Looking to make cooking easier for you; here are some
cooking tips & terms that you may find helpful.
Are Spice Union spice blends just for barbequing and smoking?
No. We offer suggested uses for each spice blend within the product description. Visit our recipe page for suggestions too. Many of the Spice Union spice blends go well with vegetables, French fries, even on popcorn! You can season stews, soups or even make your own barbeque sauce using the Spice Union spice blends (mix Spice Union Barbeque Spice Rub, ketchup, molasses and perhaps your favorite hot sauce).
If a seasoning blend has sugar listed as an ingredient:
It is best used with minimal direct heat cooking/grilling. We suggest putting some color on the food item over direct heat, but then finish it with indirect cooking.
We suggest smoking at temperatures no higher than 275°F for any foods seasoned with Spice Union spice blends that contain sugar.
Never put any sugar in your deep fat fryer. Use the Spice Union seasoning blends to season fried foods immediately after the food comes out of the fryer. Never season your coating with any spice blend that contains sugar. Why? #1- Sugar will caramelize and drop to the bottom of your fryer, which makes for a tough clean up. #2- Sugar will greatly shorten the useful lifespan of your fryer oil. #3- Burnt sugar is bitter and dark; flavors and colors you don't want to impart on your fried foods.
If a seasoning blend does not contain sugar:
You can always make a seasoning paste with some oil (vegetable oil, olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, etc.). Simply put the food item in a bowl and toss it with the seasoning blend and enough oil to coat each piece, but not have it swimming in oil. There should be no residual oil pooling in the bottom of the bowl.
It can be used to season coatings/breadings/batters for items that you plan to cook in a deep fat fryer.
To brine or not to brine?:
Consider the salt content of any spice blend in comparison to the cut of meat you will be cooking. Smaller cuts will readily accept salt and flavoring penetration into the meat simply with time. Deep penetration of salt and flavorings into larger cuts can be achieved with brining. If you're short on time, an hour in a brine solution for smaller cuts such as chicken parts or whole chicken will enhance the end product.
You can get great salt and flavoring penetration on ribs, chicken parts or a whole chicken simply by coating the meat in the seasoning mix and letting it sit in your refrigerator overnight.
Large cuts such as pork butt/shoulder or ham benefit greatly from time in a brine solution. You would not be breaking any rules by putting seasoning blend in the brining solution.
Recipe for a basic brining solution: 1 Gallon of water, 1/2 Cup Kosher salt, 2/3 Cup light brown sugar. Whisk until all the salt and sugar is dissolved. You can certainly add additional ingredients such as citrus fruit, peppercorns, bay leaf, spice blends (adjust for any salt & sugar content in the spice blend), garlic cloves, ginger, lemon grass, tea leaves, chili peppers, cloves, star anise, hot sauce, etc.
Time in the brine solution will vary depending on the meat. Chicken; 1 hour / Turkey; 2 hours / Pork butt/shoulder/ham; 6-7 hours
In order to achieve a crispy skin on your bird or pork, you'll want to pat the surface of the meat dry, liberally apply your spice blend, then let it air dry for several hours before cooking.
When smoking or barbequing:
It's all about time, temperature and attention.
If you can't commit to the time & attention required to make sure your barbeque or smoker temperature is maintained, we suggest 40-60 minutes of time on the barbeque or smoker, during which you keep the smoking chips in good supply.
After the initial 40-60 minutes, you can finish your cook in the oven at the same temperature as you would keep the barbeque or smoker. Slightly lower temperatures if you have the luxury of time. For ribs and brisket, we suggest that you wrap the individual rib racks or brisket tightly in foil and place on a sheet pan before placing in an oven. For larger cuts, such as pork butt or shoulder you can place the meat in a covered roasting pan before placing in the oven.
The 'finish in the oven' method not only frees up your time, but gives more control over the cooking temperature. Now you can get some lake time, head out to that little league game, get some chores done or join the party without being tethered to your cook.
How do you know when it's done?
For large cuts of meat such as half hog, pork butt or shoulder, or beef brisket (cuts that contain plenty of connective tissue); you need to allow the internal temperature of the meat to come to 185-195°F. At this temperature, the heat, combined with moisture in the meat, converts the connective tissue to collagen (essentially gelatin). Thus, making the meat tender.
When cooking ribs; whether pork, beef, buffalo, yak or whatever you can think might taste good; once you see the meat pulling back and exposing more of the bone tips, they're done!
Dark meat cuts of chicken can be tricky. We hear so much about making sure that the chicken is cooked all the way through. Yes, necessary, but it's easy to dry it out. For thighs, drummies and wings; once you see the meat pulling back and starting to expose some of the bone, they're done.
Not necessary, but always appreciated are finishing touches to your dishes. Depending on your personal preferences, geographic location (ongoing battle between pitmasters) and whats on hand, you'll likely want to put some finishing touches on your masterpiece. It could be your favorite barbeque sauce to glaze the chicken, vinegar and Spice Union spice blend added to pulled pork, or honey mustard to a rack of ribs. The possibilities are endless.
Keep in mind that many of these finishing touches contain high amounts of sugar. If you plan to 'put a little char' on the finishing glaze, it doesn't take long to go from sweet and shiny to bitter and charred. Keep the lid of the barbeque open and stay nearby. It would be a shame to mess things up right at the end of a beautiful cook.
Terms & Definitions:
Baby Back Ribs: Baby back ribs (also back ribs or loin ribs) are a pork cut taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. The designation "baby" indicates the cuts are from market-weight hogs weighing 240–270 lbs.
St. Louis Style Spareribs: St. Louis Style Spareribs are the meatier part of the pork ribs; taken from the middle part of rib cage, between the baby back ribs and the rib tips.
Beef Tri Tip: A cut of beef from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut. It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs.
"Beer-Can" Chicken: A combination of roasting through indirect grilling and steaming a chicken from inside the cavity. To achieve this, a half-full can of beer or any other liquid contained in an aluminum can is forced into the cavity of a chicken. The chicken is then stood upright on the can in a grill or smoker. Indirect Grilling or Smoke Roasting is the most common way to cook "Beer-Can" Chicken.
Braising: The food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in some liquid.
Cold Smoking: A process of flavoring, cooking or preserving foods by exposing it to smoke from a burning or smoldering material such as wood or tea. Cold Smoking is accomplished at temperatures between 68°F and 86°F.
Direct Heat Grilling: A high heat method used to cook relatively small or thin pieces of food quickly. Typical foods that are direct grilled include steaks, chops, chicken breasts, fish fillets, vegetables, and bread.
Hot Smoking: A process of flavoring, cooking or preserving foods by exposing it to smoke from a burning or smoldering material such as wood or tea. Hot Smoking is accomplished at temperatures between 126°F and 176°F.
Indirect Heat Grilling: A barbecue cooking technique in which the food is placed to the side of the heatsource instead of directly over the flame, as is more common. This can be achieved by igniting only some burners on a gas barbeque or by piling coals to one side of a charcoal barbeque.
Pork Butt/Boston Butt: A cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone.
Roasting: A dry heat cooking method that can be achieved either in an conventional oven, wood burning oven or through indirect grilling.
Sauté or Pan Sear: A method of cooking food, that uses a small amount of oil or fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. Ingredients are usually cut into pieces or thinly sliced to facilitate fast cooking.
Smoke Roasting or Pit Roasting: Any process that has the attributes of smoking combined with either roasting or baking. This smoking method is sometimes referred to as "barbequing". It may be done in a smoke roaster, closed wood-fired masonry oven or barbeque pit by placing a pan filled with hardwood chips on the floor of the oven so the chips smolder and produce a smokebath. Smoke Roasting or Pit Roasting is accomplished at temperatures above 225°F.
Traditional Blackening Method: The food is dipped in melted butter and then dredged in Blackening Spice Blend. It is then cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet.
How to cut a Tri Tip:
Tri Tip has two different muscle grains to the roast. In order to properly slice a Tri Tip, you need to first separate the two muscles in order expose the muscle grains to ensure you slice against the muscle fibers. Click here to see a diagram of how to cut a Tri Tip roast.