Labor Day Barbecue Tips from Miami's Top Pastor and Grillmaster

It can sometimes be hard to find Mark Gibson -- the pastor-turned-grillmaster and owner of Ribs-2-Go catering -- among the swarm of candy colored food trucks rolling around Wynwood. It's easy, however, to smell him.

He's not on Twitter nor did he even want to be mentioned by name when, with Labor Day approaching, he offered some grilling tips for those with less (wo)man hours spent over the pit.

Gibson moved from Compton to Dania Beach in 2006 as a full time pastor. In 2009 he was transferred to Miami, but only for part-time preaching. He started selling barbecue to his Liberty City flock and later began hitching a metal cage with a built-in grill to his white Ford E Class pickup. You can usually find him around Wynwood and the Design District on weekends selling slabs of ribs, pork brisket, and smoked chicken thigh. At the moment you can find him outside Wood Tavern on Sundays during their "Backyard Boogie." It's not the prettiest of mobile food operations, but it's a no gimmicks, good eatin' kind of operation that has staying power.

Here's some barbecue wisdom:

5. "Use That Hickory Wood"
Most people like to use oak because it's readily available, Gibson said. Yet nothing puts good smoke on meat like hickory. Gibson suggested picking it up at a Bass Pro Shop. If you're using wood chips, he added, soak them in water before throwing them on the fire. They'll burn slower that way. An hour should do the trick.

4. "It Doesn't Take a Lot of Charcoal"
Anyone who likes grilling was at some point in their life likely enthralled by setting things alight. Gibson emphasized the importance of resisting the urge to pile up a mountain of charcoal, douse it with lighter fluid and set it ablaze like a funeral pyre. "A lot of people like to put a lot charcoal in and put on a lot of lighter flue and their meat tastes like lighter fluid or charcoal," he said. If you're doing a backyard barbecue, all you need is a handful of charcoal, let it heat up and turn grey and you'll be good.

3. Marinate Your Meat
Give your liver a break, and let your meat marinate overnight in either beer or wine.

2. Stop Playing With Your Meat
Do you have a friend who likes to stand over the grill, constantly flipping and prodding at your fine piece of protein? You tell him or her to stop that right now. Leaving meat alone on the grill actually helps it cook quicker and lets it develop a flavorful crispy caramelized crust. If using direct heat Gibson advised checking on the meat every 15 or so minutes. If using indirect heat let them go untouched for at least a half hour.

1. "You Pull That Membrane Off"
This is specifically for ribs. When you buy a rack, flip it over and you'll notice an opaque, whitish membrane lining the bones and meat. If you want any flavor, if you want your marinade or rub to really penetrate the meat, that's got to go. A friend from Texas taught me to slip the handle of a metal spoon under the membrane, using the bone as leverage. This will give you a corner to grab and let you pull off the rest of the membrane, sort of like pulling a sticker off its backing. "No matter what type of seasoning you're doing it doesn't matter," Gibson said. "If you take that membrane off when you season it it will penetrate better and that's the key."

Gibson wouldn't divulge what's in his rubs, but said he's trying to bottle it and get it into stores.

For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird

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