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This has cropped up today and over the past couple of weeks and we haven't covered this in depth.

So, I'll just throw this out for discussion and see where it goes.

And since I'm working on a Basic 101 for CS Oowners, I'm adding a "Smoke Ring 101".

You won't get a Smoke Ring in barbecue unless something add Nitrates/Nitrites into the process. One example is charcoal. Another is a chemical additive, such as a cure.

The ring is not caused by smoke. It's cause by a reaction to the Nitrates/nitries.

Nitrates are reduced to nitrites by bacteria found in the meat.

Nitrites in turn become nitric oxide, which cures the meat.

Thus the smoke ring COLOR comes from the meat actually being cured. Think of hams and did they get that color. Hmmmmm, doesn't a smoke ring look just like those?

I know there are lots of questions, so instead of throwing an Smokin'Okie sized post out there, I thought I'd start a discussion.

This is discussed frequently in other forums.

If you have a good source for info, please post a web URL for us to look at
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Do you have any experience producing a smoke ring with the CookShack cookers that you could tell us about? I know you use a 150, but I believe the woodbox is essentially the same, in design anyway.

Have you found a difference between briquets and lump? How much to use? Do you use charcoal at the start of the cook, or for the duration? Hints & Tips?

Here is the single best source of info on these kind of topics......The old BBQ FAQ List. Chapter 12 outlines all the science involved in BBQing.

It is a great read and some of the most informative stuff on BBQ on planet Earth.

When I started to seriously BBQ, I read this entire list over many weeks. Anazing stuff! No message boards back then, just a rudimentary e-mail system. Helped me a great deal.

I wonder how many of the newbies have read this?

There are 2 web sites referenced for additional info on smokering, but only 1 still works..I will try to track down the other site.

Hope this helps!!

Besides my 150's I own a Smokette, so I understand the small smoker as well. The 150 has 2 heating elements, the Smokette has one.

So many little time. Good Questions. I don't have all the answers...yet (I'm make a longer post later). It's a matter of time right now.

I've wondered the same about lump vs. charcoal. I've had good success with 2 lumps of charcoal, put into the beginning of the smoke. This allows the Nitrites to "do their thing". BUT, if varies a lot with the size of the brisket, the temp of the brisket to start with, etc. This sounds like one of those "smokin'" experiments I need to do to take some photos.


I agree, the FAQ is one of the oldest and still more valuable reads out there. It's just a recent topic on the CS so just doing my job to "share" the info that's out there.

Another (from the same guys) is:

The Meat and Smoke Curing FAQ

Thanks, you're always a great source of info.
When I corned my Moose for St. Paddy's Day, I only had her in the corning solution for about 9 days. Usually I go twelve or more (up to 32). When I went to smoke the meat, I had one gray spot right in the middle of the otherwise pinkish meat. Was that cuz of my short corning time? The cure didn't reach all the way thru? That's my thought, because that's exactly where the smoke ring was. Smiler
I see the FAQ often referred to as the end all BBQ info and I don't really agree. I respect those guys for what they did, it is a huge amount of work, but I find it to be a confusing mix of fact and opinion. Just reviewing the stuff about smoke ring it seems that some of them (the opinion guys)can't get away from the presumed corrolation between the color and flavor even though the fact guys are saying it doesn't exist.

I also have an opinion about all this presumed smoke penetration but that's another subject.

Now Smokin', isn't there nitrites in the wood smoke that occurs in the Cookshack from the chunks? Maybe the issue is that they burn up in a short time and there is no flame or smoke for the rest of the cook.
Andi - I'd strongly suspect the nitrite in your brine didn't get that far into the meat. Moose must be awfully dense (or just plain large) to take that long to corn. I think I've corned beef round in less than a week. Maybe, too, I've trimmed the outer fat off, which would hasten penetration. Might be worth pumping like they do for ham if you've got big moose hunks. Also, very cold temperatures slow down the reaction. And I suppose it's still pretty cold up there.

An interesting experiment in smoke ringing would be to take pieces of something like round steak or pork loin, rub with a bit of tenderquick, and stack tightly sort of like gyros meat. Let cure for a short time, like a day or so, then cook. Should give sort of a laminated red/brown look - tiger Q?

Good Opinion, keep it coming. We're a friendly forum and I like have people's opinion...without all the flaming from other forums. And for the record...I always try to tell everyone to take all of this internet information, read it, absorb it, learn from it... but what you do with it is up to you. Wink

I've been trying to research about nitrites and their presence. Since I don't have a chemical analysis background, I can't say that the wood chunks do or do not have them.

It probably does relate to the length of burn. IF you have leftover wood (hence charcoal) in your CS, leave it there for your next burn. It will create a smoke ring.

SO.....somewhere in the process of wood burning nitrites are created.

come on...there has to be a wood scientist out there somewhere.
TJR: Well, the hunk o'moose wasn't that big, but it wasn't flat like a brisket. I had no room in the fridge for this one, so I used the lower pantry floor, which wasn't as cold as I thought. The brine became ropey. Also, I only used a tsp. of saltpeter to a gallon of brine. I think it was just not brined long enough. By the time I noticed the rope, it was time to cook, anyway. Rinsed her off and she was good to go. The flavor and tenderness were not affected at all by this "spot". Razzer

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