A marinade is a liquid made of herbs and spices in an acidic liquid like wine, vinegar or citrus. A marinade accomplishes two things: firstly, it adds flavor, and secondly, the acids break down connective tissues, making the meat more tender. A tough cut of meat should marinate for at least 4 hours while more tender meats like fish, chicken or filets should marinate for 2 hours or less. Letting meat sit in a marinade too long will turn it to mush and no one wants that.
A dry rub is a mix of spices and herbs that add flavor but don’t tenderize. They typically consist of salt, pepper, and sugar (usually brown), but can be combined with any assortment of herbs for whatever flavor profile you prefer. A rub is a perfect way to add flavor and surface texture to steaks, and the best way to make a flavorful crust on smoked brisket or pork.
You can apply the rub right before cooking, but in order to get the most flavor, apply it at least an hour before cooking. Remember, contrary to the name, rubs should be gently patted on, not rubbed.
At Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse, we offer a fantastic Texas BBQ Rub with just a touch of heat. Our Smokehouse Seasoning has a little more heat and is delicious on just about anything you want to taste better. We recommend mixing the two together for the perfect balance of “y’all come get it” and “if you touch my plate I will cut you.”
The key here is to experiment and discover what you like; there’s no wrong way to BBQ because as long as you’ve got heat and meat – you’re good.