Why is Pink Saturday always for the girls? I asked [The Man I Love] whether he could identify anything pink that could be interesting for men.
He's been working his way through the Steven Raichlen book "How to Grill - The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques." And he told me about the Pink Smoke Ring.
When meat is cooked by smoking it slowly over indirect heat, it exhibits a thin layer of pink coloring just under the surface crust. This is a result of a chemical reaction that causes nitric acid to build up as the smoke interacts with the water in the meat juices.
Backyard chefs and barbecue lovers look for the pink smoke ring to show that the meat was actually slow-smoked instead of boiled or steamed.
You've seen it probably most frequently in pork ribs, or in Texas-style beef brisket. You can also see it in chicken and turkey that has been cooked by smoking. It's unmistakable - that tinge of beautiful pink in the meat.
This pinkness also appears in Chinese barbecued pork, char siu, roasted over a wood-burning oven, and Indian tandoori chicken, roasted in a clay oven.
This little joint has been here since 1970, and it's a neighborhood fixture. The right time to go is when the big smoker is out on the grassy parking strip, and the fragrant smoke is in the air.
I ordered a couple of dinners to go, baby back ribs with two sides. While I waited I asked the man at the smoker if I could take a picture of the beef ribs he was smoking on the fire. He agreed, and then he said, "These are without the sauce, just the smoked meat. Wait a second, I'll get you a taste." He went into the restaurant and came out with a sharp knife, then tonged one slab onto the side, and cut off a generous rib. He wrapped it up in a piece of foil and tucked it into my to-go bag. Then he said, "My name is Narciso - just come here around this time each week. I'll be out here and you can get them fresh."
I thanked him, and drove home with my dinners - the smell made my mouth water all the way home!
Here's our dinner and one of the pork ribs. Can you see the pinkness?
The perfect accompaniment for it, I think, is a French Tavel wine - a rose.
Here's a great website that explains the Pink Smoke Ring - and other essential things about barbecue.