Barbecue Defined

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Barbecue - Streetside BBQ

The trademarks of barbecue are smoke flavor and low and slow cooking. Despite people insisting upon calling what they do on their gas grill “barbecuing,” the practices behind barbecue and grilling are at odds: Grilling means hot and fast cooking and barbecue is the opposite.

Barbecue requires patience at just about every step of the cooking process, from adding a dry rub to the meat before it’s cooked, to letting the meat rest before its cut.

Cooking meat slowly, at low temperatures (255-250 degreees) is what makes tough meat tender. Slow cooking gives meat’s fat time to render and its connective tissue time to break down. Both processes lead to softer, easier to chew and more mouthwatering cooked meats

Without smoke, there is no barbecue. Smoking means adding seasoned hardwood to a fire so that it heats up and smokes, releasing its flavor into the meat.

The smoke flavor that ends up in your ribs or brisket depends on the wood you use; pecan is going to give a flavor much different from apple.

You add wood usually in the form of chunks or smaller chips that have been chopped and dried for the express purpose of flavoring your barbecue. You could also run around your backyard or neighborhood picking up sticks from under your oak tree and throw those onto the fire.

One of the trademarks of slow-smoked meat is the pink ring and in many cases, a pink trace throughout the meat. The ring around the edges of the meat comes about because of the gases released from the smoking wood, which react with the muscle tissue to create the color. A pink trace in deeper areas arises because of the way the proteins within the meat unfold at lower temperatures. Cook at high temperatures, and the meat’s color seeps out early, but when the meat creeps up on the temperature required to loosen the pigment, the color has nowhere to go because the other elements of the meat have already settled in and shut themselves off.

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