Does Good Brisket Need a Smoke Ring? Let’s Clear the Air

Where does that smoke ring come from?

By Alain StephensApril 7, 2016 3:18 pm| ,

Lots of folks claim that if you wanna eat the good stuff, you gotta have that smoke ring. It’s that bit of pink that’s just under the bark in slow-smoked meats. This ring has actually become a little red badge of honor in the barbecue industry. But does that really equate to great brisket?

Where there’s smoke there’s Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly.

“The ring itself isn’t something that’s created,” Vaughn says. “The ring is actually more of a remnant of the myglobin that’s already within the meat.”

Myoglobin is protein in meat that gives it that delicious red color. The red ring just underneath the crust on your ‘cue is myoglobin that’s been seized by the way people cook the meat.

“There’s certain ways, certain techniques, that you can use to help hold on to that red ring,” Vaughn says. “Cooking nice and slow is one of those ways. Cooking in a moist environment certainly helps. But mainly the best way to get a good smoke ring is just to not cook it too hot and fast to start off with.”

It may be called a smoke ring, but Vaughn says it doesn’t taste like smoke.

“It doesn’t really taste like anything,” he says. “It only tastes like whatever seasoning and whatever smoke is placed onto the surface of the meat. That smoke flavor doesn’t really penetrate the meat.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.