September 22, 2012


Q'Believer's...would you take a High School science class where one of the weekly assignments was to research the Science of BBQ?
Yep, I thought so!  In my senior level elective class I have my students research the following MYTH affectionately called DEATH BY BBQ:

Confirm or Bust the myth claiming that grill lines on barbecued meats contain carcinogens.  Also answer the following:1) What minimum temperature should you cook pork, chicken and beef to be safe?  2) Why does smoking meat at a low temperature produce more tender meat than cooking/grilling at high temperature?  3) What dangerous bacteria can be found in chicken and what is its affect on the body?
Not your everyday boring elective class, huh?  In my preparation for the course I came across some interesting BBQ/Science related sites that I wanted to share.  Maybe you can step your game up this off-season with the info or just kill some time hiding from your wife in your man cave hunkered down next to your iPad!

Amazing Understanding And Beating The Barbecue Stall, Bane Of All Barbecuers, And How It Helps Create "Bark"

SUMMARY: The best BBQ science article floating around in cyberspace.  Defines the "stall" and provides experimental evidence to improve your cooks!  YOU MUST READ THIS!!!
The temp rises steadily for a couple of hours and then, to your chagrin, it stops. It sticks. It stalls for four or more hours and barely rises a notch. Sometimes it even drops a few degrees. You check the batteries in your meat thermometer. You tap on the smoker thermometer like Jack Lemon in the China Syndrome. Meanwhile the guests are arriving, and the meat is nowhere near the 190°F mark at which it is most tender and luscious. Your mate is tapping her foot and you're pulling your hair out.

The Accidental Scientist: Science of Cooking

SUMMARY:  Discussion of the history of BBQ
Just where did the term barbeque originate? The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word barbeque was derived from the Spanish word barbacoa which itself was taken from a Haitian word barbacoa, meaning "a framework of sticks set upon posts." Meats and fish were placed on these posts and slowly cooked.

WIRED Magazine: How to BBQ with science

SUMMARY: BBQ tips from a real live GENIUS!
Nathan Myhrvold, formerly Microsoft's CTO, is the founder of Intellectual Ventures and co-author of the 2,438-page multivolume masterwork Modernist Cuisine (Cooking Lab, £697). He also won gold at the World ChampionshipBarbecuing Contest -- here are his hot barbie tips.

Relishing The Science Of The BBQ

SUMMARY: Audio and transcript of NPR's Science Friday dealing with wacky Q'-related topics
From mayonnaise myth-busters to a ketchup jar that never jams, the grill pit is a hot bed of scientific research. Ira and Flora talk with food safety specialist Angela Fraser talks safe picnic protocol; MIT's Kripa Varanasi explains his "LiquiGlide" condiment container; and fermentation expert Bob Hutkins of University of Nebraska salutes the pickle.

Molecular Gastronomy: The Science of BBQ

SUMMARY: Interview with a guy into BBQ who has more degrees than a thermometer. Goes into the cancel angle of grill marks and the science behind low and slow.
I have a PhD in chemistry and currently I’m working as a research scientist. When I first became interested in the connection between food and chemistry in the late 90′s, I searched the Internet without finding much information. I did however find some very interesting books in the faculty library, including Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking – The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”. Having found books about the subject, I soon started to give popular science presentations. In 2004 I was invited to attend the “International Workshop on Molecular Gastronomy” in Erice, Sicily. This was a great experience and I enjoyed meeting many of the scientists, writers and chefs involved with molecular gastronomy. The website I’ve put up, Khymos, is in many ways what I would have liked to find at the time I became interested in the subject.

BBQ Science: The Chemistry of Burgers

SUMMARY: Video clips detailing the chemistry that goes into a cheeseburger.
In the U.S. the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer—and the beginning of barbeque season. As you sear the meat and toast the buns, have you ever wondered why grilling beats boiling? Or why ketchup and mustard tend to separate, but mayonnaise does not? Or why a pickle lasts so long?

The Science of Smoke

SUMMARY: The "BBQ Doctor's" look into what smoke does to flesh.
When I first started cooking BBQ I wanted to know what was going on chemically. I needed all the help I could get and I thought that if I understood what the basic science was behind smoking, I could produce a better product. I hit the books started cooking more and became an MBN trained BBQ judge. Here is what I found.

Not a bad little collection of articles to get you through the post-summer BBQ blues.  Be on the lookout for any others and drop me a line if you find a good one.  Good luck and study hard...there will be a quiz next week!

The TrashMan

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