I love to get questions and I encourage any of you to send me your questions. Not only does it help me generate ideas for the website and my newsletters, but it lets me know when I need to explain things a little more in-depth.
I received this question a few weeks ago and I thought I would share it because it’s a great question. Bartman writes….
“I have a question for you. In your teaching on smoking shoulders/butts you state that every time the temperature in your smoker drops, your meat begins to “lock” back up – resulting in a product that is tough. You have to keep the temperature steady to keep the meat cooking.
Can you help me to understand exactly what is happening when the meat “LOCKS UP”? What exactly does that mean and how does it affect the tenderness of the meat? What is happening?
Thanks for the help and information.”
And here is the answer:
The goal of low and slow cooking is to slowly denature or “break down” the protein strands in the meat. When you break the meat down slowly – and correctly – the result will be a moist, tender, flavorful product.
But any heat fluctuations can interfere with the denaturing of these proteins in the meat. As the temps sharply rise and fall it causes the protein fibers to “unravel” too fast or not enough… and this results in tougher product.
And once the damage has been done, there is no secret trick or cooking method that will bring that tenderness back – unless you simply cook it long enough and turn it into complete mush.
If you cook your meat too long or at too high of an internal temp, it will denature the proteins so much that the protein structures will turn into a dry, mushy product.
Cooking your BBQ until its mushy might fool most people who don’t know good, tender BBQ… but for people like you and me, it just ain’t going to cut it.
I hope this helps explain how your meat cooks a little more in-depth. And, as always, if you have any more questions just email me!