Back in the days almost all BBQ food was cooked with the wood logs to generate HEAT (to cook) & SMOKE (to flavor). And we believe that smoked meat cooked at ‘Smoking Temperature’ is the healthiest food any one can get in this world.
WOOD SMOKED MEAT (FEATURES)
1. Smoke Ring
Its the basic identification of any smoked meat and is considered ‘HALLMARK’. The smoke ring is a region of pink-colored meat in the outermost 8-10 millimeters of smoked meats. No smoke ring means that it’s not smoked the way it should have been smoked.
A Protein in meat called myoglobin is responsible for the color in meat, and we often associate red or pink coloring with the best meats. Beef is much redder than mutton, lamb and due to this fact it has about four times more myoglobin.
The smoke ring involves the chemistry of nitric oxide from burning wood combining with myoglobin in meat to form nitrosyl hemochromogen, the same pigment found in cured meats.
This is why you do not see this phenomenon in meats cooked in the oven since there is no source of nitric oxide in this environment.
Wood Smoke has close to 100 compounds. Some of these compounds exist as solids, others as gases and still others exist as liquids such as oils.
2. Bark (Polymerization & Maillard Reaction)
The bark is formed through two chemical processes, Polymerization, and the Maillard Reaction.
Everything starts when moisture from the meat and water vapor from the smoke dissolve the water-soluble ingredients in the rub.
Salt penetrate past the surface of the meat, which is part of the process of getting the smoke ring. Other rub ingredients (herbs, granulated spices etc) are too big and will rest on top where they slowly melt and dissolve in the fat that bubbles to the surface.
Bark is formed when you put perfectly seasoned meat with smoke, water vapor and just the right amount of heat for hours on end until you are left with mouthwatering meat heaven.
The dry rubs, the type of wood used, and the amount of fat on the meat all factor into the chemical equation that results in BARK formation.
It is something that all pit masters and barbecue fanatics live for.
Cooking low & slow always slows the Maillard Reaction and prevents caramelization of the sugars in the rub. The rub that remained on the surface has been sitting in the warmed and liquefied fats from the meat. This causes an intense boost in the flavor profiles of those spices which is why bark has such incredible flavor. The smoke sticks to the dissolved rub on the meat and changes the color of the bark through the process of smoking, until it has reached that rich dark color.
Pellicle is a thin membrane that forms between the meat’s surface and the rub. Pellicle is permanent and cannot be dissolved. It will not form on fat, although bark will. Pellicle is the perfect surface on which bark will form, it occurs when meat proteins clump together while cooking Low & Slow.
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