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Smoke ring throughout the meat?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I posted this late last night in an existing thread. I saw what I did today and decided to move it here. Sorry, I was really too tired to be awake anymore. So here it is:

I'm not sure why, but when I smoke pork, if I smoke the length of time and run for the total cook time I think it should take I don't get a ring. It is mostly pink throughout, with a slight grey at the very center, but only in places. The first few smokes I did spooked me: Is it done? Feels right, but looks raw!

This happens with my ribs, the recent butts I've done, even pork loin. The temp reached was done and the texture indicated it was done. It may be that the smoke charactoristics of the Mesquite impart more Nitrogen Dioxide, thereby producing more Nitric Acid in the meat. I'm not sure if the cook times I've been running could allow this to soak clear through to the center or not, maybe. The pink at times is penetrating over 2" into the meat. This does seem a bit excessive to me, but the flavor is not too heavy when this happens. Here's the thing, I always smoke with Mesquite for pork, and ocassionally I add apple, maybe some plum, but the bulk of the smoke is Mesquite.

Here's one theory: I run alot lower smoker temps than most folks do, and lower than most folks at SMF would recommend. I'm talking 185-200, most of the time, then sometimes a bit higher. I may turn it up to 225 towards the end just to finish the food in time for the party, whatever. With fatties I run about 275-300 because my internals are usually precooked anyway.

Here's a couple for the folks who are in the know, 'cause I'm not sure about this one:

OK, so, if the meat is heating up slower, could it allow the pink coloring to occur at greater depth because the meat hasn't cooked yet while the chemical reaction is trying to continue?

Is the deeper pink coloring caused by slower cooking and lower heat, or from the type of wood and lenght of smoke?

Maybe there's more to this than meets the eye. Anyone?

post #2 of 20
I recently smoked a Tri Tip at 180 using mesquite, and i didn't notice any difference in the smoke ring. I usually smoke them at 225, so I would've noticed any change. I do know some wood types can give a slightly different color to meats.
post #3 of 20
Thanks for the tip. I often get the same results with my pork if I don't watch the temps carefully and they drop a little. But when the thermometer says it's done it's done, regardless Of what it looks loke to me. After all trichinosis is a thing of the past. Or I hope so.
post #4 of 20
Right there with ya eric.....happens to me occationaly, not all the time, eventually some of the pros here will come a runnin and answere the call.
post #5 of 20
What is in your rub and how long do you apply the rub before you start cooking?
post #6 of 20
Same thing happens to me with pork and more so when there's little to no fluctuation in the temperature. The marinade/rub that I use makes no difference in the smoke ring. Check out my avatar; I think that's what you're describing.


Edit: Let me also add that I run pork ribs between 225 and 250 degrees so that should take care of your 185 to 200 degree theory.

post #7 of 20
Do you use mesquite also?
post #8 of 20
Not always. For that particular rib smoke I used hickory.

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
My rub as of late has dried ground red bell pepper (to sweeten 'em up), along with my usuall other spices. I don't think the bell's causing this though, as I've been seeing this for close to 3 years.

Edit: I usually go straight into a low-temp or cool smoker within 5-10 minutes of rub application. Not much resting time. Starts cooking really slow though so it still is getting more resting than just tossing in on a hot smoker.

Low, low, really low cook temps, I think.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
OK, so were getting somewhere here, 'cause I thought low temps, but must be just that it is a good steady temp. That's a good thing, right?

post #11 of 20
Eric, I don't have a scientific explanation only personal theories. I'd say it's a combination of ideal temperature for the ideal amount of time plus airflow and smoke -- basically the mecca of smoking meat.

I've read somewhere that smoke rings are the result of NO2 (could be wrong on that though). It supposedly chemically alters the pigments found in meat so I'd say the deeper the smoke ring, the more smoke penetration you achieved.

All in all, If you're getting a good smoke ring, you're probably doing a dang good job with the temps, times, etc... At the end of the day, it tastes good which speaks volumes more than science. cool.gif

post #12 of 20
I get the pink meat as well and I am running in the 190 - 200 range lately. In my case it's not intentional, I have to correct a poor draft problem.

Makes me think of the meat we used to cook in the crock pot. That meat always came out looking pretty red too.
post #13 of 20
Smoke rings are HIGHLY overated....doesn't mean nothing.

Not sure i understand your question but your putting cold meat in a cold cooker and cooking at what i think is TOO low of a temp, of course your gonna have a deep ring. Theres no science behind it!

You can cook anything using the right temp and proper smoking techniques and get the same flavor as that deep ring you get!
post #14 of 20
I agree with you about the flavor but we're trying to figure out why some get more of a smoke ring than others. Not saying it's good or bad technique or skills. Just popping the big question.... WHY? I think we debunked the type of wood and the temperature so that leaves time and airflow.

It'd be interesting to know.
post #15 of 20
Smokering is the combination of meat temp, cooking temps and time. It is the nitrates and nitrites in smoke passing over the surface of the meat until it reaches aprox 140 degrees internal, that's the science in a nut shell. The pigment of the meat turns shades of pink because of the process. You are setting up conditions where the process is working overtime.
post #16 of 20
Eric, if you're still following along, I'd have to attribute it to the airflow based on what's been eliminated so far. Nitrogen is the most plentiful gas in our atmosphere so maybe it's all about good airflow (and subsequently rapid burn times) coupled with having the meat a good distance from the coals (as is my case). I still achieve the correct cooking temps but have more airflow - especially when I use my coal grating.

Before any of you jump me, let me repeat that this doesn't speak for the flavor or quality of the end product. It's only a possible explanation for why some smokers produce deep rings and other little to none. One of these days I'm going to set up an experiment and post the results.

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
First off, I don't intentionally try to get rings this deep, it just happens. Seems to happen alot for me, like nearly always. Seems like it happens to some others here too and they are curious about it as well.

Second, if I'm cooking at TOO low of temp, should I be concerned about the 40-140 degree meat temp being too long, even though the meat is brined when processed?

As far as technique, I'm only using what has worked well for me for the last several years. I always figured that the lower and slower the better, to a point.

I'm changing a few things for the better since I joined the forum here at SMF. I think we all have a few things to learn, and we can share our experiences to help others learn from what we have done. Shoot, that's what we are here for anyway, right? Hey, it's all good.

post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
Yes, I'm back again. Air flow. Must need pretty much a perfect balance of smoke intensity, temperature, air flow, and, distance from the heat source. Now, this could be right on the money here. With more distance it could allow for a more thorough distribution of the NO2 with the other gases present, thereby giving it a more continuous contact with the meat.

What da ya think?

post #19 of 20
Yes you should be. The meat shouldn't stay in the temperature range for much more then 4 hours. I'd especially worry with pork and poultry. Food borne bacteria thrive in that temperature range.

That is why people people smoke in the 225-250 temperature range as it allows the meat to get to 140 within that time.

I can't imagine at 185 degrees a pork butt would get to 140 within 4 hours. I think you are just creating a potentially dangerous situation for no reason.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've done OK with ribs in the GOSM at generally not over 200 and more recently in my modded converted Brinkmann SNP, though when I did 2 butts I put them on the warmer end of the rack and my temps actually were up over 140 in less than 4 hours, maybe luck there but I was watching the probe/time pretty close. I think the butts were at 38 when they hit the rack, that's when my time started.

My main reason for the lower temp is for keeping it juicy and moist, but I guess that I could still do OK at higher temps and cut the time alot to boot. I do see where you're coming from here, may as well not risk it.

Thanks Ron

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