It’s really interesting how many debates there are when you start talking about BBQ; who has the best sauce, which cut of meat is the best and rubs versus sauce. Each debate is argued as passionately as a parent who defends his or her child. I wondered how the BBQ sauce versus rub would play out so I decided to look into it.
A BBQ sauce is something wet that is applied to the cut of meat being cooked. There are basically two types of sauce. One would be a marinade that the meat is in prior to being cooked. The other is a sauce that is put on the meat as it is cooking. These wet sauces soak into the meat. The benefits to a sauce are it keeps the meat moist, it adds bold or mild flavor and it makes a cheaper cut of meat taste better. On the rub side, a dry rub is rubbed onto the meat and creates a kind of crisp flavorful coating on the meat. This coating will work to seal in juices. A rub is best used on a fatty cut of meat. Rubs are easy to make on your own. A traditional rub is started with two ingredients, sugar and salt. The sugar will form the crust and tenderize the meat. The salt draws moisture from the cut of meat to the surface, enhancing the taste. Too much salt will dry out the meat and too much sugar can burn the meat and leave a bitter taste so caution should be used when making your rub. A rub’s flavor is subtle and cooking takes less time.
It appears the big difference in sauces or rubs would be how you are going to cook the meat. Both can be cooked over a grill and come out just fine. A cut of meat started with a rub can even have a sauce added to the end of the cooking. A rub is the preferred choice when smoking a cut of meat. The rub allows the smoke to permeate the meat. And when it comes to cooking with a sauce it seems it’s preferred not to smother the meat with the sauce. Some meat is cooked and has the sauce added at the end while others baste it on the entire time it’s cooking.
As with anything, it all boils or should I say grills down to your own tastes. Do yourself a flavor, I mean favor and try it both ways. After all, you can never have too much BBQ.