The Contradiction of BBQ

Why is it so hard to barbeque well? (I mean the slow cooked and smoked kind of barbeque, not the grilled kind.)

One key reason is that there is a contradiction at the heart of the process.

Wood needs to burn at high temperature to produce tasty smoke. At low temperature, there will be no pyrolysis and so the burning wood will produce acrid, creosote tasting smoke.

But meat needs to cook at low temperature otherwise it will shrink, toughen, and dry out; and it needs to cook for a long time in order to turn the tough collagen into soft gelatin.

That’s the contradiction: the wood fire needs to be hot, but the meat needs to be cooked low and slow and long. No wonder good barbeque is hard to do.

So, it would seem logical to separate the two processes: a brief high-temp smoking, and a long low-temp cooking, done best by sous vide.


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