Why it is the Bark That Makes the BBQ

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It doesn’t matter if it is pulled pork, brisket, ribs, or even chicken, there is one thing that makes for some unforgettable barbecue. While the sauce is nice, what you really crave in that chewy, crispy, sumptuous bark full of complex flavor. Is it something you can only get from a good smoking? It is not the smoke that gives that amazing crust, but rather the spices.

The process of creating an excellent bark starts with the spice rub. Everyone has their own favorite, but salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder remain pretty standard staples. The key is that some spices dissolve in water while others will dissolve only in fat. By cooking the meat low and slow, both the water vapor and the melting fat on the meat have a chance to spread and permeate the spice rub throughout the meat. However, as both of those factors render or evaporate, it allows the spice rub to start to dry.

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It is this drying process that creates the jerky-like bark that we know and love. As the combination of water and fat soluble spices allow the spices to stick to the meat instead of sliding off, the low heat allows them to dry on there. However, really it is the sugar that is the star of a good bark because it first creates a glaze and then hardens on the meat.

However, while the bark may be your favorite part, always remember that it serves a purpose. That bark is not only a tasty treat, but it seals in the juices in the meat to assure that you always get a great piece of barbecue.

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