In barbecuing I have found that in just about any case I
can think of, you will get better results if you let your
meat rise to room temperature before you put in the
smoker or on the grill.
Say you have a good rib eye steak, maybe even a
bone-in rib eye, or a juicy New York strip that you are
putting on for the guests. First you will most likely want
to add a rub or marinade to the meat. If you want that
rub or marinade to be on there a while, then you will
have to add it to the meat and then place the meat
back in the fridge. Don't forget to take it back out in
time to warm up! You will have to calculate this time
into your cooking equation. One of the most popular
cooking techniques for that steak is to sear it on the
grill right at the beginning, at a high grill temperature.
In my experience, the colder that steak is, the less
effective that sear is going to be. And if your first ten
minutes of cooking consists of thawing the steak out,
your cooking of the meat may end up very difficult - too
much on the outside, where it has been closely
exposed to the heat, and to little on the inside where
the heat has not had time to penetrate. Don't confuse
this with a easy way to cook a rare steak. I love my
steak on the rare to medium rare side, but over doing
the outside will cancel out the desired flavor of that
Along very similar lines, say you are smoking some
baby back ribs, or a big Boston butt for friends and
neighbors. As we go over in the section on the critical
first hour of our smoking technique, when that meat
hits the smoker, you will want your favorite flavor of
smoke to begin curling around it and curing it right
away. This starts the famous smoke ring in the meat!
The depth of this ring, and the corresponding amount
of smoke flavor you get into your creation, depends a
lot on how long it is exposed to a certain quantity of
smoke. In our technique the vast majority of the
flavoring takes place in the first hour. And from what
we have found, the colder the meat is, the less the
smoke can penetrate it.
Different meats can warm up our of the refrigerator for
different amounts of time. I usually will let steak sit out
a little longer than I would pork. Even less time out for
fish or chicken.
You're not talking a great deal of time here, depending
on how cold it has gotten in the fridge, but it will make
a big difference.
|Two slabs of our favorite
baby backs getting up to
Temperature plays a HUGE part in how
good your barbeque will be. There are
some "BBQ Pittmasters" out there that debate
what that temperature should be, but it is
critical for your barbecue.
There are two types of temperature that I focus
on - the temperature of the meat, and the
temperature of the cooker.
This may be the single most important part of cooking good meat that I know of. If you get this one right
I think you are on your way to barbecuing glory!
First , you gotta have a gauge - if you don't have one that comes
as part of your cooker, you can either add one (kinda difficult) or
get an oven thermometer. The oven thermometer makes it hard
not to violate one of my creeds, "If you're lookin', you ain't cookin'",
but since the temperature is so critical I would give you a pass
on this one!
Second, you probably want to get a meat thermometer - yes, one
that you insert into the meat to find the internal temperature. As
much as I hate to pierce a piece of smoking meat - and thus
create an avenue for all those succulent juices to escape - a
meat thermometer is the only fool proof way to tell if your creation
is ready for prime time. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for
use, insertion point, and temperature for the how done a given
meat is at that temperature.
Back to the cooker. It is my firm and continuing belief that you to
get the best meat you need to cook at the right temperature. If
you are grilling, by definition you want higher heat. Commercial
kitchens will likely sear, broil, and cook your steak at
temperatures as high as 1700`F. Depending on your equipment,
that is likely higher than you can achieve. But you can start it very
high - 600`F or so, and then go from there, even letting the grill
cool a bit as you go, and get great results.
With a smoker, again by definition, you are cooking "low and
slow". In my experience, best results are achieved by keeping
the smoker between 200`F - 250`F. My ideal smoking
temperature is 225`F - the picture of the smoker gauge at right,
snapped during a live smoke, shows -despite a little poor
photography - the gauge to be right around 225`F. Keep the
temperature there as closely as you can, and spend the time
necessary to cook the meat properly, and you can hardly help but
be rewarded with some excellent barbeque!
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