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Thread: The Smoke Ring

  1. #21
    SmokyOkie Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by John DOH View Post
    In response to Gluedtoit's question of how the smoke flavour can reach inside the meat, I would suggest the following:

    Smoking is not just "dry heat" cooking; its a high humidity thing as well, and the water vapor will probably pick up some of the "smoke" and cause it to adhere to the meat.

    John
    My spell check says you mis- spelled flavor


    Actually though, frequently smoking is dry heat. While a lot of folks use a smoker that involves a water pan, quite do not. Neither my stickburner nor my drum uses any source of moisture other than what might exist in the well seasoned wood.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Overland Park, KS (Kansas City)
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    75

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    This is an experiment I did about smoke ring formation earlier this year. I figured I would share this in case anyone found anything interesting or useful from it. I was mostly surprised about the ash myself, the rest went as I suspected it would. I had to condense multiple posts, so I indicated where each individual post started by a date/time stamp.

    ----------------------------------------
    (posted 2/26/2008)
    This experiment is to test some various methods of making BBQ meat to see what impact, if any, each method has on the smoke ring formed in the meat.

    I have read so many different ideas about how/why smoke rings are formed, and it is difficult to be sure which ones are right. There is a web page which I think might have the most complete plausible explanation, and that page is http://www.geocities.com/senortoad/SmokeRinginBarbequeMeats.htm

    Now, in addition to some of what is described in that link, many of the things I have heard around the BBQ community about smoke rings and it's formation are things like:

    1. The smoke ring shows the depth of smoke penetration into the meat.
    2. It is how to tell meat has really been smoked and not cooked in an oven.
    3. It is formed by wood ash landing on the meat.
    4. Stops forming after meat has been on for X number of hours.
    5. Stops forming after meat has reached a certain temperature (usually 140 is what I hear).
    6. Stops forming when the pathways in the meat become clogged (from rub and/or soot).
    7. The smoke ring is what gives meat it's smoky flavor.
    8. Cooking meat in a gas oven can form a smoke ring.

    My experience tells me that some of those above are definitely not correct, and I also believe some others may not be correct but have only experience to make me feel that way and no direct evidence.

    So I plan to do some experiments that should shed some light on many questions about smoke ring formation. I am not planning to glean insight to all questions about smoke ring formation in this one weekend, but this weekend should demonstrate a number of smoke ring facts and misconceptions.

    I am going to be cooking 16 pieces of pork in 3 different cookers. Each piece of pork will be a quarter block of a deboned pork shoulder butt. I will quarter 4 butts to get the 16 pieces. These should be of sufficient size to make a good test, yet small enough to not be so wasteful I begin to question why the hell I'm doing all this.

    Two of the cookers will be WSM's running on wood chunks and charcoal briquettes. One WSM will have a water pan to make a moist cooking environment, and the other will use a sand pan to have a drier cooking environment. Each will be cooking at approximately 250-275 degress. The third cooker will be a gas oven set to the same temps that the cookers are running at.

    On each of the WSM's I will place 6 pieces of meat prepared the following ways. The only difference between the 2 WSM's will be the moist vs dry environments.

    1. Plain, no treatment of any kind before or during the cook.
    2. Brined for 24 hours prior to cooking.
    3. Plain, but spritzed with apple juice every 45 minutes during cooking.
    4. Rubbed overnight before cooking.
    5. Slather and rub applied overnight before cooking.
    6. Brined for 24 hours, then slathered and rubbed overnight, and spritzed with water every 45 minutes during cooking.

    In the oven I will place 4 pieces of meat prepared the following ways:

    1. Plain, no treatment of any kind before or during the cook.
    2. Rub of Morton Tenderquick Cure applied to meat before cooking.
    3. Slather of liquid smoke and rub of Morton Tenderquick Cure applied to meat before cooking.
    4. Rub of wood ash applied before cooking (it will not be eaten though).

    What should be demonstrated by all this:

    1. What differences, if any, are there in smoke ring formation between a wet and dry cooking environment?
    2. Does applying extra moisture to the meat with mop/spritz or brining affect the smoke ring compared to not using these techniques, and is one method better than the other?
    3. Do rubs, slathers, or mops/spritzes clog up the meat pores reducing depth of smoke ring compared to meats that do not use these techniques?
    4. Does cooking in a gas oven form a smoke ring?
    5. Can a smoke ring be formed in meat cooked in a smoke-free gas oven?
    6. Can smokey flavored meats with a smoke ring be produced in a smoke-free gas oven?
    7. Does wood ash contribute to smoke ring development?

    Questions that are not answered in this experiment, but I hope to answer in a future experiment are:

    1. Does the smoke ring represent the penetration of smoke flavor into the meat?
    2. Does smoke ring formation stop after meat has been cooking for a certain amount of time, or when it reaches a certain temperature?
    3. Can meat with no smoke ring taste smokey?

    (posted 2/28/2008)
    I started today. I made up some brine earlier today of 1 cup salt to 1 gallon of water, boiling to dissolve the salt. I then let it cool down and chilled in the refrigerator for several hours.

    I got the four butts at Sams Club which come packaged 2 butts together in cryovac. I made sure to pick ones where both butts looked the same size, and the total weight between both packages was the same. I found two packages at roughly 15 pounds each where the butts looked the same size in each.

    Here are the butts from the first package before...


    ...and after deboning and quartering.


    I took the four pieces in the left of the above photo and put each in a ziploc with some of the brine. I then pushed all the air out of the bag, sealed it up and tossed in the fridge. I took the other 4 pieces on the right and wrapped them back up real tight and put back in the fridge. I will use those pieces for rubbing and slathering tomorrow night.

    (posted 2/29/2008 20:19 CST)
    This evening I cleaned up my kettle grill real good, then lit up a chimney of cherry chunks. I dumped the chunks in the kettle and filled in with more cherry, and let it go with inlets open and lid off until they had burned down to coals. Then I put the lid on so the ashes wouldn't get blown around overnight. Tomorrow morning I should be able to get me some pure cherry wood ash.

    Twenty four hours after putting the 4 pieces in brine, I took them out along with the other 4 pieces I quartered up last night. Here's what they looked like. The brined ones are the 4 on the left.


    I bagged up 2 of the brined ones and put back in the fridge. Then I applied slather to the other 2 brined pieces, and to 2 of the plain pieces. Here's a photo after the slather. The 2 brined ones are on the left.


    Then I applied rub to all 6 of these pieces. Even though I had blotted dry the brined pieces, they really took on a lot of rub, and I mean a whole lot. Here's a photo after the rub. The 2 on the left are the brined, slathered and rubbed, the middle 2 are slathered and rubbed, and the 2 on the right only have rub.


    Hopefully I'll be able to provide updates tomorrow as the experiment progresses. It's a busy weekend though, so I may not be as timely as I would wish to be. I will take pictures though.

    --------------------------------------------------

    I had to break this in to 2 posts as the text was too long!
    Last edited by bigabyte; 12-09-2008 at 10:51 PM.
    Chris Baker
    Mad BBQ Scientist

    Two Irishmen walk out of a bar...

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    San Jose, California, United States
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    Thanks for the post Chris,
    Interesting about the ash smoke ring.Very informative stuff!
    Paul

    CBBQA
    18.5 Weber Smokey Joe Platinum
    22.5 Weber One Touch
    Ugly Drum

  4. #24
    SmokyOkie Guest

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    That's a book.

    Bottom line , however is that the smoke ring is a chemical reaction with nitrites/ nitrates with the myoglobin of the meat, and that smoke ring really has nothing to do with flavor?

    We know that nitrites and nitrates have a color changing effect on meat being as that's what makes ham and corned beef pink.

    next question....what effects do all the variables have on beef?.....poultry?....


    Thanx for the info biggie!

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Overland Park, KS (Kansas City)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmokyOkie View Post
    next question....what effects do all the variables have on beef?.....poultry?....
    I knew someone would ask that! It's hard to make everyone happy. Heck, even after posting htis on some other places I got some messages asking me if I thought using a vertical like a WSM had an effect on the results, or the lifting of the lid to spritz.

    As for the smoke FLAVOR, my general comeback on that question is what happens if you smoke a corned beef, pastrami, bacon or cured ham? Does it taste smokey? Since it has no smoke ring, how did that smoke taste get there?
    Chris Baker
    Mad BBQ Scientist

    Two Irishmen walk out of a bar...

  6. #26
    SmokyOkie Guest

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    All of them are injected with brine that has liquid smoke in it?

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Overland Park, KS (Kansas City)
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    Crapola. The second thread has too many photos for me to change it so it displays all the pics.

    You may notice that the pics got pretty blurry at that point. I can't remember what exactly I did wrong but I had the camera set on a setting that basically caused the pics to go pretty bad. I didn't notice until much later. You can still see the meat and smoke rings, just not very pretty pics is all.

    Tomorrow sometime I may come back and delete these and report so that I can get all the text and pics in.
    Chris Baker
    Mad BBQ Scientist

    Two Irishmen walk out of a bar...

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Aldergrove B.C.
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    holy chit folks, great read, thats why this site is the best
    Life @ Home Party Grill
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    probally every acces. and gadget known to man
    Fat Family BBQ Team Banner

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Overland Park, KS (Kansas City)
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    (posted 3/1/2008 11:08 CST)
    The meat is on! I got probably a little over a cup of cherry ash which was more than sufficient.

    I took the other cryovac of butts to debone and quarter.


    Here they are deboned and quartered. The 4 on the left will be the pieces I use in the oven, and the 4 on the right will be used in the WSM's for the plain pieces and the spritzed pieces.


    I got the WSM's synchronized at 275 with Kingsford charcoal and cherry chunks, and set the gas oven for the same temp. For the pieces cooking in the oven, I took half-size aluminum pans and made a HD foil divider to keep two pieces seperately while they cook.

    In ths picture are 2 of the oven pieces. The one on the right is the plain piece, and the one on the left has a rub of 1 tbsp Tenderquick.


    In this picture are the other 2 oven pieces. The one on the right got a thin layer of liquid smoke and then a rub of 1 tbsp Tenderquick. I think you can guess what is on the one on the left. Doesn't it look *****?


    In this picture are the 6 pieces that went in the WSM with the water pan. On the top row from left to right are Plain, Spritzed, Brined. On the bottom row from left to right are Rubbed, Slather+Rub, Brine+Slather+Rub+Spritz.


    And this last picture is the 6 pieces going in the WSM with the sand pan. On the top row from left to right are Plain, Spritzed, Brined. On the bottom row from left to right are Rubbed, Slather+Rub, Brine+Slather+Rub+Spritz.


    I will begin spritzing the pieces that get spritz beginning at the 3 hour mark, and spritz them every 45 minutes with Members Mark Apple Juice.

    More updates as I get them and can post them.

    (continued due to text and image limitations)
    Chris Baker
    Mad BBQ Scientist

    Two Irishmen walk out of a bar...

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Overland Park, KS (Kansas City)
    Posts
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    (posted 3/1/2008 21:59 CST)
    The results are in!!!

    Pieces came off at different times over the course of about 45 minutes, but I had a system to keep everything organized and when all the pieces were ready I was able to process them systematically. This is a good thing because when I took the pictures off my camera I found I had only taken 14 photos, so I missed taking photos of two pieces. Because of the system I was able to quickly identify exactly which pieces did not get pictures. It was the Dry Brined piece and the Wet Brined piece.

    The system I had to keep everything in order was to put toothpicks in the pieces in each cooker to identify which ones they were. Then when taking pieces off of the cooker, I had three different pans to put them in, so only pieces from the same cooker wound up in a pan. Then from the number of toothpicks in each piece in the pan I knew exactly what cooker and what piece it was. Then when evaluating them I did them in a specific order by cooker and number of toothpicks and wrote down the results for that cooker and piece number.

    The pictures were taken as I processed the pieces, so they followed that same order, and I also included the toothpicks in the photos for identification if needed. It's a good thing I did because this is how I was able to figure out which pieces I had forgotten to take photos of.

    OK, I know you are itching for the results, here they are. All pieces were cooked to between 195 and 200 degrees. The cookers were running at 275 throughout the cooking process. to measure the smoke ring, I sliced each piece in half and took the measurement of the smoke ring at its thickest point that was not a corner or gouge/cavity.

    WSM w/Water Pan - Plain
    1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Boring flavorwise.


    WSM w/Water Pan - Spritzed
    1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Boring flavorwise.


    WSM w/Water Pan - Brined
    1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted rather good actually.
    (sorry, no photo)

    WSM w/Water Pan - Rubbed
    3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted good.


    WSM w/Water Pan - Slathered and Rubbed
    3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted good.


    WSM w/Water Pan - Brined, Slathered, Rubbed and Spritzed
    3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted better than the others.


    (continued due to text and image limitations)
    Chris Baker
    Mad BBQ Scientist

    Two Irishmen walk out of a bar...

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