What to Use for Basting Meat on a Smoker


Meat smoking takes a long time on an outdoor smoker to achieve that succulent, falling-off-the bone tenderness prized by barbecue connoisseurs. Thick cuts like beef brisket and bone-in pork roasts might need 12 hours or more on the smoker, depending on weight, so it's important to keep the meat moist and prevent it from drying out and becoming tough.

Mopping sauce for beef

  • Experienced grillmeisters prepare a mopping sauce for regular basting of their culinary creations during the long hours of smoking. Recipes can be simple or elaborate, so long as the sauce keeps the meat moist and promotes tenderizing.
    Thick cuts of meat such as beef brisket need to be basted about once an hour to keep the beef moist and tender. A good mopping sauce will also include a weak acid for breaking down the tough sinew and connective tissues in the brisket to tenderize the meat. Good ingredients for beef basting include red wine vinegar (for acidity) and Worcestershire sauce (for tangy flavor). These ingredients can be embellished with cracked peppercorns, minced garlic, powdered mustard, and cayenne pepper to give the beef some heat. Proportions are a matter of personal taste.

Mopping sauce for pork

  • Pork shoulder slow-smoked for hours makes great pig-pulling barbecue. Keep the pork juicy and delicious by basting hourly with a mop sauce. A classic mop sauce for pork involves dissolving brown sugar into apple cider vinegar for a lip-smacking combination of sweetness and acidity. Paprika and chili powder add Southwestern flavor. Substitute a can of room-temperature beer or cheap, red table wine if cider vinegar is unavailable.

Far East Mopping Sauces

  • For more exotic flavors when smoking meat and game, try an Asian baste of Soy Sauce, fresh minced ginger and coconut milk. Indian mop sauces can be prepared with Sesame oil, white vinegar and curry powder to taste. There are hundreds of curries available at grocers and specialty food stores for the backyard chef who likes to experiment.
    Use a small metal saucepan with a handle and a silicon basting brush to apply mop sauce to the meat. Fire gloves or heavy work gloves are also handy for turning over large cuts to baste the other side.

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