Wet Mops

From Smoke & Spice
by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

wet mop

Mops, or bastes, play an important role in traditional barbecuing. These liquids that you apply to meat during the cooking process are an old and honored way of keeping food moist and adding an extra layer of flavor. Their usefulness today, however, varies considerably, depending on the kind of cooking equipment you have. We include mops in most of our barbecue recipes, but we make them optional because the design of some smokers precludes or discourages basting...

A mop can be something as simple as beer or meat stock, or a combination of ingredients as complex as an IRS form. Butter or oil are primary elements when cooking fish, chicken, and other food that dries out easily. It's also common to use vinegar or lemon juice, some Worcestershire, and a healthy dose of the same seasonings you used in your rub, paste, or marinade. In some cases, the marinade itself simply becomes the mop after a vigorous boiling.

You usually baste the food with a cotton string tool that resembles a miniature floor mop, often available at restaurant supply stores or businesses specializing in outdoor cooking supplies. Keep the liquid warm during the cooking process to kill any bacteria the tool might pick up from the surface of the food and to avoid lowering the temperature of the food. When you're working with a pit, the baste can simmer in a heavy pan on top of the firebox or you may need to keep it on the stove inside. Replenish the liquid as needed. The long cooking concentrates the flavor and creates an increasingly robust brew that is sometimes boiled and served as a table sauce with the meat.

Foods with little or no fat may require regular mopping, as our recipes indicate, but don't overdo it. Every time you lift the lid of your smoker, you lower the temperature inside and increase the cooking time. That's desirable only if the fire gets too hot, when it helps to release heat and cool the meat with a little moisture. We suggest many different bastes in our recipes later in the book, but the ones that follow are representative of the range. They demonstrate the core principles and ingredients, and may give you ideas for developing special mops of your own.


Smoke & Spice:
The Real Way to Barbecue



From Smoke & Spice
by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison
Harvard Common Press
$16.95 / Paperback
ISBN 1-55832-110-1
Reprinted by permission.
Copyright 1994. All rights reserved.


All About Marinades

The electronic Gourmet Guide launched in 1994 and later merged into the Global Gourmet website in 1998 (now This is an edited archive of one of those early pages.


Modified June 2007