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Syzygies

"Degree Days" rule for BBQ?

33 posts in this topic

Woodworkers are known to make rudimentary measurements, and they still enjoy their work!

I wasn't trying to be a troll, but I should have seen some resistance coming. My first year at a Fire Island beach house, I arrived to find that the old timers had claimed all the drawer space. Rather than whine about this, I lugged over a new dresser on the next trip, and made a chart assigning fractions as sizes for the various drawers in the room, suggesting that people be fair in claiming the new drawer space. I faced Kangaroo Court for this, but not because people took offense. They enjoyed having a pet mathematician who could cook, but they wanted to let me know that not everyone can do fractions.

This same crew made me miss the ferry back so I would stay behind to bone out the rest of the chicken I had brought out.

 

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@CeramicChef I made up the three stages based upon my experience to date. Please don't treat these as generally accepted BBQ facts. Throwing some meat on until it probes tender is a simple and proven technique for awesome BBQ. The only problem is it requires some planning and flexibility. It's done when it's done, not a minute sooner. In theory, given sufficient knowledge of the three stages, you could produce similar results to the tried and true method, but in a time span than better matches your time constraints. Possibly even better. Instead of spending 6 hours in the stall and 3 hours breaking down collagen, would you be better off spending 3 hours in the stall and 6 hours breaking down collagen. I couldn't give an opinion either way. But if I were forced to shave off some time to get dinner on the table, it would be nice to know where to cut.

Regarding a drop from 300 to 225. I say, just toss it in the oven. Or just let the grill cool down on it's own. Maybe start the cool down an hour early. Or wrap it in a cooler for a bit. Lots of options!

Maybe all of this is for nothing, but it keeps things interesting, in my opinion. BBQ science and art are not mutually exclusive concepts. Chemical reactions and secret spice blends make for some good eating!

(FYI, if you're accustomed to using SAS / SPSS, check out R. It's slowly become the dominate statistical package. Virtually every university student now uses it, and it's free...)

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I retired from Engineering for a reason! This discussion is making my brain hurt. :smt119

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13 minutes ago, tony b said:

I retired from Engineering for a reason! This discussion is making my brain hurt. :smt119

@tony b - I'm with you!

@egmiii - another software package replacing SAS and SPSS?  Yeah, R is Open Source and making real inroads.  Free is a great enticement.  I called a friend who teaches stat and is a consulting statistician and he speaks highly of R.  It's now the Big 3 instead of the Big 2.  Alas, R is too late for me! :)

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Most of my career was immersed in probability and statistics. Hence, my reticence in jumping back into a project like this. 

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I taught business calc and the stat sequence to both undergrad and grad students.  Loved the grad level stats.  The undergrad calc and stat not so much, but there were rays of  sunshine that made it all worthwhile.  I also did a lot of chaos theory stat analysis.  Not any more!

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So I’ve been digging into this a bit. There are some interesting characteristics of collagen that I’ve found diving through the biomedical literature.

First of all, collagen is not a pure chemical compound, like water or carbon dioxide. There are many different collagens that vary from species to species and even between parts of the body in the same animal.

Second, it appears that collagen denatures in the 105-115ºF range. This is under laboratory conditions, which may not be completely apply in a piece of meat. But given that the IT that we tend to shoot for with low and slow cooks (195-205ºF) is clearly higher than that range, there’s probably more to the denaturation of collagen to gelatin in a piece of meat than just hitting a given internal temperature.

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Collagen can denature at low temperatures. It breaks down in the human body over a period of days and is recycled. As the temperature rises, it breaks down much faster. I quoted 180-200 before because it breaks down at a pace quick enough tenderize the meat before it dries out. Like you said, it's a very complex process, and varies significantly across different animals / cuts of meat. I routinely add powdered gelatin to my pan sauces. It provides great texture and adhesion to the meat. Kenji Alt-Lopez does an excellent job breaking down the concepts in his book "The Food Lab".

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OK, I'm a mechanical engineer working as a structural analyst, just so you know where I'm coming from. Ive been BBQing for a decade or so, albeit with a traditional smoker. I love a good equation just as much as the next guy, but it seems to me that in the end, because there are so many variables, that you could only ever end up with something that would give you a range of cooking times. And in the end your personal fuzzy logic is probably pretty good at getting you 90% there anyway and either the temperature probe or the poke test gets you the other 10%! Those general cooking times are probably already available on the internets with a little searching.

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@kennyrayandersen - glad to have another engineer on the Forum. Helps keep the science real. 

If anyone has the computational power to do this, it's a serious Monte Carlo trial to develop a multi-dimensional response surface to map this out. :smt024 

Not this kid in a million years! 

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BBQ/grilling isn't science - go with the Zen of the cook. It's an art form.

Reef's Bistro

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I'm into the Zen camp at this point in life.  I got tired of most the quant stuff when I discovered Woodford Reserve!  :drinkers:

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