Bark is that beautiful, mahogany crust that forms on your ribs, shoulders, butts and briskets when you slow-smoke them just right.
The bark should look brown – but never black. If you have black bark, then you have burnt bark.
There are a few simple steps to getting the perfect looking and tasting bark. Use these steps and your BBQ bark will turn out every single time.
Step #1: Save the Sugar for the End
The simple fact is that sugar burns and that burning can ruin your bark. Stay away from rubs that have a high sugar content at first. You can always come back in the last 1 -2 hours and apply a sugar rub or glaze.
Step #2: Trim your Meat
Too much fat keeps bark from forming on your meat, but no fat will leave a tasteless bark. You want to leave a nice, thin layer of fat. This thin layer will render during the smoking process and give that bark an excellent flavor.
Step #3: Smoke – Don’t Steam!
When slow-smoking BBQ, we often wrap our meat in aluminum foil. This is an excellent way to achieve the level of tenderness you want. But when you wrap your meat for too long you are going to end up steaming your meat instead of smoking it. The smoke has to hit your meat to make the bark – so limit the time in foil.
Step #4: Build Your Bark at the End
The best way I have found to build beautiful, delicious bark is by basting a glaze on my meat – every 15 minutes – for the last 1 – 2 hours. The glaze can have a high sugar content too because it will only caramelize in that last hour – not burn completely.
It doesn’t matter what kind of smoker you are cooking on – dry smoke or a water pan smoker – you can achieve stunning, mahogany bark if you follow these 4 steps.