A lot of barbecue enthusiasts will agree that smoke is the essence of barbecuing. It is what differentiates barbecue from other types of cooking. In fact, all barbecue and grilling was originally done with logs of dried hardwood as the sole fuel source. Heat cooked the meat, and smoke from the wood and from dripping juices imparted a distinctive seductive scent that is the essence of barbecue. This was how smoke woods were used back then.
Grilling with wood is one of the greatest advantages to cooking food over a fire, providing the unique opportunity to add a flavor that just can’t be accomplished to the same degree inside a kitchen. Here we tell give you tips in an attempt to share with you this authentic experience which you can only comprehend if you try it yourself. So go ahead and try using smoke woods on your next barbecue event.
There are three basic sizes of wood you can choose from:
Chips are scraps and shavings of wood that ignite quickly, but also burn out pretty fast. The biggest advantage of using chips are they are readily available in a wide variety in stores. However, the short burn time is a drawback.
Pellets are made by compressing wet sawdust and extruding it in long pencil thick rods. They are then broken into small bits about 1/2″ long. Pellets can be fed into the fire in a very controlled manner and hence, can be regulated with a thermostat, making them very controllable.
Chunks are usually about fist-size pieces of wood and is known as the best choice for getting things smoking. They take longer to fully ignite than chips, but burn for a good hour in a grill, and hours in a smoker. Chunks are sold pretty inexpensively all over the internet too.
Logs are full pieces of wood and these are best reserved for barbecuing in a pit or with an offset smoker. In terms of grilling, however, logs serve much of a use because they take a long time to get to the point where you cook over them and produce more smoke than you’ll probably ever need when grilling.
In addition to size, there are also different types of wood that you can choose from for you to use. Here is a quick guide:
Mild woods include alder and fruitwoods like apple and cherry. The smokiness in these woods tend to be mild, with hints of a fruitiness or sweetness. The mild woods pair best with more delicate meats like chicken and fish.
Oak and hickory are the workhorses of medium woods. Oak is the gold standard of many barbecue enthusiasts because it provides a distinct smoke flavor without being too overpowering. Hickory is heavier than oak, with a stronger flavor that’s good for larger cuts of meat.
There are also heavy woods out there but the most known of all is the Mesquite which is also the strongest of all the smoke woods. Mesquite is the wood of choice for Texas barbecue too.