BBQ Cooking

Controlling your meat cooking-smoking temperature over a long period of time is an important step to making Great BBQ. Meat Cooking Temperatures

BBQ cooking times will vary depending on the type BBQ smoker used as well as other factors, such as weather conditions, wind, and ambient temperature. These variables can change the BBQ cooking time by as much as an hour or more.

BBQ Cooking Temperatures

The Cooking Process
How different meat cooks depends for the most part on their protein content (the fiber of the meat). Proteins consist of amino acids that are chemically bonded to form long fibers, which are in turn bundled together with connective tissue to form the muscle of the animal.

When heated muscle fibers begin to shrink and become progressively harder, crack and crumbly. This process starts at 130F (55C) and continues up through about 175F (80C).

At 150F (66C) the connective tissue – called collagen – that is holding the protein fibers together begins to break down and turn into gelatin. This is the alchemy that makes great BBQ, and in traditional cooking its called braising.

When the meat is heated very slowly in a moist environment, the proteins do not tighten up as much, although the meat does get firm. Then when the internal temperature of the meat slowly climbs above 150F (66C) and starts approaching 170F (77C), something magical happens. Inside the moist interior of the meat, protected by a rich darkening crust “bark”, the collagen starts to break down and the meat starts loosening up. The fibers relax. Juice that was squeezed out of the tissue earlier in the cooking process gets reabsorbed. Fat between the meat fibers liquefies and combines with gelatin to create a rich primordial broth, basting the meat from the inside. The end result is real barbecue- the most tender, juicy, succulent meat you will ever taste.

Cooking Tips:
* Cook by the internal temperature of the meat not the time in the smoker.
* As the meat rests the core temperature will rise, especially in larger cuts.
* Remove from smoker a few degrees below your target temperature.

BBQ Meats

This slow cooking technique works best with meats with high fat content, especially meat with lots of connective tissue such as pork shoulder and beef briskets. Leaner cuts of meat simply can’t hold up to this process.

Also see:
Meat Types & Cuts - Grades of Meat

The Smoke Ring The bright pink ring is evidence of the penetration of the aromatics into the meat. The more pronounced the smoke ring the better! The reddish color is caused by nitrogen compounds in the smoke reacting with myoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in muscle tissue. Nitrates not only color the meat but act as a preservative, inhibiting bacterial growth. The red smoke ring is a good thing and should not be mistaken for raw uncooked meat.

Also see:
BBQ Smoking Secrets - Types of Smoke Woods