Saturday, May 21, 2011
Grilling with Wood
Don't bother with wood chips. Those are the wrong tool for the job. You need chunks like the ones pictured above. And you don't need a lot. One, two or three, depending on size, will be more than enough to impart an incredible smoke flavor to whatever you are grilling.
Now, which wood to use for what? If you don't like reading, just skip down to "Wine Barrel". Otherwise, follow this guide:
Alder: Light, sweet flavor. Best with fish, pork and poultry.
Apple: Mild in flavor and gives food a sweetness. This is good with poultry and pork. Apple will discolor chicken skin (turns it dark brown) but doesn't impact taste.
Apricot: Great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.
Cherry: Sweet, mild flavor that goes great with virtually everything. This is one of the most popular woods for smoking.
Grape: Makes a lot of tart smoke and gives a fruity but sometimes heavy flavor. Use it sparingly with poultry or lamb.
Hickory: Adds a strong flavor to meats, so be careful not to use to excessively. It’s good with pork, beef and lamb. Try mixing with oak to tone it down a bit (two chunks oak, one chunk hickory).
Maple: Gives a sweet flavor that is excellent with poultry and ham.
Mesquite: Good for grilling, but since it burns hot and fast, it's not recommended for long barbecues. Mesquite is probably the strongest flavored wood; hence its popularity with restaurant grills that cook meat for a very short time. Great for steak, burgers and shellfish.
Nectarine: Great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.
Oak: Strong but not overpowering and is a very good wood for beef or lamb. Oak is probably the most versatile of the hard woods.
Peach: Great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.
Pecan: This is incredibly versatile, so I always have this on hand. Burns cool and provides a delicate flavor. It’s a much subtler version of hickory. I use it for pork, poultry and beef.
Plum: Great for poultry and pork. This wood is similar to hickory but is sweeter and milder in flavor.
Wine Barrel: This is my secret weapon. They take old oak barrels that were used to age Cabernet Sauvignon and cut them up into chunks. Use this for steak!!!! Your steak will come away with the most incredible taste of oak and Cabernet Sauvignon. If you only buy one type of wood noted on this blog, this is the one to buy.
Woods to AVOID would include: cedar, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, pine, fir, redwood, sassafras, spruce, and sycamore.
If you want to buy a small sampler to get started, I would recommend cherry, hickory, mesquite, oak, pecan and wine barrel.
I buy all of my wood at the Charcoal Store: http://www.charcoalstore.com/