BBQ Slang 101: How To Talk Like A Real-Life Pitmaster

Posted in Events, News

There is no shortage of blackened brisket or vinegar-laced pork sandwiches in Boydton this weekend! However, you need to know the language to penetrate the underground BBQ fraternity of smokers, sauces, and pit bosses. 

We rounded up a group of pitmasters participating in Boydton’s Big Bad BBQ Battle to compe up with a glossary of in-the-know BBQ terms. 

PIT BOSS – Also heralded as the pitmaster, this is the smoky, sweaty renegade who presides over the red-hot coals to create the beautiful, char-encrusted proteins of perfection that we all know and love.

BURNT ENDS –  These morsels of smoked brisket – crispy, fatty bark bits – are a delicacy to many a BBQ lover. They also go by the name meat candy. 

BARK – This is the flavorful outer layer of crust that forms during the BBQing process. Here’s what required:

  • A good spice rub containing salt and sugar – other spices help to create spice crust that is thicker
  • Temperature – Too low and you get no bark….too high and you get char (BLEH!). A temperature of 200°F-250°F is just right 
  • Smoke – Smoke from wood or charcoal for cooking can range from bluish, to white, to gray, to yellow, to brown, and even black. However, the most desirable smoke is almost invisible with a pale blue tint. Blue smoke is the holy grail of low and slow pitmasters, especially for long cooks.

MOP – Brushing this vinegar-based sauce on a piece of meat before and during cooking to add layers and layers of flavor and caramelization. One of many well-kept secrets by a pitmaster, this sauce is sometimes generations old and made from simple and sometimes complex flavors to add complexity to the final product. 

SMOKE RING – Smoking meats leads to a release of nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. When combined with myoglobin, a protein found in the meat, a coveted pink hue called the “smoke ring” appears just underneath the bark. Often considered the sign of a good brisket.

MONEY MUSCLE – This choice piece of pork, located high on the shoulder, is moist and flavorful. As its name implies, it often pulls in the loot during competitions or is saved as the spoils for the pitmaster for their hard work.

THE STALL – This is the period of smoking when the temperature seems to have peaked, event though it is still well below the temperature you want to achieve. It should be called ‘The Darkest Hours’ to indicate the devastation felt by many a pitmaster at the possibility of having wasted countless hours in the smoke. If a pro, the pitmaster will know that this isn’t the end, but only the beginning of something truly great!