At BBQ Island, we like to teach our customers all we can about the ins and outs of good grilling and scrumptious smoking. There's a lot to learn, which is why we offer master classes and are happy to spend as long as you want with our floor models to show you every last feature.
Every now and then, we also like to answer your burning questions. This one's a doozy: What's the deal with the smoke ring?
What Is a Smoke Ring, Anyway?
If you've spent time with grill guys and barbecue aficionados, you've probably heard them speak reverently of the the elusive smoke ring. The smoke ring is a strip of bright pink that's nestled between the crispy outer bark and the cooked center of any meat that's cooked low and slow. It's a traditional sign that a barbecue master has gotten the right heat levels and allows the meat to cook for hours and hours, and when you see it, you're led to expect melt in your mouth goodness and plenty of smoky flavor.
But here's a funny fact about the smoke ring: You don't actually need smoke to make one. The pink color is formed by gases in the smoke — nitrogen and carbon dioxide — interacting with the meat's cellular structure. The gases help preserve the meat's red myoglobin before the meat is cooked inside, so you end up with a layer that stays nice and pink. You can do this by adding gases, water or salt to help speed along the chemical reaction to get a thicker smoke ring.
So Does the Smoke Ring Enhance Flavor?
Nope! That's the funny thing about it: A great smoke ring looks amazing, but it's not the part that tastes smoky. That's caused by flavor compounds penetrating the meat, and it does this throughout the cut.
Got more tough BBQ questions? Come by BBQ Island for answers!