Though it may be September, we’re still very much in the grilling season here in Wisconsin. If you’ve lived here long enough, you know just how important it is to take advantage of any weather that’s remotely comfortable enough to spend some time cooking outside.
Cooking meats on the grill is a favorite pastime of people all over the United States. But have you ever wondered why meat tastes so much better when it’s grilled? Sure, you can cook up a steak in a variety of ways, but there’s something to be said for a stake cooked on an open flame. The same goes for hamburgers—there’s no doubt that burgers cooked on a grill are more enjoyable than those cooked in a pan.
Here’s some information about what makes meat taste better when it’s put through the grilling process!
Charcoal is one of the key ingredients to creating that perfect barbecue flavor. Gas grills certainly add some convenience, but when it comes to the best-quality barbecue, what you’re using to fuel the fire will add some flavor to what you’re eating. If you’ve heard of hickory-smoked barbecue or maple-smoked bacon, for example, these are meats that have been put through the smoking process with wood from hickory or maple trees.
Charcoal itself is actually wood that’s been heated in the presence of oxygen. Wood chips contain chemical compounds known as lignin, which get broken down to the point where they produce a compound called guaiacol. This guaiacol then provides the meat with that deep, smoky flavor that you can’t get from other cooking processes.
The higher heat of a grill is also a factor. The Maillard reaction rearranges the sugars and amino acids in the meat to produce that browned color and delicious barbecue flavor. This occurs at around 285 degrees Fahrenheit. When you combine this with the flavor gained from using charcoal, you get a truly unique, mouth-watering flavor.
The flavor profile of your meat begins even before you put it on the grill. You might have heard the misconception that the red color of meat comes from blood, but it actually has more to do with the behavior of the animals. Because cows spend so much time standing, their muscles must be strong enough to hold up their weight for long periods of time without getting overly tired. As a result, they develop a lot of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are great for transforming oxygen into energy through a special protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin turns red when bound to oxygen, so the redder a piece of meat, the more myoglobin it contains.
You know a piece of meat is fresh if it still has its nice, ruby tint—that’s how you know a good steak before it even goes on the grill.
For more information about the chemical processes associated with grilling and about building a fireplace in Wausau, WI you can use for cooking, contact us today.
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