Sonoran Living BBQ Challenge: Important things to know about grilling

Are you about to grill up some food? Chef Mark Hittle from Bobby Q's in Phoenix shares some important tips below that everyone should know when it comes to grilling.


  • Always buy fresh meat. Fresh meat will always be juicier then any that has been pre-frozen.
  • Brisket - look for large cuts with the point on.  The point has more marbling then the "flat" part which helps keep the juices in while smoking.  
  • Ribs - I use a 2 to 2-1/2 lb rib.  If you buy a larger one, it could easily come out dry.
  • Pork - Use a fresh bone-in Pork shoulder.  These are usually around 7 lbs, and the bone heats first and helps cook the meat without drying it out.


Rubs are a very important part of smoking. If applied properly, they help seal the flavor of the meat in and form a tasty crust over the meat.  Season Pork and Brisket heavily. Season Ribs and Chicken medium. Pre-season for up to 24 hours for a more flavorful smoked meat.  


All smokers are different. Get to know your smoker by using it. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't come out right the first time, just try it a little different.  Keep your smoker clean use real wood, or pellets.

It doesn't hurt to talk to it while you are using it, and sometimes its better to take a nap than keep checking it.


  • Most smoking takes place between 200 to 250 degrees.
  • Brisket and pork smoke more towards 200 and take 12-18 hours, while ribs and chicken smoke higher (closer to 250) and take 2 to 3 hours to finish. Most smoke flavor come from the first 2 hours of cooking, so make sure your smoker is hot, ready to go, and loaded with wood at the beginning.
  • Try to keep your smoker at whatever temp you have picked to smoke at by using wood, and opening/closing the air vents. 
  • Open the vents to increase temperature, or close to decrease.  


  • Wood flavors vary, so you need to know what is best for your taste. Pecan is a mellow flavored wood, and it's hard to over-smoke with it. It's not a" super hot" burning wood, so if you need a little hotter, add some mesquite to the mix. 
  • Hickory is another favorite, with a heavier smoke flavor. Real wood chips work well, just remember to soak them in water so they smoke instead of burning away.
  • Don't ever use liquid smoke in place of wood!  


Baste mopping begins when the meat is about 1/2 way cooked. From this point on, brush a little sauce on the product every half hour for the remainder of the time it cooks.


  • Good luck -- BBQ timing is difficult. Sometimes a Brisket takes 14 hours, sometimes 18.
  • Plan on the most time, and if your product is done early, just hold it in a cooler until you are ready to use it.  This works great for Pork and Brisket. 
  • Try to get the ribs as close to your dinner time as possible as they will dry out if held too long.

Bobby Q's
8501 N. 27th Ave
Phoenix, Arizona 85051

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