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Breaking down fat and collagen

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  • _John_
    Former Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 2394

    Breaking down fat and collagen

    This is related somewhat to my upcoming experiment, and something I have been wanting to clarify for a while.

    Based on this article we learn 3 things:
    1. Muscle fibers start seizing up around 125°F to 140°F if heated quickly
      • ​At 120 Myosin protein, a protein involved in muscle contraction within fibers, begins to lose its natural structure.
    2. At 160 Tough collagens melt and form luscious tender gelatin. The process can take hours so low and slow cooking creates the most gelatin.
    3. The Maillard reaction really kicks off at 300 degrees but Twelve hours at 225°F will brown meat nearly as deeply as 15 minutes on the grill
    From this it seems that for the most tender meat on tough proteins we want to work very slowly to 140 or so to prevent the fibers from seizing, then we want to spend as much time as possible at around 160. Finally for flavor and bark we want plenty of Maillard goodness. From my experience I get the most tender large cuts from faux cambro'ing for 1-2 hours or more.

    So, knowing that most of the smoke flavor occurs in the first 30 minutes or so with wet, cold meat, would we not anticipate a better cook with the following?
    1. Get good clean smoke rolling in the smoker
    2. When I dry brine, the result is a very wet surface good for smoke absorption, but we kind of kill that by covering it in rub, should we hold off on the rub?
    3. While that is getting a good 30 minute smoke, build a chimney of coals that will get us to the 140 mark slowly, possibly below 225.
    4. At around 170, wrap tight and faux cambro for about an hour. This will drop the temp back down to around 160, so we get an extra hour of melty goodness plus the time that it takes to get back to 170.
    5. Bring the temp up high into the 325 range for the remainder of the cook to maximize the Maillard.
    How does this look? Am I missing something? Dr. Blonder mentioned smoke going through rubs etc. but is there any benefit to applying the rub later since it is just a surface treatment?

    Also, when we wrap to power through the stall, aren't we negatively affecting the collagen melting period? I know from a moisture point of view you don't want to hang out there all day (and time perspective) but it seems like this is the key time where the best stuff happens.
    Last edited by _John_; December 9, 2014, 03:45 PM.
  • Spinaker
    • Nov 2014
    • 11097
    • Land of Tonka
    • John "J R"
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    Are you planning on putting any rub on after the cook? Not at all? or after that initial 30 min smoke period? Great Idea. Looking forward to the results.


    • _John_
      _John_ commented
      Editing a comment
      Not sure, if I do the 30 minute smoke I will likely want to take the meat off while I dump coals so I don't get all the dust and stuff, I can rub it then. Otherwise maybe when I wrap at 170...
      We'll see when the time arrives I guess!
  • mtford72
    Former Member
    • Aug 2014
    • 127
    • San Antonio, Texas

    Interested to see the results!


    • HC in SC
      Former Member
      • Nov 2014
      • 476
      • SC Lowcountry

      The theory is sound - I'd be interested in seeing the results as well John!

      As far as the brining - why not dry brine with a salted rub? I add salt at the standard 1/2 tsp per pound to MMD so I control the amount, I don't see why that wouldn't work in your experiment. It doesn't seem like the rub 'blocks' any smoke in my experience; but maybe do a control w/o rub and just salt to see if there is a any difference.

      Just my $0.02...


      • CandySueQ
        • Jul 2014
        • 1535
        • Pellet Fired Jambo, T1000 Woodmaster, FEC100, MAK 2 star, Yoder 640, Backwoods Pellet Chef, 14" & 22" WSM, 22" Weber Kettle, Stoven, Hot Box Grill, Hasty Bake Portable

        I always let rub "rest" on the meat for at least 2 hours before cooking. The juices from the meat reconstitute the rub and it becomes wet and shiny all on its own. Generally I don't add rub after cooking. I think it would suck moisture from the meat.


        • Papa Bob
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 333
          • Stockton ca


          john what big ole hunk of meat are you going to try this experiment on and have you considered injecting for added flavor?


          • _John_
            _John_ commented
            Editing a comment
            Probably start with pulled pork. I think first I will not inject, that way I can test before and after better.

          • Papa Bob
            Papa Bob commented
            Editing a comment
            looking forward to your results



        2021 Meat-Up In Memphis Canceled - Rescheduled for March 2022

        This summer's 2021 Meat-Up in Memphis IS OFFICIALLY RESCHEDULED FOR March 18-20, 2022. More details and re-booking info here!
        See more
        See less
        Meat-Up in Memphis