Getting fall-off-the-bone barbecue has its challenges. Seventy-eight-time grand champion pitmaster Jim Johnson shares his list of do’s and don’ts for your next backyard barbecue.
Do Keep It Low and Slow
Johnson recommends cooking ribs anywhere from 225 to 275 degrees for three to five hours. Cook time depends on the cuts of meat, which have different fat contents that require a longer stay in the smoker.
Do Decide If Meat Should Grill or Smoke
“A burger has been ground up, and it will cook evenly all the way through,” Johnson says. “A rib or a pork shoulder has connective tissue. It needs a longer period of time exposed to heat to break all that down and make it soft and tender so it falls off the bone.”
Don’t Add Sauce until the End
Apply sauce too early, and it can become gummy or even burn.
“The minute we add any ingredient that has sugar or tomato-based product, such as barbecue sauce, over an open flame, it over-caramelizes and turns black long before the product’s finished,” Johnson says. “Always add your sauce at the very end, about 15-30 minutes before removing it.”
Don’t Put Bark in Your Bite
Remember to trim the bark off the wood before adding it to the smoker. Johnson warns that mold, mildew, and insects that gather on bark will give your meat an “off flavor.” Also, be careful not to add too much wood to avoid over-smoking your food.
Find more barbecue tips from Johnson at bbqbyjimjohnson.com.