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March Networking Lunch Recap, Dr. Paul Kuber - "The Science of BBQ"

INBA was lucky enough to welcome Dr. Paul Kuber, of Washington State University’s Animal Sciences Department, to our March networking lunch. This was a fun alternative to our typical business and community themed lunches, with lots of enthusiasm from the audience as Dr. Kuber shared his knowledge of “The Science of BBQ.”

If we hadn’t placed a time limit on him, Dr. Kuber probably could have shared hours worth of grilling and prep knowledge. Lucky for you, we’re going to summarize his presentation.

Dr. Kuber has a degree in animal sciences and worked in Australia before heading to Washington State University to pursue his Ph.D. and to [the] Ohio State University to teach for 11 years. He primarily teaches groups of business professionals on how their business lines up with the farming and animal sciences industry, so presenting to INBA came as naturally as picking up a steak at the supermarket (a skill he’s developed as a sixth sense over the years.)

diamond-grill-marks
I’m getting hungry just writing this.

According to Dr. Kuber, the perfect steak combines appearance, aroma, and flavor.

Appearance, including those grill marks on that savory steak to the left come from the caramelization of glucose contained in the muscle, rising to the surface and coming into contact with the hot metal. The rest of the steak -or chicken, or pork, or veggies, even- assumes that perfect light brown caramel coating.

Aroma, according to the meat master Dr. Kuber, is the most important factor in getting the grill just right. In fact, aroma almost completely controls flavor of anything that goes into your mouth. To prove this, he passed out a small cup filled with two colors of jellybeans to every table. Now, if anyone saw the advertisements for lunch and didn’t attend, this is what that jellybean graphic was all about. Participants were instructed to hold their nose closed and eat a jellybean, assessing the flavor through the sensation of taste alone (There was little to no taste in either of the jellybean flavors – at first) then, release their nose and report what they tasted. In both flavors (‘Dr. Pepper’ & ‘Draught Beer’) the flavor came rushing forward as soon as the sense of smell was involved.

Spices have the same effect on the sensory pallet, their taste coming more from the aromatic qualities than anything else. This is why Dr. Kuber says it’s important to use fresh spices versus dried spices because the dehydration process removes those potent aromatic oils.

Finally, flavor. If there’s one doctrine for any grill-master to live by, Dr. Kuber says it’s this:

Fat is flavor!

Japanese Kobe Wagyu A5 Ribeye
The holy grail of beef: Japanese Kobe Wagyu A5 Ribeye

He couldn’t be more adamant that fat is the number one factor leading to high-quality meat dishes for your dinner table. The easiest way to identify a high-grade cut of meat is by the amount of marbling throughout the cut, or the white flecks and streaks of fat within the lean sections of meat. Also called intramuscular fat, marbling adds flavor and in general, the more marbling it contains, the better a cut of meat is.

Each degree of marbling is divided into 100 subunits. In general, however, marbling scores are discussed in tenths within each degree of marbling (e.g.,Slight 90, Small 00, Small 10). Below is the USDA guidelines for grading beef products on the level of their marbling.

Thank you Dr. Kuber for getting us ready for the best summer grilling season we’ve ever had. If you’d like to take a look at Dr. Kuber’s presentation, We’ve attached it here:  INBA_BQQ-Art or Science3

INBA barbecue anyone?

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