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Useful Common wood species.
Almost any hardwood makes very good coals for cooking. Normally, the
denser the wood, the more lignin, and, therefore, more BTUs per cubic volume.
Most common, in alphabetical order:
Apple/Pear, ash, beech, birch, butternut/walnut, cherry, hickory/pecan,
Regional and miscellaneous:
Mesquite, alder, citrus, any edible fruit, nut or berry, persimmon,
sassafras, gum, pimiento, grape leaves and vines, hackberry, elm, chestnut,
China berry/mahogany, Osage orange, teak, tung, madrone, buckeye
Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, Oleander, pine and other resinous woods.
Flavor quotient for common woods suitable for
broiling, roasting and
Hickory, and to a lesser degree, its cousin the pecan, are powerful
flavoring woods. A little goes a long way. The wood makes great coals. When
barbecuing or roasting, I use about 20% hickory and 80% oak/apple/etc.
Mesquite has a potent flavor that some like and many dislike. I am of the
latter group. The wood makes excellent coals for broiling and, used in this
manner, does not overpower the meat flavor and become offensive.
Oak is the wood most commonly used for outdoor cooking. It imparts
excellent flavor without becoming too strong with normal cooking
techniques. Oak is outstanding for broiling or barbecuing. I prefer white
over red, but use them interchangeably.
Fruit woods - apple, pear, quince, cherry, etc and maple, beech, birch and ash are mild flavored excellent choices for barbecuing and make excellent
coals for broiling.
Alder, mulberry, citrus, willow are mild flavored woods that are excellent
for fish, poultry and seafood. They are softer woods and therefore do not
make as potent embers as the harder woods.
Sassafras, bay and pimiento produce identifiable flavors which some might
find intrusive. Use sparingly until you are familiar with the taste.
If you live in a deforested area without easy access to wood, using an
insipid charcoal and want to spruce up (just kidding - spruce is a no-no)
the flavor for broiling, try the following. Bring the coal bed up to proper
temp. - 5-700 degrees - and add a mere handful of green wood chips or small
limbs, or wood chunks soaked for a couple of hours or sawdust soaked
likewise. Wait until the smoke is intense and the temperature has returned
to the proper level. Plop on the meat and close the lid - with good draft
top and bottom. In a couple of minutes, turn the steak/burger and close the
lid again. You should have plenty of smoke flavor. Beware that the meat
will cook quicker with the lid closed. Don't over cook.
For roasting and barbecuing under the same circumstances, the cheapest
route is to go in with a few friends and buy a cord (4'x4'x8') of dry
hardwood. Then you can burn down some wood for the coals while it is
heating up the grill. You wont need to add any smoke flavor.
Lacking that opportunity, when the grill is ready to start cooking, toss in
a double handful of wood, as above, throw on the meat and close the lid. Do
that once again in about 30 minutes. That is probably all the smoke flavor
that you need, but if you have become hooked on cresote, you can do it one
more time. Beyond that, the meat has sealed and will absorb no more smoke
flavor. Smoke will, however, continue to pile up on the outside with bitter
It is my studied opinion that if the would-be cook spent at least half as
much time learning technique as he did chasing exotic fuel, he would be a
10 times better cook. For those mathematically inclined that formula is
[1/2a + 1/2b=110 ]
And that ain't just blowing smoke.
© 1998 by Smoky Hale
C. Clark Hale
8168 Hwy 98 E.
McComb, MS 39648
Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
who is solely responsible for its content. Comments
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