Busting common meat smoking myths
Ever since MythBusters was canceled last year we have all been reeling from busting withdrawals. But lucky for you some of us Smoking Meat Geeks can give you a fix. Here are some common grilling myths busted.
If you're lookin', you're not cookin'
We all know every time you open the grill the heat escapes and the food ceases to cook and for every time you open the grill you have to add 15 minutes to your total cook time. What do they say? If you’re looking, you’re not cooking? Well, let’s get down to the bottom of this myth. Yes, myth.
Yes, it's true that when you open the grill the warm air inside escapes, but does it really affect the cooking time? Not so much.
The warm air inside the grill, heats up the outside of the meat. The heat in the outside of the meat is what cooks the inside. When the heated air escapes the opened grill, the heated meat remains. Meat absorbs and holds heat better than air so when you open the grill, the meat stays hot. It takes a long time for the meat to cool down, the outside of the meat may cool off slightly while the grill is open, but the interior of the meat will have no change.
Rotate your meat without fear. Go ahead and baste it one more time if you want. It really doesn’t matter.
"Juices are clear, we're good!"
This is an important one: assuming your chicken is ready because the juices are clear isn’t a safe method. Even tried and true recipes say to cook that chicken until the juices run clear. But beware, this is not a proper way to tell if your poultry is done.
Many tests have been done over the years when it comes to poultry meats. The results show that depending on several conditions such as genes, pre-slaughter environment, and even weather, meat can produce different color juices.
Some meat will produce clear juices long before they reach a safe temperature, while others will still have pink juices once it is fully cooked.
The only way to tell if your poultry is cooked, and, therefore not spend the night hovered over the porcelain god, is to check the internal temperature. It should be no less than 165 degrees unless you want to enjoy a night on the bathroom floor.?
Be sure to soak your wood chips at least a month or two in advance...
I'm surprised by how many people still recommend to soak chips for upwards of an hour. I've even heard people I consider industry influencers mention soaking their wood chips before smoking.
Let's think about wood for a minute. It floats. No matter how long it sits in the water, it still floats. That's because wood doesn’t really absorb water. Remember, they make boats out of wood for this very reason. Soaking your wood before smoking negatively affects the quality of the smoke, it reduces the temperature of your fire and it definitely won't make your food taste any better.
If you're worried about your wood chips catching fire (which isn't being prevented by soaking them, unless they're extinguishing your coals) then place your chips in a foil packet, poke a few holes in it and set it over a coal or two.
The longer you marinade the better it will taste
For the record, marinades they do not make your meat juicier and they do not penetrate deep into the tissue, no matter how long you wait.
Meat is already packed full with water. There isn’t a lot of room for the meat to soak up anything more. Additionally, most marinades are oil based, oil and water don’t mix. As a result the outside of the cut will absorb the flavors you’ve put together, but waiting for a deep penetration would take forever. Injections are the way to go if you are looking for flavors to be found throughout the deeper parts of the meat.
Don’t need to let your cuts marinade overnight, the extra time in a marinade bath won't make a difference. A few hours is all you need. A brine on the other hand does benefit from an overnight soak as salt slowly penetrates the innermost depths of the meat as it breaks down the fibers.