Dear BBQ Friend:
Just exactly what happens when you are cooking barbecue? And when I say "cooking barbecue", I mean slow smoking barbecue - not grilling directly over high heat. First of all... meat is made up of mostly protein
muscle fibers held together with collagen strands along with a little bit of fat. Three things happen when you apply TOO MUCH heat to meat...
Cooking barbecue (slow smoking) is different because of the lower heat involved. Here's what happens when meat is cooked at a lower temperature for a long time...
If you are experienced at cooking barbecue, you know about the "barbecue plateau" where your meat tends to get stuck at a certain temperature (around 165 deg F) and stay there. An experienced pit master knows this is when all the "good
stuff" is happening... your collagen strands are unwinding, your fat is melting, and your muscle proteins are slowly relaxing instead of seizing up.
So... the "barbecue plateau" is a good thing. When your internal meat temperatures start to rise after the plateau, you need to start checking for doneness because any further cooking will tend to dry your meat out.