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Barbecue: 9 myths to dispel
Barbecue: 9 myths to dispel

You know the beautiful ones grilling summer around the fire, with friends, wine and the inevitable guitar? Yes, come on, with the half-raw steaks on one side and charred on the other, the sausages that never cook, the stench of smoke and sudden flames and, last but not least, the usual know-it-all, grilling magician, who delight for hours magnifying the secrets of one perfect marinade?

Well, all these aspects that make summer barbecues so indelible and unique in our memories (!?), Are about to be blown away by a detailed guide to getting a perfect barbecue with meat cooked to perfection And excellent flavor.

After doing it with food in general, fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, fish, chocolate, oysters, craft beer, salmon, nutrition and conservation, let's debunk myths, legends and clichés that have often transformed the barbecue in a stinking nightmare, for us and for our friends.

Here are the 9 most common tales.

1. To understand the temperature of the grill just hold your hand over it

But how is it possible that fine (self-styled) expert chefs affirm or believe this colossal bullshit? Not so, absolutely. You can't understand the temperature that way, it's a lie. You can't stand there figuring out the degrees until your hand goes roast with the sausage!

Each of us reacts to heat differently, and the heat a couple of inches above the grill can be very different if the inches are fifteen.

2. Heat the grill well then roast all the meat

steaks on the grill
steaks on the grill

You must have a large enough grill to divide the cooking zone into two parts, one hot and one not. The first part is heated directly by radiant heat, the other by indirect heating, by convection.

In gas grills, turn off the burners related to one area, in charcoal ones put all the charcoal on one side. The best technique for thicker pieces of meat is the one called “reverse browning” and it also works indoors.

That is, you start cooking the meat on the grill side with indirect heat, which you heat up slowly. By cooking slowly, the meat will be more tender inside. But the fact is, you want a nice crunchy crust. The secret is to move the meat from the indirect heat grill side to the direct heat one when there are still ten degrees left to reach the optimal temperature for roasting, with the lid open.

So you focus the heat on one side only, roasting your meat. Let each side of the meat stay in contact with the grill for only two minutes, then turn it every minute until it is beautifully colored. Same thing for potatoes.

3. When browning the meat, you seal the juices

Another big bullshit. Meat is 70% water enclosed in thousands of fine muscle fibers. The heat will always make the water of these juices splash away, or evaporate, you have to put your soul in peace.

Do you hear this sizzle? It is the water on the hot metal. Even if the external browning makes the surface color and gives it a succulent flavor, this does not mean that the juices are sealed inside the meat: if our meat is crunchy it depends only on the heat that has dried the surface itself, making evaporate the water.

Doing tests between browned and non-browned meat cooked at the same temperature, you would realize that the browned one weighs less, precisely because the water on the surface has evaporated.

4. The marinade penetrates the meat and makes it tender

marinated chicken
marinated chicken

Marinating is a treatment that stops at the surface, especially for thick cuts of meat. Meat is like a protein sponge saturated with water: there is no room for much more liquid.

And if the salt, as well as for the aromatic molecules, once wet becomes electrically charged and penetrates deep into the meat, this does not happen for garlic or pepper, unable to cross the surface barrier.

Even an overnight marinade rarely penetrates more than three or four millimeters. A pretty good size for a thin steak, not much for a chicken breast or a nice thick pork steak!

5. That pink juice you see leaking from the flesh is blood

Contrary to what we believe, the pink liquid is not blood but water to which a protein called myoglobin gives the pink color. And myoglobin is not found in the blood. If it were blood, it would be dark red, and it would clot.

Whenever we call this liquid "blood", a little boy somewhere in the world becomes a vegetarian! So, let's just call it "juice", or "liquid", okay?

6) Cook the chicken until the internal liquid becomes clear and transparent

grilled chicken
grilled chicken

This is one of the most dangerous lies: if you really believe it, you may not only not cook chicken well but also spend the night on the toilet or, worse, end up in the emergency room.

As we have said, the juices of chickens, turkeys or pigs are colored by the protein called myoglobin. When myoglobin is cooked, its structure changes and also changes its color, becoming from pink to white, or transparent, just as the juice of the meat becomes transparent (and no longer pink). But at what temperature does myoglobin cook? In reality, there is no fixed temperature because it depends on many factors, such as the pH of the meat, the climate but also the animal's slaughter stress.

What is important to know is that the pink color can remain so even after reaching the sterilization temperature, and therefore of safety, but above all that it could, on the contrary, also become transparent long before it has reached the sterilization temperature and therefore of safety (greater than 70 ° C.). In this case, if you rely on the fact that the color has become transparent, you could be in serious trouble: it is not important at what temperature the myoglobin cooks, regardless of its color, but it is important to reach the right temperature to eliminate harmful germs or bacteria. particularly present in chicken meat. Therefore, always make sure to cook the chicken in such a way as to reach a minimum temperature of 70 0 75 ° C, and pay no attention to the color, pink or transparent, of its juices!

It also happens to see the chicken meat close to the bone becoming very red. Yet the meat of the thigh was cooked, measured with a thermometer, at a temperature above 80 ° C.

Don't worry, you can eat it safely. Nowadays, dark red bones are more frequent because in farms chickens are slaughtered early, at only 7 weeks of age: the bones are still porous and the marrow, that is the part where the blood is produced, can still be visible or come out. So even though the chicken is cooked, the red remains.

Keep in mind: color is not a reliable parameter for any type of meat. Only the temperature is.

7. If you check by opening the lid you are stopping cooking

Every good grill manual reiterates this: if you check how things are progressing by opening the grill, you are not cooking. Some even say that for meat to be subjected to long cooking such as pork or beef, every time you take a look you have to add 15 minutes of cooking.

But in reality it does not work like this: the hot air inside the grill cooks the outside of the meat, it is true, but it is the heat of the surface of the meat itself that cooks the inside.

Considering that the meat is composed largely of water and that the water maintains the heat better than the air, opening the grill can also cool the air, of course, but the internal cooking will not be too affected. Opening the grill reduces the air temperature but has a minimal impact on the external temperature of the meat and practically zero inside.

So, a minute here and there to turn the meat or insert a thermometer is a minute well spent: no damage, no spoiled chicken!

8. The more you smoke the better

grilled meat, smoke
grilled meat, smoke

Instead, the opposite is true.

White puffs of smoke can be a great thing if you're electing the Pope, but only the blue puffs are what really matter.

It is more difficult to perceive them because they are made of very small gas particles created by fire. White smoke comes from the slow combustion of wood that consumes oxygen, while blue smoke makes the food taste better. So if the wood is crackling in the flames, don't worry: it is the beloved blue color that is being created.

9. Oil the grates of the grill so that the food does not stick

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

It depends on the temperature of the grates. The metal grids, even the cleanest ones, are not perfectly smooth: in fact, if you could see them under a microscope you would notice abrasions and cuts. The components of the food are much colder than the grates, and when the food meets the grates, the two stick together.

If you oil the grills when the temperature is below the smoke point, the maximum temperature that an oil can reach before it starts to burn, the oil in contact with the grids helps to release fats and proteins.

But if the oil is above the smoke point, it will charred instantly by smoking and making the food stick to the grill even worse. Furthermore, the smoke and charcoal taste is not good.

The best way to prevent food from sticking is therefore to oil the food, not the grill. In fact, cold food prevents fat from burning.

And now there are no more excuses: go, all to grill, and without clichés.

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