Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

The Grill Lab

The Science of the Smoke Ring

The Science of the Smoke Ring

The smoke ring is the red badge of honor of great barbecue. Many of you smoke fiends have seen it up close—that prized layer of pink under the bark (crust) in slow-smoked meats. But what is it really and what causes it? The explanation lies within the meat itself. First, a simple meat chemistry lesson. Myoglobin is the protein that gives meat its red color. Beef has about four times as much myoglobin as pork, giving it a much redder color. And chicken thighs...

Read more →

Umami—This Ancient Asian Taste Can Help You Up Your Game at the Grill

Umami—This Ancient Asian Taste Can Help You Up Your Game at the Grill

Welcome to the second installment of The Grill Lab, where we explore the science behind skillful grilling and barbecuing. The topic today: umami. Umami (pronounced “oo-mah-me”) has been grabbing a lot of attention in the food world recently (consider the national expansion of the Los Angeles-based Umami Burger chain and the recent launch of Umami Barbecue). Closer to home, a growing number of grill and pit masters are talking umami in the context of barbecue and using the concept to score big at competitions. So what exactly is...

Read more →

The Science of Brining

The Science of Brining

Photo of brined turkey by Flickr user austinmatherne Believe it or not, brining is a hotly debated topic. (Does the barbecue world ever agree on anything?) Some people swear by it, while others scoff at the effort and time it can take (as little as 15 minutes or as long as several weeks). But nobody can dispute this: Brining makes meat juicier. Why? It’s in the science. Lean meats, like chicken breasts, pork chops, shrimp, or fish fillets, trip up many...

Read more →