Monday, September 26, 2022

Why Does Smoky, Charred BBQ Taste So Good?

Memorial Day BBQ (Adobe Stock)
Memorial Day BBQ (Adobe Stock)

*Ever wonder why grilling meat seems to enhance the flavor of the food? 

One chemist has broken down the science behind cooking over an open flame. 

Kristine Nolin, Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Richmond, writes: When you cook meat at higher temperatures – like over direct heat on a barbecue – the first thing to happen is that water near the meat’s surface boils off. Once the surface is dry, the heat causes the proteins and sugars on the outside of the meat to undergo a reaction called the Maillard Reaction. This reaction produces a complex mixture of molecules that make food taste more savory or “meaty” and adds depth to scents and flavors.” 

She also notes that “limiting the amount of charring on meats can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.”

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Here’s more from the report: 

  • The final quintessential barbecue flavor is smokiness.
  • Cooking over wood or charcoal involves a lot of smoke. Even on a gas grill, melting fats will drip onto the heat source and produce smoke. As smoke swirls around the barbecue, the food will absorb its flavors.
  • Smoke is made up of gases, water vapor and small solid particles from the fuel. Burning wood breaks down molecules called lignans, and these turn into smaller organic molecules – including syringol and guaiacol – that are mainly responsible for the quintessential smokey flavor.

Read the full article here for more grilling instructions and noteworthy health hazards from cooking over an open flame.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.




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