Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: I am surround by hickory trees . . . .
Subject: Re: Fresh cut hickory vs. seasoned wood
I get, and enjoy, your newsletter, so I'm confident you'll know the answer to my question. I live in Upstate New York, surround by hickory trees. A friend has offered to cut a tree for me for my smoker. I think that it would be too smokey, and that seasoned wood, alone, should be used. Who's right?
You don't even say "Hello Smoky" and you don't even sign your name. I am going to excuse you one time because you live in upstate New York. But your Mama, would chastise you, severely for your lapse of manners.
As you might imagine, I cook on the grill a lot. I feel fortunate to have a goodly supply of hickory trees on the place.
Not ever would I consider cutting down a hickory tree just for cooking.
What I do, instead, is go trim a lower limb from a hickory tree when I feel that it is imperative to add a little additional hickory flavor to a good hardwood charcoal bed. For barbecuing a pork loin and two racks of ribs, I might use as much as 8-10 3/4-1" pieces of green hickory 10-12 inches long over the total cooking period.
Last year, we lost a large hickory to high winds. I had it cut up into 24-30" pieces and split. When I use that to cook, I mix 20% max. hickory to oak and burn the wood down to embers before exposing my meat to it.
It is my fond hope and intense desire that, before I go to inspect the place where fires are reputed to be fierce and unceasing, I can spread the word to all that too much smoke spoils the taste of meat.
If you are overrun with hickory and good forestry practices would indicate the need to thin one out, use all of it. The small limbs are as flavorful as the trunk and easier to limit their effect. While green, the wood can be used in very small amounts to add flavor. When dry, either soak small pieces for a week or so, or burn the big pieces down to embers.
Think of smoke as like salt. A little enhances the taste. Too much renders the food unpalatable.
Yours for better tasting,