Category Archives: Barbecue tidbits

BBQ Tip: Know the right meat temperatures when barbecuing

Meeting minimum internal temperatures when cooking meats is key for food safety. Meeting minimum internal temperatures is important in ensuring that safe products are prepared and served. Using an accurate meat thermometer is key to knowing that these temperatures have been reached. Newly revised USDA cooking temperatures now have: Steaks, roasts, and chops from beef, pork, and lamb cooked to at least 145°F with a three-minute rest time before serving. Ground beef, pork, and lamb because of the mixed nature of these products must be cooked to 160°F…. Read More →

BBQ Tip: Maillard reaction key to barbecue browning

Key to browning in barbecue? Understanding the Maillard Reaction. The Maillard Reaction is responsible for browning. This is where the amino acids in foods react with reducing sugars to form the characteristic brown cooked color of foods. Meat surfaces that are wet will not properly brown until they have dried sufficiently to allow this reaction to occur.  

BBQ Tip: Brining enhances juiciness of pork and poultry

Brining is the key to enhanced juiciness for barbecued pork and poultry. Brining works based on two chemistry principles:  through diffusion and osmosis.  Pork and poultry cuts, which tend to be cooked to elevated internal temperatures, benefit most from brining. Beef and lamb cuts, since most are cooked to lower internal temperatures or have more fat in them if they are cooked to higher internal temperatures, do not benefit from brining. Brining helps to denature meat proteins, which then allows more water to be attached and held during… Read More →

BBQ Tip: Low and slow is key to great barbecue

With large cuts of beef and pork to barbecue, cooking “low and slow” is a key guideline to help prepare the best barbecue around. Two of the most popular cuts to barbecue are the beef brisket and pork Boston butt.  These cuts are quite large and must be cooked to elevated (around 190°F) internal temperatures. Because these cuts are so large, if they are cooked at high pit temperatures (350°F or greater), the outside portions of them will be greatly overcooked before the desired internal temperatures are met…. Read More →

BBQ Tip: Avoid cross contamination when barbecuing

Keeping raw and cooked foods, utensils, plates, and cutting boards completely separate helps prevent foodborne illness. Cross contamination is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness and is one of the easiest ones to prevent. It’s caused when cooked foods come in contact with raw foods or the plates, utensils, and/or cutting boards that have been used to prepare raw foods. Cross contamination can also be caused by improper hand washing procedures. Remember to keep everything separated including coolers, cutting boards, utensils and never place a cooked product… Read More →

BBQ Tip: Brisket & butt endpoint temperatures are key

Why do beef briskets and pork butts benefit from cooking to 190 to 200°F internally? Beef briskets and pork butts are two of the most popular barbecue cuts, and both of them have a high percentage of connective tissue containing collagen. Collagen is converted to gelatin when heated (this is how Jello® is manufactured), and it requires a higher internal temperature (ranges from 190 to 200°F) to achieve this conversion. Although the muscle fiber component of tenderness gets tougher as internal temperatures go up, the connective tissue component… Read More →

BBQ Tip: “Rest” meat before slicing

As we get ready for the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival, Dr. Jeff Savell has offered some of his top tips and insights into barbecuing and grilling. Resting meats after cooking and before serving is key to juicy and tender BBQ. Resting meats after cooking is key to them being juicy and tender. In cooking, heat forces the moisture towards the center of the cut, and if the meat is cut immediately after cooking without a resting period, valuable meat juices will leak out.  When meat is rested, the… Read More →

BBQ Tip: Briskets – wrapped or unwrapped?

There may be no greater debate in the barbecue world than whether or not to wrap briskets with aluminum foil during the smoking/cooking process. Those who wrap say it gets the brisket to become fall-apart tender and to reduce cooking times and shrinkage. Those who are against wrapping say the moist environment makes the brisket have more of a roast-beef flavor than the preferred smoked-beef flavor. Anyone who has cooked large cuts of meat have encountered “The Stall,” where internal temperatures seem to plateau before the desired endpoint… Read More →

BBQ Tip: Keep “hot foods hot, cold foods cold”

In barbecuing, remember to keep hot food hot (>140°F) and cold food cold (<40°) to ensure safe foods. In barbecuing, one of the simplest ways to ensure safe food handling is to make sure that hot foods remain hot (>140°) and cold foods remain cold (<40°F). Keeping hot foods hot will prevent toxins and spores from being produced when foods fall below the critical temperature of 140°F.  Keeping cold foods cold will prevent both spoilage and toxin formation when foods are held above 40°F for extended time periods…. Read More →

Discolored edges on beef briskets

It is not uncommon these days to pick up a vacuum packaged brisket at a grocery store and see a discolored edge on it.  This discoloration may be subtle or it may be quite distinct and is usually gray or brown, which contrasts with the purple color of the meat in the vacuum package (the meat will turn red when removed from the package and exposed to oxygen). The reason for this discoloration is that this edge of the brisket is exposed when the carcass is split into… Read More →