Who doesn’t want to get that vibrant pink-colored ring on his meat? It’s a point of pride for every pitmaster. Although a smoke ring doesn’t enhance the flavor, it surely looks mesmerizing.
Electric smokers are the least preferred smoker to get smoke rings as they don’t produce much nitric oxide. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You can force the nitric oxide forming process just by adding some sodium nitrate or curing salt and get beautiful smoke rings on your meat.
I will discuss the process, the science behind it, and some simple yet secret tips to get smoke rings every time you smoke over an electric smoker.
What Causes The Smoke Ring – The Science
Myoglobin is a protein found in the muscles of all living creatures. It is responsible for holding oxygen in the muscle cells. Animals with more myoglobin in their muscle have redder meat than those with less myoglobin.
If meat gets exposed to the air, myoglobin binds with oxygen and oxidizes fresh meat, and turns it brown.
To create the smoke ring, we need to prevent this oxidation. This is where the smoke comes into play.
When barbecuing, most people use either wood chips or chunks to generate smoke. Wood has large amounts of nitrogen (N). The nitrogen (N) in the wood combines with oxygen (O) in the air and forms nitrogen dioxide (NO2) when burning.
These compounds sink into the surface of the cooked meat where they bond strongly with the myoglobin. These bonds prevent the oxygen from turning the meat brown, as a result, you see the pinkish circle around the meat.
The center of the steak turns gray as it doesn’t come into the contact with the smoke.
Some Simple Yet Handy Tips to Get a Smoke Ring Every Time
Here are some tips I have collected from expert pitmasters:
- Low and slow is key. Maintain temp. of 200 – 250 degrees F.
- Add some bark to your chips.
- Mesquite, Oak, or Cherry wood helps.
- Use Pink Curing Salt (1 teaspoon for every 5lbs of meat).
- The brisket needs to be as cold as possible. Put it in the freezer for about an hour right before you put it in the smoker.
How To Get A Smoke Ring With An Electric Smoker?
In short: Trim off the fat, go with low temp, use a stable consistent heat source, and keep it moist. And smoke from real wood helps in the chemical reaction process of the smoke ring.
Let me discuss this in detail.
1 – Trimming Fat
Try to get rid of the fat as much as possible. When trimming the fat and silver skin, go with the grain and let your knife do the work.
2 – Cooling The Meat
Right before putting it in the smoker, keep it in the fridge for about an hour. The colder it is inside, the longer it will take to heat that middle point, and your chance of getting a smoke ring will increase.
Cooling down the meat will help nitric oxide and carbon monoxide to concentrate in the meat and that will start making the outer layer of the meat pink, even before it is being heated.
3 – Adding Curing Salt
Getting the perfect smoke ring formation is not always possible. There are many factors that affect your ability to get the right smoke rings. For example, the temperature of the smoker may be too high or too low, or maybe there is not enough moisture available at the time.
If you want to make perfect smoke rings every time, you might need to keep this trick up your sleeve. The trick is to use Curing Salt. Curing Salt has sodium nitrate in it, and sodium nitrite gives smoked meats a pinkish tint.
4 – Smoking Slow With Low Temperature
High heat for a shorter period of time will not give you smoke ring. Maintaining low temperatures for a longer period of time will generate a lot of smoke and that will develop a prominent premium smoke ring.
You should keep the temperature at a gentle level and maintain it. Otherwise, the chemical process of forming a smoke ring will not be able to execute properly.
During the five hours of smoking, the temperature should be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember that a good smoke ring formation takes a minimum of four hours of constant heating.
5 – Right Type Of Wood
Dry wood burns fast but doesn’t make much smoke. On the other hand, fresh cut wood produces a lot of smoke. You can use a small amount of green fresh cut wood to maximize the amount of smoke.
Electric smokers are not ideal to form a smoke ring; but knowing the science, process and some handy tips will definitely help you get a smoke ring with an electric smoker.
Just keep in mind that it can take some time to master the skill. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it your first time.
Share the post if you find it helpful. If you have any secret tips or questions about getting smoke rings with an electric smoker, don’t hesitate to share them in the comment section. We would love to know.