Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Oct 3, 2006 05:46 PM

All about the BBQ Smoke Ring

A poster on the SF board asked what a barbeque smoke ring is. Looking for a good definition I came across this really great article about smoke rings, that pink color found around the edge of some slow-smoked meats.

It explains the chemical process going on, throwing around words like myoglobin and nitrosylhemochrome, but is understandable. It says

"When a smoke ring develops in barbecue meats it is not because smoke has penetrated and colored the muscle, but rather because gases in the smoke interact with the pigment myoglobin."

There can be smoke rings in products that are not smoked and a heavily smoked meat might not have a smoke ring.

I did have this perfect chicken once that was all smoke ring down to the bone. It was not only uber-delicious but a chick of beauty.

Pictures of smoke rings:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. aha. No wonder I've sometimes gotten smoke rings around pork tenderloin! Thanks for the info, as always.

    1. I think I ought to carry my McGee around with me just so I can know exactly why I love the foods I do!

      I remember biting into some perfect falling-off-the-bone ribs and wonderig by they looked medium rare- later I learned about the magic pink ring.... mmmmmmm!

      1. Personally, I'd be skeptical of meat that's got a solid smoke ring all the way to the bone. Nitrites also yield that rosy red tint, and meat that's uniformly colored sets off red (ahem) flags.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Professor Salt

          Nah, just lucky. Right time, right place. Not that type of place. I haven't ordered the chicken since because it was so perfect I know that I would be disappointed and I want the memory.

        2. I've always said that a blind person should be able to perfectly judge bbq. Don't be deceived by pink or gray colors; you've got to be able to taste the rich flavor of the melted fat, the wood smoke bite, the tang of the cooked-on spices, feel the exterior crunch, and revel in the suppleness of the meat.

          And in lieu of those, for God's sake at least come up with a kickin' sauce you can pour all over it and make it a tasty mess anyway.

          1. Hear, hear, Steve. When I've been lucky enough to find really good smokehouse bbq, frequently found by my patented bbq radar, I am enjoying myself too much for pleasantries like aesthetics.
            The OP mentioned the SF board, the Bay Area is the home of many really great places. In particular the East Bay has Flint's, Doug's and Everett and Jones...all truely great places.