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Mad Science Experiment - Smoke Rings
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wnkt
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29 08 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kinda like your avatar here woodoggy..but I like the"other forum" one too Very Happy ...still like the Experiments too by the way
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29 08 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tried shrinking my logo to the maximum size allowed here, but you couldn't tell what it was. So I'm sticking with the avatar a certain Alien souped up with some flames. Cool
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29 08 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a start on the brining today. I made the brine earlier today with 1 cup salt to one gallon of water, and chilled in the fridge for several hours.

At Sams Club I picked up two twin cryovacs each weighing right near 15 pounds. I made sure that the two packages I picked out had butts that looked the same size inside. This way I could have reasonably same sized pieces of meat.

I had to get at one package tonight so I could start the brining. Here is the first cryovac...


...and here they are deboned and quartered.


I took the 4 pieces on the left and put each in a ziploc with some brine, sealed up and tossed in the fridge. I wrapped teh other 4 pieces up tight and put back in the fridge for tomorrow night when they will get slather and rub.

I'll post more updates after I have some.
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01 08 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This evening I cleaned up my kettle grill real good, then lit up a chimney of cherry chunks. I dumped the chunks in the kettle and filled in with more cherry, and let it go with inlets open and lid off until they had burned down to coals. Then I put the lid on so the ashes wouldn't get blown around overnight. Tomorrow morning I should be able to get me some pure cherry wood ash.

Twenty four hours after putting the 4 pieces in brine, I took them out along with the other 4 pieces I quartered up last night. Here's what they looked like. The brined ones are the 4 on the left.


I bagged up 2 of the brined ones and put back in the fridge. Then I applied slather to the other 2 brined pieces, and to 2 of the plain pieces. Here's a photo after the slather. The 2 brined ones are on the left.


Then I applied rub to all 6 of these pieces. Even though I had blotted dry the brined pieces, they really took on a lot of rub, and I mean a whole lot. Here's a photo after the rub. The 2 on the left are the brined, slathered and rubbed, the middle 2 are slathered and rubbed, and the 2 on the right only have rub.


Hopefully I'll be able to provide updates tomorrow as the experiment progresses. It's a busy weekend though, so I may not be as timely as I would wish to be. I will take pictures though, and the results will get posted by Monday at the latest.
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Mitch-Cole
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01 08 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's another "myth" to bust - I was told that if you put cold meat in the Q then the smoke won't penetrate very far into the meat since the meat hasn't had a chance to "relax" first. Anybody have thoughts on that one? Confused
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mrcustomsteel
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01 08 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mitch, I've always heard the opposite. The colder the meat is when you put it on the deeper the smoke ring but I've never tested it. I hope WooDoggy will help bust some of our myths.
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BRONCOSTU
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01 08 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard the colder the better too. I'm doing 2 butts for a party in 2 weeks. I wouldn't mind carrying out a small scale experiment. 1 butt in cold, and 1 in a little warmer. See if there's much of a difference. Isn't it bad to let pork stay above 40 for too long anyway? I guess the longer you let it sit out and the warmer it goes in the smoke, the faster it will get over the 140 mark too. Hmmm
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the colder the meat when it starts, and the slower it heats up (as long as it stays moist), then the deeper the smoke ring. I think that because I have cooked meats straight out of the freezer and the meat came out with a real thick smoke ring. Alien posted a picture of a brisket flat cooked this way a year or two back with an incredible smoke ring. The other reason I think this is that many people seem to agree that once the meat hits about 140 degrees, the smoke ring stops. I don't know how they know this, or how true it is, but after seeing what happened to the frozen meat I think there is soemthing to this.

The meat is on! I got probably a little over a cup of cherry ash which was more than sufficient.

I took the other cryovac of butts to debone and quarter.


Here they are deboned and quartered. The 4 on the left will be the pieces I use in the oven, and the 4 on the right will be used in the WSM's for the plain pieces and the spritzed pieces.


I got the WSM's synchronized at 275 with Kingsford charcoal and cherry chunks, and set the gas oven for the same temp. For the pieces cooking in the oven, I took half-size aluminum pans and made a HD foil divider to keep two pieces seperately while they cook.

In ths picture are 2 of the oven pieces. The one on the right is the plain piece, and the one on the left has a rub of 1 tbsp Tenderquick.


In this picture are the other 2 oven pieces. The one on the right got a thin layer of liquid smoke and then a rub of 1 tbsp Tenderquick. I think you can guess what is on the one on the left. Doesn't it look yummy?


In this picture are the 6 pieces that went in the WSM with the water pan. On the top row from left to right are Plain, Spritzed, Brined. On the bottom row from left to right are Rubbed, Slather+Rub, Brine+Slather+Rub+Spritz.


And this last picture is the 6 pieces going in the WSM with the sand pan. On the top row from left to right are Plain, Spritzed, Brined. On the bottom row from left to right are Rubbed, Slather+Rub, Brine+Slather+Rub+Spritz.


I will begin spritzing the pieces that get spritz beginning at the 3 hour mark, and spritz them every 45 minutes with Members Mark Apple Juice.

More updates as I get them and can post them.
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Canadian Bacon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You sure are putting alot of time and effort into this experiment.I really hope you get all the results you are looking for in these tests,Im curious to see the results myself.Nice tutorial so far WoooDoggy.
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I applied the first round of spritzing to the pieces getting spritzed. I took the meat temp in the plain pieces in each cooker and they were all right around 160. I'm glad there is a consistency showing.
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another spritzing applied. The plain pieces in the WSM's are both 163, and the plain one in the oven is 160.
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another round of spritzing complete. The temps for the plain pieces in the 3 cookers are:

Moist WSM: 166
Dry WSM: 165
Oven: 164
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spritzing time has come again. Temps of the plain pieces are:

Moist WSM: 170
Dry WSM: 172
Oven: 171
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mutha chicken bbq
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

This is one great experiment.But you are missing one very important measurement.

How many beers are we up to thus far? Laughing

keep up the good work
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The results are in!!!

Pieces came off at different times over the course of about 45 minutes, but I had a system to keep everything organized and when all the pieces were ready I was able to process them systematically. This is a good thing because when I took the pictures off my camera I found I had only taken 14 photos, so I missed taking photos of two pieces. Because of the system I was able to quickly identify exactly which pieces did not get pictures. It was the Dry Brined piece and the Wet Brined piece.

The system I had to keep everything in order was to put toothpicks in the pieces in each cooker to identify which ones they were. Then when taking pieces off of the cooker, I had three different pans to put them in, so only pieces from the same cooker wound up in a pan. Then from the number of toothpicks in each piece in the pan I knew exactly what cooker and what piece it was. Then when evaluating them I did them in a specific order by cooker and number of toothpicks and wrote down the results for that cooker and piece number.

The pictures were taken as I processed the pieces, so they followed that same order, and I also included the toothpicks in the photos for identification if needed. It's a good thing I did because this is how I was able to figure out which pieces I had forgotten to take photos of.

OK, I know you are itching for the results, here they are. All pieces were cooked to between 195 and 200 degrees. The cookers were running at 275 throughout the cooking process. to measure the smoke ring, I sliced each piece in half and took the measurement of the smoke ring at its thickest point that was not a corner or gouge/cavity.

WSM w/Water Pan - Plain
1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Boring flavorwise.


WSM w/Water Pan - Spritzed
1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Boring flavorwise.


WSM w/Water Pan - Brined
1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted rather good actually.
(sorry, no photo)

WSM w/Water Pan - Rubbed
3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted good.


WSM w/Water Pan - Slathered and Rubbed
3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted good.


WSM w/Water Pan - Brined, Slathered, Rubbed and Spritzed
3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted better than the others.


WSM w/Sand Pan - Plain
1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Boring tasting.


WSM w/Sand Pan - Spritzed
1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Boring tasting.


WSM w/Sand Pan - Brined
1/2 inch thick smoke ring. Good meat flavor.
(sorry, no photo)

WSM w/Sand Pan - Rubbed
3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted good.


WSM w/Sand Pan - Slathered and Rubbed
3/8 inch thick smoke ring. Tasted good.


WSM w/Sand Pan - Brined, Slathered, Rubbed and Spritzed
3/8 inch thick smoke ring - This one had the best bark and best flavor of all of the pieces today.


Oven - Plain
No smoke ring at all. This was the most boring flavor of all of them.


Oven - Tenderquick rub
5/8 inch thick smoke ring. This tasted OK. Nothing special.


Oven - Liquid Smoke and Tenderquick Rub
5/8 inch thick smoke ring. This did not taste bad, but if I was sereved this anywhere I would never order it again. The smoke flavor did not taste like real smoke and was very subtle and kinda weird tasting. I would never mistake this for real smoked BBQ, no way, no how.


Oven - Cherry Wood Ash
1/4 inch light colored smoke ring, but it was there! I did not taste it however.


I was surprised at how clear the results seem to be at initial glance. There are some noticeable patterns in these results. Here is what I am taking from this at first glance.

1. Cooking in a gas oven does not produce a smoke ring. (I knew this already though, but nobody can say I didn't include this)

2. Wood ash on meat does indeed form a smoke ring.

3. Meat cooked in an oven with Liquid Smoke could not fool anyone familiar with real BBQ.

4. Introducing extra moisture to the meat from a water pan, brining or spritzing has no effect on smoke ring penetration.

5. Adding a rub to the meat reduces penetration of the smoke ring. Slathers, spritzes and brines do not seem to cause any more reduction in the smoke ring, it appears to be just the rub that makes this difference.

Well, that's what happened today folks. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

Final Beer Tally: 11 Laughing
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Jeff T
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a thought...
Next time when cooking butts use the WSM w/Sand Pan - Brined, Slathered, Rubbed and Spritzed for best flavor.
And if at a comp then give them a TQ rub down for a few hour prior to tossing them on the smoker for that extra thick some ring?
Sounds like comp secrets reveled to me. Wink J/k
You know this is probably more true then i realize. Very Happy

Another thought....
How about brining with a little TQ in the brine? Shocked

Thanks Wooo for what you do, your BBQ experiments are always a journey into the unknown & at times with surprising results.
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Doc1680
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent test Master Wooo.

The results make sense.

But what do you think Chris? Was it the fact that you had the whole piece of meat covered (with something other than TQ) that prevented the penetration? Or was it something in the rub? If you just put the slather on would you get the same effect?
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Canadian Bacon
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 02 08 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WoooDoggy,now you have to do an experiment on how many beers it takes for your hand to stop shaking when you take pictures Laughing Laughing Laughing .Good job on the above experiment.
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeff T wrote:
Just a thought...
Next time when cooking butts use the WSM w/Sand Pan - Brined, Slathered, Rubbed and Spritzed for best flavor.
And if at a comp then give them a TQ rub down for a few hour prior to tossing them on the smoker for that extra thick some ring?
Sounds like comp secrets reveled to me. Wink J/k
You know this is probably more true then i realize. Very Happy

Another thought....
How about brining with a little TQ in the brine? Shocked

LOL! Too funny! That would never work. Rolling Eyes

I have tried brining a whole butt before but even after 48 hours could not get it to penetrate all the way down into the meat. I think the reason this worked on these pieces was because they were 1/4 the size of a butt and therefore managed to penetrate enough in 24 hours to make a difference. You should have seen the brine water, it was a lovely pink color when I drained it off the meat. After cooking, the meat had a noticably different flavor, a bit more hammy and the salty really made it more flavorful.

Brining with TQ would certainly give you a wonderful tasting ham! Laughing

Since you can't cut a butt into quarters at comps, I don't see the brining being adapted by anyone at comps. But here is food for thought, the brining was used to add moisture to the interior of the meat. This is probably not much different than injecting, which many people do at comps. I did not want to inject these little pieces, seemed pointless. That is why I chose brining.

Doc1680 wrote:
But what do you think Chris? Was it the fact that you had the whole piece of meat covered (with something other than TQ) that prevented the penetration? Or was it something in the rub? If you just put the slather on would you get the same effect?

There just isn't enough here to tell. This test was just to determine if any of these things affected smoke ring penetration, and there was a difference in the pieces with rub and/or slather. I am thikning it was probably other non-salt/sugar ingredients in the rub, but based on this data there is no way to be certain. That will require another experiment I guess. Darn. Laughing

Canadian Bacon wrote:
WoooDoggy,now you have to do an experiment on how many beers it takes for your hand to stop shaking when you take pictures Laughing Laughing Laughing .Good job on the above experiment.

LOL! Yeah, I was pretty upset about that. I was using the review feature and deleting the ones I could see in the window were bad. But as you can see there was still a lot of "blur" I still could not make out. Rolling Eyes the difference between the photos yesterday, and the days prior was the lighting. It was night time when I was prepping the meat in the 2 days prior, and I was using interior lighting as was able to use the flash without getting a bad glare. So the time to capture the picture was short enough to be clear. However, yesterday it was daytime and I could not get proper lighting. With the windows open and lights off there was a horrible glare with the flash, and without the flash I would have required a tripod to get the photos clear. With the windows closed and the lights on, I got an even worse glare with the flash. The best combination I came up with was windows open and flash off, but the time to capture the picture was still a bit too slow and is why you see the movement. I was leaning my arms on the counter to reduce movement, but still got that much movement. Oh well, there was enough to do that day as it was, stressing over the photos wouldn't have been good because then I would have spent too much time on the photos and not enough on the experiment, and with how much was going on something would have gone wrong. As it was, the worst thing that happened was I missed 2 photos. That is pretty good for a one man job in my opinion.
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SmokinOkie
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the results.

That much effort, the photos just didn't do your work justice.

About the photos, what kind of Digital Camera do you have? Most will allow you to adjust the ASA of the "film" so just change that to 800 or 1600 in low light. You could also use one of those $5 clamp lamps (I have them in my trailer for comps) and put it near your stuff.

For flash you can lower the ASA.

On my flash it has a diffuser that comes down over the flash and helps in those closeups.
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