|Using Wood during a Barbeque
Wood is the essence of a good smoke. I never conduct a smoke without some
kind of wood.
The flavor imparted by wood burning, and smoking, in the smoker is what we
strive for during our cook. There are cooks who will use only charcoal, and there is
no denying that charcoal will impart a good flavor to food as well, but we like the
richness and definition that we think only comes from wood smoke.
Wood comes in all shapes and sizes, and while wood is good for a great many
things, not all wood is appropriate for a barbecue. Do not use resinous woods -
the smoke will impart an unpalatable taste to the meat, and the build up on your
smoker would not be good.
Wood can be matched to food that you are cooking, much as a wine can be. If you
are cooking something with a more subtle, delicate flavor, such as chicken
perhaps, you may want to use a wood that gives off a milder smoke.
More flavorful cuts of meat, such as a pork butt, can stand up to more aromatic
wood like Hickory, Good strong steaks match up great with a strong wood like
So while there are some rules of thumb regarding complementing the meat with
the right strength of smoke, you may want to experiment to find your preferences.
One thing we will point out though is that you can use too much wood.
Too much wood can do a couple of things. It can cause a damaging spike in temperature in your smoker if it ignites and flames together.
Wood used in too great a quantity also can create too much smoke - too much for the meat to handle. Remember, one of the
fundamental goals of any type of cooking is to marry ingredients in the proper proportion so that they complement and bring out the best
in each other.
Ever dip your finger in the batter of a yet-to-be cooked chocolate cake? Or licked the batter from one of the beaters from the mixer? Pretty
good stuff, even though you haven't cooked it yet. How do you think you would like that same cake if you ate the same ingredients one by
one, instead of after they are mixed. We bet not nearly so much!
Same thing here. The goal is to balance the flavor that a correctly cooked piece of meat can provide with the amount of flavor that the
smoke from wood can provide.
I love a good steak, and when in the mood for it I love steak seasoned with mesquite smoke. Absolutely love it! But it is not hard to use too
much mesquite in a fire, and have the smoke flavor overwhelm the amount of flavor brought by the meat.
|Wood can come from different manufacturers, just make sure you are getting the real stuff in good sized, usable chunks.
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