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BBQ Wood Tips and Flavors

So what is " barbecuing "? Well Then, What is " grilling," really?
Barbecuing is a low heat method of indirect cooking. The heat surrounds the food being cooked, rather than being directly underneath it. This particular method involves a lot of wood smoke to cook and flavor the food.

Grilling is a quick cooking process that involves high direct heat to seal in juices while creating a concentration of flavor in the form of a crust on the outer surface of the food.

So what is " barbecuing "?

A low heat method of indirect cooking. The heat surrounds the food being cooked, rather than being directly underneath it. This particular method involves a lot of wood smoke to cook and flavor the food.

Know the facts about cooking with wood.
As the ownership of grills are on the rise, so are the invitations from friends to neighborhood barbecue events and thus starts the countless methods of marinating and flavoring the food for their feasts. Flavor is everything when preparing a meal on the grill- The one who contrives the greatest flavor, reaps the bragging rights and is the topic of discussion in the office and at the water cooler for weeks to come. From the earliest times man has tried to increase the flavor of his food, and historically with no regard for fat content or calories. We now live in a much more health conscience society, but we still yearn for the flavoring techniques that will keep our taste buds watering and our waist line trim.

The use of wood is one of those techniques that eliminates the added calories and fat, but doesn't compromise an ounce of flavor in doing so. In fact, depending on the type of wood used, it will inherently add a distinctive flavor to the food being grilled. Wood is a natural fuel source with no additives or preservatives, which can turn a second rate cut of meat into a succulent filet mignon.

The searing of the meat holds in the juices and prevents it from directly drying out , then the tantalizing smoke settles in and creates a flavor in the food that would make the most finicky eater return for a second helping. Because of the numerous choices deraling with what wood to use and how it should be used, it often overwhelms the average barbequer; however, the concept is relatively simple and largely depends on the discretion and the taste of the cook.

Burning Question # 1 ( How much more time does it take to cook with wood )? Whether the cooking is done with chunks, as a primary fuel source, or with chips for the flavoring, it takes no more time to cook with wood than with any other fuel source. The secret to the flavor is what takes place as the smoke from the wood penetrates through the food.

Burning Question # 2 ( What steps of preparation need to be taken for the wood )? Smoking woods come in two forms, chips and chunks. Chips are ideal for use in a gas grills or for direct cooking in a charcoal grill. It is recommended to soak the wood in water for fifteen minutes which forces the wood fibers to open and absorb more water so the wood smolders longer. Chunks burn for longer amounts of time and are ideal for indirect cooking in charcoal grills. Wood chunks can be used as the sole fuel source or can be used in conjunction with charcoal.The amount of smoke the wood produces provides the flavor to the meat, the more smoke the stronger the flavor, therefore the less smoke, the more subtle the flavor. Always cover the grill while cooking to allow the smoke to fully penetrate the food.

Burning Question # 3 ( How do I use wood in my grill )?  Charcoal Grill - In using a charcoal grill, the wood can be a primary fuel source by cooking with wood exclusively. Pile the wood in the center of the grill and burn until the flame is approximately one inch above the grate; sear the meat to capture its juices and place food around the outer edge of grill to use the indirect method of cooking. The chips can also be sprinkled over coals to produce exceptional flavor. Chips will smoke approximately fifteen minutes.

Gas Grill In using a gas grill, many have a smoker tray built into the grills or offer one as an added accessory; the tray keeps the heat directly off of the wood to prevent flare ups. If a tray is not available, wrapping two cups of wood with heavy duty aluminum foil and cutting small holes at the top is recommended. Place the foil pack next to the heat source where it will heat, but not burn. Close lid of grill to retain heat and smoke.

Electric Grill In using an electric grill, soak the wood in water for ten minutes. Place chips in pie tin, close lid of grill and allow to smoke.

Burning Question # 4 ( What type of wood needs to be used )? The type of wood is solely up to the taste of the cook, however, there are certain types of food that go better with certain types of wood. The rule of thumb is as follows:

Alder: Provides the least heat of all natural woods and is the best known in the Pacific Northwest where it is used to smoke salmon. It produces a sweet, but delicate flavor that is suited for the slow cooking of fish and pork.

Apple: The most popular of the exotic woods; produces an inherently sweet flavor that is very well suited for pork chops, poultry, ham and sausage.

Cherry: Produces very distinctive sweet flavor and tends to darken the meat. Is used with virtually any meat from steak, to pork and lamb, to ribs and turkey, and is even recommended for fish.

Hickory: Synonymous with the word barbecue, the single most popular wood and the choice of many blue ribbon barbecue teams. The pungent robust aroma alone makes most mouths water. Its claim to fame is ribs, burgers and pork, but also enhances any red meat; great for brisket, turkey and chicken.

Mesquite: Long in tradition that dates back from the rancheros in Mexico to the cattle drives through Texas. Especially popular west of the Mississippi River, where it grows abundantly. Provides a much hotter fire than most woods making it suitable for quick grilling. Is exceptionally suited for beef, but is also appropriate for poultry, ribs, venison and seafood.

Oak: Very versatile wood that is the favorite of many seasoned chefs. Enhances the taste of beef, ribs, sausage, lamb, game birds and even chicken.

Pecan: Burns cooler than most woods and provides a mellow rich flavor, and is popular with chicken and fish and most any meat.

Burning Question # 5- ( Where can these wood products be purchased )? Natural woods are available under a wide variety of name brands and in all types of retail stores, hardware stores, mass merchandisers, discount and club stores and home centers. . The majority of the supermarkets that carry charcoal, will also offer the natural wood chunks and chips in their label such as Royal Oak, Weber Stephens, Kingsford, and Hickory Specialties. The majority of all grill manufactures provide an accessory line which includes natural wood. Patio and Grill shops such as Barbeques Galore also offer a wide variety of natural wood.

Flavor Tidbits:

There are many spices that can be used in conjunction with the wood, a few common favorites are lemon pepper, garlic powder and meat tenderizer. Cooking with wood will add a terrific new dimension to your barbecuing. The flavors you can achieve are unlimited, because each wood lends a unique taste to each food. You have an opportunity to create to your hearts content by combining woods, blending the woods' flavor with other seasonings and food enhancers and varying the intensity of the smoke.

Try this simple recipe on a charcoal grill at your next cookout and count the number of compliments.

Golden Chicken Breasts:
Lemon Pepper
Chicken Breast halves (with bone and skin)
Garlic Powder
Meat Tenderizer (Accent)

Prepare the fire by stacking mesquite or hickory chunks in the center of the lower grill, let the flames die down to approximately an inch above the grate that the food is located on. Rinse the chicken thouroughly with cold water. Sprinkle the breasts with lemon pepper, garlic powder and meat tenderizer and rub in. Place chicken, bone side down around the outer edge of the grill. Cooking temperature should be about 250 degree farenheit. Place lid on grill and cook for 20 minutes, turn chicken, meat side down and cook for another 10 minutes, then finally turn one more time for 15 minutes. Serve with grilled vegetables, baked beans, bread and peach cobbler.

Good Luck and Enjoy many other of our recipes.