Barbecues are great for summer or fall entertaining. A bit of planning can go a long way toward making the day hassle free and enjoyable. Here are some tips for putting on a great BBQ event and recipes for a few delicious meat rubs to boot.

It’s wise to clean up your charcoal barbecue or smoker each time after it’s been used. After the grill cools off, clean off any stuck-on bits of meat using a wire brush. Then, use warm, soapy water to clean the rest of the grill. If you have a gas barbecue, clean it by burning off the grill for a short time. Keep your tools handy and be sure to clean them after each use.

Before beginning to cook, take your meat from the refrigerator and put it in a cool place to bring it to an ambient temperature prior to cooking it. The reward for planning ahead will be a more juicy piece of meat.

Never mix raw foods together in the same marinade and always use separate chopping boards for each meat to prevent cross-contamination.

Always cook your food completely. Check the doneness of your ribs, pork chops, or chicken by piercing the thickest part of the piece of meat with a sharp knife. If the juices are pink, cook the meat longer until the juices run clear.

Plan ahead and marinate your meat or poultry in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours prior to barbecuing. They’ll soak up the flavor of the marinade and be primed for cooking. Make up some separate marinade (no raw meat juice) for basting as well.

As promised, here are a few basic rubs for barbecuing.

Pork Rub

Pulled pork cooked in a smoker is especially good using this rub.

Combine all ingredients together: ¼ cup freshly ground black pepper, ¼ cup paprika, three tablespoons each of sugar and sea salt, and two teaspoons each of dry mustard and cayenne pepper. You’ll want to work this mixture into the meat anywhere from 12 to 24 hours before cooking. Right before smoking the meat, rub the rest of the mixture into it. This rub will accommodate about 5 to 6 pounds of meat.

Rib Rub

This rub can be mixed up to be mild or on the spicy side, depending on your preference. 
Mix together: ¼ cup chili pepper (either mild or medium), ¼ cup paprika, ¼ cup freshly ground black pepper, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Add to this a tablespoon each of cayenne pepper (again, the amount is up to you), sea salt, and garlic powder. Put a generous amount of rub onto each side of the rack of ribs and cook as usual.

It is relatively simple to create your own rub right in your own kitchen. Just keep in mind a few key concepts. The first is that the proportion of salt in your recipe should be enough to draw moisture from the surface of the meat. The proportion of the sugar in your rub should not be high since it tends to caramelize and burn during the cooking process.

Some common ingredients contained in rubs are paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne, oregano, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, sage, or any other spice you and your family enjoy. Simply adjust the amounts of the ingredients to your taste.

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