Grill and smoke using wood chips – While a charcoal grill can lend some amount of smoky flavor, it still can’t come close to the flavor from relying on various woods for extra smoke.
Grillmasters and people who smoke foods at home often look for new ways to produce delicious meals. Experimenting with rubs and marinades is one way to do it, as is using wood on a grill or smoker to impart intense, savory flavor.
Serious Eats says that grilling with wood is one of the best ways to add flavor that cannot be replicated to the same degree in the kitchen.
The first step to utilizing wood when cooking is to learn the basics of pairing flavors. For example, poultry does well with sweet, fruit-flavored wood chips, while pork and beef benefit from fuller flavored woods, like mesquite and hickory, according to grill manufacturer Char-Broil.
The grilling and smoking resource Grill Beast says there are many woods available to chefs. Acadia, alder, birch, cherry, maple, oak, and pecan are just a few. Home chefs can try different types of woods to see which flavor profile works best for their recipes.
Next up, cooks should decide on the size of the wood being used. The options include chips, chunks and logs. Logs are not very convenient for most meals and are best reserved for barbecuing in a pit. For some smokers and cooking methods that utilize low heat over the course of hours, or if you’ll be using the grill for slower cooking, large chunks of wood are appropriate because they’ll last longer. However, when grilling, many people find thin chips are their best option because they smoke quickly and are easy to move around and manage.
There are mixed reviews on whether or not to soak the wood prior to use. Some feel that it can affect the amount of time it takes the wood to get started in terms of chunks and logs. Others feel it adds to the production of smoke. Cooks can try different techniques to determine if soaking has a positive impact. Chips may need to be soaked; otherwise, they can ignite and extinguish before any real flavor is delivered to the food. Another workaround is to place the chips in a foil packet to prolong their longevity on the grill.
Over time, grilling enthusiasts can master the art of using woods to add flavor to their foods. Always use untreated wood that is safe for food. If you can’t identify the origins of a wood, it may contain pesticides or other chemicals that can be harmful. So only use those with confirmed origins.
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