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want of a smoke ring

EricEric Posts: 83
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
Hi all, back from Memphis in May BBQ cook off. Had a blast. Had 2 large eggs and cooked a ton of food for the team ( the team I was on is a more "social" rather than hard core Q team. [p]We competed in the ribs contest... and got our butts handed to us in the rankings- despite many, many many comments that our ribs were "better" than some of the top 10 teams. Ofcourse taste is not the only thing judged in this comp.[p]One thing that hurt us was a lack of a smoke ring on the ribs. There was a great balanced smoke taste that went great w/ our rub and sauce (served on the side) but no smoke ring despite 4.5-5 hours on the BGE with a good volume of smoke the whole time.[p]Sure could use some collective knowledge on the science of the smoke ring. Is it a function of just time of exposure to the smoke or is it a volume of smoke issue or is it just magic?[p]Thanks Eric[p]


  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    the ring stops forming when the meat on the exterior (the meat involved in the smoke ring, that is) reaches 140. that's not the internal temp of the meat at the center, but the outer portion. it is formed by nitric acid, which forms on the meat from nitrites in the smoke. the acid then wicks in to the meat, and turns the hemoglobin in the muscle into the pink color you want. the nitrites come from wood-fueled fire (or charcoal, which was wood to begin with).[p]some folks put their meat on cold, rather than room temp. that means the meat is in smoke at cooler temps for that much longer.[p]smoke will flavor meat at any time, and meat will taste of smoke whether or not there's a smoke ring.[p]so, colder meat, good clean woodsmoke, loewr temps (to keep the meat temp under 140 during the smoke)... those things will give you a smoke ring. while you are coming up to 140, you are not in food-safety trouble simply because the air temp is 200+, there's smoke (inhospitable to bacteria) and there's often salt in your rub. so don't panic and race to 140 too quickly.[p]by the way, nitrites in brining solutions are what turn ham pink all the way thru, same for bacon.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stike,[p]So if I can control the meat temp over a certain period of time then I should be able to control the "depth" of the smoke ring?[p]In your opinion does the thickness of a rub matter with the formation of a ring? we were putting it on thick completely covering the surface of the meat.

  • Spring ChickenSpring Chicken Posts: 9,453
    Hit 'em with a genuine Smoke Ring Gun next time LOL[p]smokeringgun.jpg[p]Hopefully they won't dock you points for "blowing smoke" LOL.[p]Glad you had a good time. Like to go one time myself.[p]Spring "One Ringie Dingie, Two Ringie Dingies..." Chicken
    Spring Texas USA

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Eric Walton,
    i suppose if you had a thick slather of mustard, and/or very (VERY!) thick rub, then it would mean that the acid would need to wick thru the mustard first (or rub) and then the meat. if you had a lot, it might mean that the meat hits 140 before your ring gets a chance to form.[p]lower meat temp, lower temp cooking environment, and you'll have a smoke ring.[p]you'll see it in turkey, and pork done on the egg at roasting temps. don't really notice it on steaks, since they get seared very hot.[p]

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stike,
    Hey not trying to steal the thread but I've heard using turbinado sugar can help aid in the production of good ring? Is that right?

  • EricEric Posts: 83
    We were using a rub with about 15% T. sugar and still had no smoke ring.[p]Looking back at the cook and reading the posts from stike I think the temp issue is the key

  • Spring ChickenSpring Chicken Posts: 9,453
    I think someone may have posted this or a similar article a few weeks ago but here's what I ran across when doing a search.[p]It's from "Barbeque Recipe Science Part I" from Ezine Articles: [p]"The Smoke Ring...[p]The smoke ring is important for aesthetic reasons, but as far as flavor is concerned, it contributes none. The smoke ring is just a chemical reaction between nitrogen dioxide and the amino acids in the meat which produce a pink color. Nitrogen dioxide is produced when wood is burned at temperatures exceeding 600 deg F. Note this is in the firebox and not your cooking chamber. The smoke ring really has nothing to do with smoke at all. The smoke will impart it’s flavor to the surface of the meat independent of the smoke ring reaction. Interestingly enough, gas grills do produce nitrogen dioxide. Some sawdust burning smokers that combust at lower temperatures do not produce nitrogen dioxide. Of course, ovens do not produce smoke rings, but what kind of jackass would cook barbecue in an oven anyway!? Note that in barbecue competitions, most judges do not know these facts and they think the smoke ring is caused by smoke and they do take that as a sign of properly smoked meats - especially brisket. So producing a good smoke ring is important."[p]Maybe this will help some.[p]Spring "Ain't Science Great" Chicken

  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,423
    <p />Eric,[p]MIM, wow. That would have been fun having a pit pass at that shindig. I can't help but wonder....and I'm just a back porch country boy and all, was someone blowing a little smoke talking about a smoke ring on a rib? I mean, I get good ones on big cuts of meat. But rib meat is so thin. I figure my entire rib is a smoke ring. I'd like to think I can push the color all the way through. Here is exhibit A. [p]2e5054de.jpg[p]

  • KingerKinger Posts: 147
    thirdeye,[p]That brisket is a thing of beauty! What kind of knife do you use for slicing?[p]Kinger
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,423
    <p />Kinger aka JNK,[p]Thanks for the kind words. A real briskateer would tell you a butter knife is all you need .... but fillet knives are what I use.[p]I either use the 12V/110V Rapala ProGuide (above) or the Kershaw with the 9" blade.[p]8a592555.jpg[p]~thirdeye~

  • amini1amini1 Posts: 105
    Eric,[p]I find that if I slightly overcook something the smoke ring sort of disappears. As an experiment try cutting off the end of a rack at 2 hours, 2.5 hours, 3 hours, etc. you'll notice a difference in the smoke ring each time. I find that paying little attention to time and more attention to the meat pullback from the bones produces better ribs. I personally would rather have a juicy slightly undercooked rib than a dryer overcooked rib. No idea what contests call for. This is just my own personal opinion.[p]Win
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