A smoke ring is often considered the hallmark of every great BBQ, but is it really healthy for you? Here are the reasons why you should not want a smoke ring on your food.
Many notable pit masters and barbecue restaurants achieve this smoke ring with ease, and it’s the goal for many backyard chefs as well. The smoke ring is a region of pink-colored meat in the outermost 8-10 millimetres of smoked meats. For instance, it appears most commonly in smoked chicken, beef, and pork.
This is not only regarding the process of food smoking but reaching the desired flavor to deliver a healthier meal for you and your family.
Why Does a Smoke Ring Occur?
The pinkish color in meat is due to the presence of a compound called myoglobin. This compound typically darkens and turns brown when heated above a certain temperature.
This is why the perimeter of a cooked steak is darker in color than the red inside. The reason is because the lower temperature of the middle of the steak was not sufficient to cause the myoglobin to lose its pigment.
When smoking meat, a different process occurs than in other cooking methods. Organic fuels such as wood and charcoal, when burned to ash, produce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gas.
When this gas dissolved into the meat, it reacts with the hydrogen molecules and becomes nitric oxide (NO). The NO combined with the myoglobin form a stable pink molecule that does not denature in the heat. The depth of the smoke ring is determined by how far the smoke can permeate into the meat.
What Happens in a Smoker
There are several considerations when smoking meat that will determine the extent at which a smoke ring will form. However, the most important factor is the fuel source and that source’s production of NO.
The highest concentrations of atmospheric NO can be achieved in a smoker through the utilization of charcoal briquets or wood fires; both of which are capable of producing up to 200ppm (parts per million) NO.
You can also use it in the cooking chamber. It has been suggested that greener woods produce more NO but are less suitable for cooking.
Why should you not want a Smoke Ring on your food?
It is a reaction of NO2 coming in contact with myoglobin, a protein found in meat. There is no flavor, and there is no benefit of seeing this ring of red in meat other than the evidence that you and your family are ingesting high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide.
It can be a high volume of NO2 when you are cooking your food using a enclose grill like a pellet grill, wood burning grill, or a Kamado grill.
The exception for wood and charcoal
There is no problem cooking using wood or charcoal on an open-air grill because the NO2 has very little chance of accumulating on your food. This is the same with offset grills where the wood and charcoal are burnt offset of the food being cooked. This is because the majority of the NO2 is discharged before it has a chance to impart into the food being cooked.
The best combination for your flavor
For best results, use sawdust! Food smokers that use this fuel can make great tasting food. For that to happen, you must remove the wood before it goes to charcoal. So, you must keep an eye on your smoker, and remove the sawdust when it is blackening all the way through, replace it with sawdust and continue your smoke. Certainly, do not leave it to turn to ash or you know the outcome.
Why Bradley Smokers deliver the purest smoke
How the smoke is generated
The taste of smoke food is achieved by only using the finest sawdust of different woods available, which is my choice for Bradley Wood Smoking Bisquettes. The size, shape, and weight of Bisquettes have the same exact standards every time. And it will never burn down to ash!
That is why every bisquette is burned at the same temperature, for the same amount of time. And each bisquette is extinguished by water when is finished. This process makes you the finest smoked food possible. Free of the nasty NO2 gas!
The only smoker in the world that consistently makes the cleanest smoke flavor without NO2 gaseous buildup in your food is the Bradley Smoker. When you use a Bradley you not only taste the difference, but you will see the difference. There is no red chemical smoke ring in your food.
Stay tuned on our blog for our next articles with more food smoking facts, tips and tricks.
Happy Smoking to you all!