When cooking with premium ingredients, we are tempted to keep things simple. However, that often means missing out on some of the best parts of cooking which is experimenting with new flavors and textures.
One of the ways to experiment with meat is using wood to enhance the flavor of your meat. I love adding some wood chunks to the charcoal before I grill a Picanha as it makes it taste completely different.
Grilling With Wood
First off, know that we are not talking about smoking. You do not need a smoker to use wood to add flavor to your grilling. You can use wood chips and wood chunks on a gas grill or a charcoal grill; it is actually a very simple and rewarding process. The smoke from the added wood is going to make your meal just as tender, but taste completely different.
You cannot just use any wood though. Trust me, I have tried. You do not want left over wood from your home improvement projects. There's also a high chance these woods have been treated with chemicals you don't want to be releasing by burning. The idea is to use hardwoods with low moisture and high density.
The more popular types of wood to use are Apple, Pecan, Hickory and Cherry. Each of them will be better for certain meats as they add very particular flavor. This is where the experimenting starts.
Here is how we suggest you start out:
Wood Chips Vs Wood Chunks
Wood chips are small pieces of wood will burn very quickly (even when wet). They're best for shorter cooks or if you're just looking to get a little bit of smoky flavor in your meats. Wood chips are ideal for the grill and even gas grills. Wood chips SHOULD be soaked in water for 1-2 hours so that they do not burn out too fast.
Wood chunks, on the other hand, are more suited for longer smokes. Since our wood chunks are freshly cut and naturally cured, you can use them as they are, or you may prefer to soak them in water, apple juice, wine, beer, whiskey, or any liquid of your choice. If you have any leftover wood, let them dry out to use again later.
How Do I Use Wood Chips?
Easy! First soak your wood chips for 1-2 hours. Then, put the moist wood chips in a smoker box, directly on the coals, or in a smoking chip pan, depending on your grill or smoker. That's how simple it is.
How Do I Use Wood Chunks?
When using a charcoal grill, place the wood chunks directly on your coals when lighting them. When coals are ready (using tongs) move the wood chunks to the side, away from the coals. This allows the wood chunks to smolder without flaming up. If you are doing a long smoke, you will need to continue feeding your smoker/grill with wood chunks over the period of the smoke.
When using a gas grill, place several chunks on cooking surface about ten minutes before cooking. They will get hot on the cooking surface and release smoke. Close the cover while cooking so that your food will absorb the great wood flavor. You may also place your wood chunks in small cast iron skillet on the cooking surface.
The key to achieving superior flavor is the temperature control and the length of time in the smoking process. Try using your wood chunks lightly until you know just how strong a flavor you prefer. You may also try mixing wood flavors e.g. Hickory and Oak.
What Wood Should I Buy?
We believe in buying wood from providers that care about the environment and will give you hardwood with no fillers or substitutes.
We work with Black Dog Firewood because they have been around for over 30 years, more importantly they source properly. All of their firewood products are manufactured from approved raw material and production sources, and all forest wood products that we supply come from renewable sources. Black Dog is committed to Earth Friendly Practices, and you can be assured that they work hard to maintain stringent standards for all our products.
Black Dog only heat-treats their kiln dried firewood, because they don’t believe that anyone wants to eat food that was cooked with chemically-treated firewood.
When you buy this wood you are contributing to Florida All Retriever Rescue, an organization that helps Black Dogs find new homes.