BBQ mop recipes are used by true BBQ fans, as well as professional on the competition circuit. If you are one of those fans, you know what I mean. You take every step you can to improve your BBQ. A good mop is one of those steps.
A mop is a thin basting sauce used during cooking (usually during slow smoking). It adds a little flavor, but primarily, it's used to keep the meat from getting dry.
They call it a mop because it is applied with a mop (or something smaller that looks like a mop). Although some people use a spray bottle instead of a brush or mop.
To apply a mop during smoking means that you have to open the door (or lid). When that happens, heat and smoke escape. This causes the temperature around the meat to drop. (And after all that work you did to get the temperature just right, and keep it that way.)
So, we have uncovered a new art form, when it comes to BBQ. This art is the balancing act of maintaining moisture (with mop) and maintaining a constant temperature (around 220 degrees).
If you apply a mop too often, the temperature drops, meat cooks unevenly, and it takes longer to cook. The longer the meat smokes (without a mop), the drier it will become.
Usually a mop is applied every hour, or at least 2 or 3 times during cooking. At most apply it every 30 minutes. When you do apply it, be quick about it and get the lid closed again.
Mops must not be too high in sugar content or they will burn during cooking. Sugars, tomato sauce and ketchup will all burn. Mops may have these ingredients in them, as well as other things like brown sugar, butter, oils, and BBQ sauce. But their amounts are usually small. If they were too high, like in BBQ sauce, burning would be the final crust.
One of the most common and simple BBQ mop recipes is this:
90% apple juice
This is thin enough it can also be applied using a spray bottle. Other mops may have additional seasonings to help with flavor. But they all are generally thin.
Beer and beef stock are commonly used as a base in mops, too. These are some ingredients in the "Texas" style of a mop.
2 cans of beer
8 oz Worcestershire sauce
1 chopped white onion
1 sliced lemon
1 cup of black coffee (brewed)
several cloves of chopped garlic
a few chopped jalapeño peppers
a little butter
6 oz yellow mustard
4 oz flavored vinegar (such as cider)
hot pepper sauce or flakes
honey or BBQ sauce (if you need a little sweetness)
Heat this up and keep it warm on your firebox during cooking. If you start to run a little low, just add another can of beer.
Some of the best BBQ pit masters in the world swear by their BBQ mop recipes. It can greatly affect the outcome of your meat. Experiment, have fun, get another drink, and try again.