Wet vs. Dry Rub

Discussion in 'Sauces, Rubs & Marinades' started by fpmich, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    I'm a little confused.  No.  Make that a LOT Confused!

    Some folks used mustard, or oil," to get the rub to stick".  I've never had a problem getting rub to stick on patted dry meat, unless using too much.

    Some only pat dry and apply dry rub, and let air dry while smoker is heating up.  I'm in that group so far.

    Now, here is the question:  Wet vs Dry?

    I'm told that drier meat will take more smoke than wet.  And also that wet meat, meeting smoke, can give a creosote flavor, because water and smoke don't play well together.   In my limited experience that seems to hold true so far.   Now, I leave the meat a few minutes, to an hour in smoker to dry before adding additional smoke other than charcoal.

    I also understand that smoke will only penetrate bare exposed meat, and not the fat, other than outside of the fat.  Also true in my experience.

    So, educate me as to why to use mustard or oil, to coat meat before smoking.  You may be able to dry out mustard a bit in fridge, but oil won't.

    Seems to me that is you use oil or moist rub, you may as well do it in the oven, as not much smoke will penetrate anyway.

    Now this thread is no way meant to be argumentative.    I'm just trying to learn more.

    In the past when I question something, it gets misconstrued as argumentative. 

    I never meant for them to be, and I don't mean for this thread to be that either.     Just trying to learn more.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Frank, good questions are always appreciated. 

    I've not noticed "wet" meat having a creosote flavor.  By "wet" meat I mean meat that was wet either because it wasn't pat dried or it was sprayed/mopped during a smoke.  "Dirty" (white, grey, or black) smoke will always give meat an off flavor whether the meat is wet or dry.  I've found I can get away with a little grey smoke once it starts having hints of blue, but dirty smoke will turn meat black quickly with nasty tasting particulates if loaded too early.  It is especially noticeable on chicken.  Yep, learned that lesson the hard way.

    Water in a water pan is a different issue.  It makes a "wet smoke" environment for lack of a better term and more smoke will stick to the meat.  Works great for clean smoke, not so much for dirty smoke for the same issue as above.   

    Smoke really doesn't "penetrate" the meat.  It has a chemical reaction with the surface proteins in the fiber and if that fiber is covered with fat then the fat prevents it from happening.  It can happen eventually if all the fat is rendered, but the meat is usually done cooking by then. 

    Mustard and oil?  Supposedly used to give a better bark and to help rubs stick to the meat.  I tried mustard once or twice, didn't care for it at all.  I used oil quite a bit, especially chipotle infused EVOOs, and really couldn't taste any difference.  I did notice that with EVOO the oil often slid off the meat taking the rub with it.  That's when I went to dry only, no mustard or oil, and the rub adheres to the meat just fine.

    I came to the meat smoking world later in my life with decades of kitchen cooking and outdoor grilling experience under my belt.  I initially followed all the techniques of the experienced smoking folks even when they ran counter to my instincts, like mustard and piling on thick amounts of rubs.  I've discarded most of those techniques now and returned to what I know works for me.  And that's the key, what works for me.  If mustard, oil, thick rubs, margarine, wrapping, low n slow, hot n fast, standing on your head while whistling Rawhide and cracking a whip works for you, then by all means do it.  If something isn't working, have fun experimenting and to find what does.  I thoroughly enjoy that part of the process. 

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