I had an email recently from a fellow complaining that there was always a red tint to smoked meat that he cooked.. sausage in particular.
This got me to thinking that there may be many out there who really do not know what this is and why.
I can certainly understand how this could be a little scary to a new smoker.. thinking the meat is still raw and you don’t want to make your family or guests sick!
Let me just say that this is completely normal and not only is it normal but it is coveted. This red or pink tint on the outside edge of smoked meat is known as the smoke ring and I have heard my share of smokers bragging about that miraculous 1/2 inch smoke ring on their brisket or pork butt.
Because of this smoke ring, it is difficult to tell visually when some meats are done cooking. This is why I always recommend using a digital probe meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat while it cooks. In this way you can let the temperature of the meat tell you when the meat is done and safe to eat.
For some reason, a chemical reaction takes place when the smoke meats the pigments in the meat and it is this lack of oxygen that causes the pigment to retain its’ color even after it is cooked fully.
Chicken, pork, beef, turkey, etc. will all have some pinkish flesh usually on the outside edge.
This process can be artificially created by adding sodium nitrite and nitrates such as in hot dogs, ham, bologna, etc.
If you will look at my picture of the slice of meatloaf on the smoked meatloaf page, you will notice this ring very distinctively. To smokers, it is a beautiful thing and something worth bragging about.
Let it be known that the smoke ring is not an indicator of flavor whether good or bad.. it just indicates that the meat cooked in a smoky, oxygen deficient oven.