|Adding Wood to the Barbeque
Your barbecue is almost here. The coals for the barbecue
have burned in, the meat for the barbecue has been
prepped, and you all that is left between you and the
barbeque is adding wood to the mix.
You don't have to add wood to barbecue of course. The
coals will cook the meat by themselves, and all things being
equal you will end up with some nice tender meat.
But for my money, I don't think you can beat the taste of
smoke infused Q. Some barbecue experts ONLY use wood
- So let's put the wood to it!
At the start of the cook there are a couple of variables you
need to consider when adding the wood, and one variable
that I will inject that comes from the technique that we prefer
to use when smoking - we'll get to that in just a moment.
First, let's review briefly how we got to this point: You've
soaked your wood, the coals have be burned in and spread
out, and the temperature is....what? You will need a little bit
of reasoned judgment here.
If you are using lump charcoal, like I like to use, then your
fire is going to tend to be a little bit hotter than if you use the
same amount of briquettes.
That means your wood is going to dry faster on the lump fire
and contribute even more heat to the fire. So you may want
to consider using a little less wood with lump than you do
If your wood is not thoroughly soaked, and/or when you are
using one of the hotter burning woods like mesquite,
hickory or oak, the addition of the wood that bursts into
flame will raise the temperature of your fire.
You'll remember from the temperature section that we want
to keep the smoking temperature in the ideal range of 200`F
- 250`F. My preferred temperature is 225`F. Burning wood
can quickly and dramatically raise the temp above this level.
The result is not just quicker cooking on the outside, which
can retard the process of smoke infusion and slow fat
rendering, it can also cause some charring on the surface
of the meat. A little of that is nothing to worry about, indeed
many people love this charred coating, just make sure not
to overdo it.
But, you do want to add enough to get that irreplaceable
smoky flavor penetrating the meat here at the beginning of
the cook. Especially if you choose to follow some of my
smoking techniques that call for an hour or so of naked
smoking in the beginning, followed by covering the meat in
foil. For more on that, let's go to the section we call Cooking
the First Hour.
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