The Smoke Ring Myth
The “smoke ring” is formed by nitrates curing the outer layers of the meat, it is not an indication of how well smoked a piece of meat is.
In a BBQ or Smoker, nitrates in the smoke will combine with moisture and the rub on the surface of the meat, this will penetrate the meat to a depth of a centimetre or so (1/2 inch) where it cures the meat.
The curing sets the Myoglobin (red pigment) in the meat to create the distinctive red coloured ring. Uncured proteins lose their colour and turn grey when they cook.
The Smoke Ring can also be “Manufactured” by adding small amounts of Nitrate Cure to your BBQ Rub.
This will give you that classic Ring of cured meat around the outside of your meat, no matter if it was cooked on fire or not.
Some Briquette fuels have Nitrate added so they produce the Smoke Ring effect reliably
BBQ Competition Judges are told to ignore the Smoke Ring because it can be produced without smoke in a gas or electric oven