 5, 2012 

When it comes to barbecue, everyone has an opinion. Is it the rub or the sauce? Is it the fire or the smoke? At any rate, there is nothing like a man over a grill or in the kitchen cooking barbecue. I just move out of the way when the men in my life, my husband or son, decide to take over and prepare a barbecue meal.

This weekend promises to be barbecue-filled with the High on the Hog BBQ cook-off for Habitat for Humanity. I will be there to test and taste everything. What a wonderful way to identify the great chefs and those who have fun with food while helping a worthy cause.

The key to grilling is what you do before, during and after with the rubs, marinades, shakes, glazes and sauces.

  • Rubs and marinades: These kinds of preparations make it easy to infuse meat, fish and poultry with favor. Rubs and marinades are typically left on the food for some time before cooking begins, often up to 24 hours.

  • Shakes and glazes: Basting with a shake or a glaze as the food grills can add wonderful taste while keeping the food juicy and moist.

  • * Sauces: The perfect sauce can bring out the flavor of even the most ordinary piece of meat or fish. The amount of sauce you serve will depend on its potency. Consistency is also relevant -- you will need less of a thicker sauce than a thinner one. Use about 2 to 3 tablespoons of an intensely flavored sauce a serving; for lighter-flavored sauces, count on 1/3 cup a serving.


    This dry rub is rubbed on pork and left on overnight.

    1 tablespoon salt

    1 tablespoon sugar

    1 tablespoon light brown sugar

    1 tablespoon ground cumin

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

    11/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    2 tablespoons paprika

    In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Rub the meat with the mixture. Place the meat in a nonreactive pan, cover and refrigerate overnight.


    This shake is used continually during the slow cooking of pork, either on the grill or in a pit. It is also called a mopping sauce -- dip a clean cloth in the sauce and shake it over the meat. One can tie a cloth on a dowel and use it to continue to apply sauce. Some great cooks declare the secret to great grilling is in the mopping.

    2 cups white distilled vinegar

    2 cups apple cider vinegar

    2 tablespoons sugar

    2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

    2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

    Combine the vinegars, sugar, red pepper flakes and Tabasco in a large jar with a lid and shake. Let stand overnight for the flavors to develop. If tightly covered, the shake will keep in the refrigerator for a month.


    1 stick margarine

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 (14-ounce) bottle ketchup

    1 teaspoon chili powder

    2 tablespoons brown sugar

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

    1/3 cup vinegar

    1 cup water

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    1/2 cup cola beverage or beer

    Melt the margarine in a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except cola beverage, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cola beverage and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. This can be used on pork or beef.

    Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at

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