Mustard Slather on Brisket and Other Meats

Started by Pachanga, October 23, 2009, 08:24:11 AM

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I recently posted a thread on Authentic Texas Barbecued Brisket ( ).  It was basically photos to go along with a brisket recipe I posted some time ago (   As I reviewed the photos, I felt there needed to be an additional explanation concerning the mustard slather on the briskets.  The briskets looked bright yellow as if thickly covered with mustard.  They were, in fact, lightly slathered so that the meat texture and color is visible under the thin film. The mustard is probably no thicker than half a wooden pencil lead in the thickest areas.  They may look more yellow due to most photos being taken on the fat cap side which is white.  Later photos show the final result.  There is a dark bark and no sign of the mustard.

You can see the meat through this coating on the lean side.

I first saw a mustard slather used on a large ham hung from an eight foot log tripod over an open coal fire.  My initial thought was "What a waste of meat".  Hours later, dinner was served and it was delicious.  The ham had developed a beautiful dark amber bark and did not taste anything like mustard.   This old dog can learn a new trick so I started studying mustard slathers.  

I admit to being overly studious when I become interested in a subject.  After a long education process, I realized that a mustard slather is really only limited by the imagination.  Bourbon, tequila, beer, coffee, tea, soft drinks, Worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, peppers, spices, herbs, pickle juice, soy sauce, wine, brown sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, apple juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, grape jelly, ketchup, lemonade powder, horseradish, honey, barbecue sauces, vinegar, etc. etc. etc. are mixed with every variety of mustard known to man and lightly painted or patted onto the meat.

I also like to be educated as to the science or mechanics that causes a certain practice to be successful. The theory is that this slather helps to tenderize the meat when combined with vinegar in the mustard and other added ingredients.  Mustard is made of mustard flour, vinegar and other ingredients.  Science tells us that the enzymes in the mustard flour breaks down collagen that acts as connective tissue in meats.  Vinegar is an acid.  When exposed to acid collagen is softened to gelatin.  The collagen fibers exhibit swelling and retain more water. This opens the meat up to accept the flavors of the rub.  Therefore, mustard slather reacts with meat using two distinct properties; enzymes and acids.  The slather also aids in moisture retention and flavor absorption.  This produces a flavorful, moist and tender meat.  At the same time, it produces a nice crust or bark on the meat. This stuff sounds like a miracle drug for a Q'er.

Does the mustard leave a taste?  Not a mustard flavor.  It leaves a more intense bark flavor and a thicker crust or bark.  If you have smoked very long, you have probably used or tasted vinegar mop or baste.  I think of mustard as an extension of this type baste only the mustard adheres to the meat for the entire smoke without repeated mopping.  Other benefits are not having to mop early before the rub and bark start to firm up prevents washing the rub off.  Opening the Bradley often to mop increases the cooking time due to slow heat recovery.  After the bark firms up and the meat has obtained a decent temperature a mop, baste or spritz can be applied to build up a layered bark without washing the firmed bark off and heat recovery is faster.  The door is being opened for other checks anyway later in the smoke.

Lean side of finished brisket.  It is tender and moist on the inside.

I use mustard slathers with success on brisket, ribs, ham, loins, chicken, goat and fish.  The longer the smoke, the more character it develops.  Thin meats like ribs turn out perfect and moist even though I do not foil during the cooking process.  Cabrito is improved tremendously.

If you haven't tried mustard slather, give it a chance and see how it turns out on your next smoke. Make the slather your own by adding your favorite ingredients.  Don't be surprised if you get winning smiles from your guests because mustard slathers have been instrumental in winning many major smoking competitions.  A word of advice, don't tell anyone what the bark is until they have tasted it.  This may become one more bullet in your smoking arsenal.

Good luck and slow smoking.


Other brisket threads.

Brisket Pachanga

Photos to go with the recipe

I Prefer to Smoke Totally Naked - A Brisket and Ribs Manifesto

So your brisket doesn't fit - solution here

How do you make burnt ends?

To Mop or Not to Mop – That is the Question

Calling All Mop Recipes


Thats a good explanation, you should have been a school teacher.

I use the CYM on quite a few things my self.


Well put!! That's a great write up on Mustard Slathers Pachanga
Bacon is the Crack Cocaine of the Food World.

Be careful about calling yourself and EXPERT! An ex is a has-been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure!



I'm in your camp, Pachanga. The mustard doesn't really impart any flavor and it helps the rub stick better. Definitely leaves a nice crust! I've only used it on ribs and pork butt so far, but results have been great on both.

Here's a pork butt I did the other day - mustard rubdown, applied rub, no foil.

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Pachanga, Monty... I am soo hungry.

Excellant jobs

I am not as "think" as you "drunk" I am.


Use mustard slather on everything except fish and fowl.


Will the use of a spicy brown mustard , Jack Daniel or Jim Beam mustard or deli mustard instead of a yellow mustard make a difference in the outcome?


If you can't smoke don't need it!!!



The mustard will still perform its magical enzyme and acid trick on the brisket.  The spicy brown will be like additional ingredients to a rub.  I have blended spicy brown with plain yellow and it was very good.  One way to test your taste buds is to do a half and half mixture on a brisket and then step it up to full spicy brown on the next one if you like the first outcome.

Either way, you are going to get a great product.

Let me know the results.

See you around the pit.  Good luck and slow smoking.



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Thanks for helping extol the virtues of a mustard slather.  Your photos exhibit a work of art.  That is one beautiful bark you have produced.  What is in the rub if you don't mind me asking?  

You have inspired me to think about a pork butt or ham beside the brined turkey on Thanksgiving this year.

I'm glad to be in the same camp.

See you around the pit.  Good luck and slow smoking.




I apply my rub first and pat it in.  Then I apply the slather.  Others apply the slather as a tacky surface to help hold the rub.  In fact, most do it the second method.  My meat is always wet enough that the rub sticks and I can press it in a little.  Some people use a brush and paint the slather on very thin.  I pat mine on with bare hands and go a hair thicker.  I like the direct contact with the meat.  I do not think it makes much difference in the long run. 

I am working on a reply to your fat cap question on the Authentic Texas Brisket Thread.  I should have it up in a few minutes.

Be sure and read  the recipe Brisket Pachanga (  It will answer a lot of questions but I will be happy to help in anyway.  I am excited for you on this first brisket.  I want it to turn out perfect.

I know that there are varying opinions on this subject and it can get confusing.  There is a lot of good advice from some fine Q'ers on this site and I am certainly not disparaging their efforts and methods. Brisket Pachanga works for me and produces Authentic Texas Style Brisket.  There is research, science, experience and the art of many others as well as myself in this technique.  I think you will like it.  My dogs do not fare well after I serve up brisket.  There are no scraps.

See you around the pit.  Good luck and slow smoking.




We apply my rub first and pat it in and then I apply the slather and add more rub.

Dr. Evil

I dont like mustard at all - but its sure adds to the flavor of ribs and makes them so much better.
Brian Bradley for Prime Minister !!



What do you typically mix with the mustard to create a basic slather?