When it comes to grilling and smoking, everyone is looking for that smokey, cooked over wood taste that seems to give all the food such a rich and exciting flavor. While this can be a mix of what kind of food you are cooking, how much seasoning is being used, and even if wind is getting to the area, arguably the biggest factor to getting this element right is what type of wood you are using to cook over. From the hardness, the size, and what type of wood you are using, there are a wide variety of elements that will factor into the outcome. If you are cooking over wood, here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the experience.
One of the first decisions you will have to make when cooking over wood is whether you will cook over hardwood or softwood. If you are looking for a wood that will provide a lot of heat and will last a long time, hardwood is the option you are looking for. For a quicker lighting fire however, softwoods won't produce as much heat and will light up faster. For cooking, fruit woods, such as apple or cherry, are outstanding options for cooking as the sweeter smoke that is given off will give the food a great added taste. If you do opt for the hardwood option however, the best choices to get that smokey flavor to your barbecue will be either hickory or mesquite, which are both very common and traditional woods in this scenario.
Another key element to not overlook when cooking with wood is the size that you will be using in your barbecue or smoker. The three standard options to choose from are chips, chunks, or logs. While each have their pros and cons, they also offer different features. Chips are a great option if you are looking to light the fire quickly. For long term cooking however, these are not a very good options as they burn up much quicker. For a standard grill or barbecue, chunks are ideally the best option. These pieces, roughly the size of a baseball or a fist, will light slightly slower than chips, but will burn much longer, providing to be a better resource for grilling. If you plan on cooking over fire pit however, logs are typically going to be your best option, as they will last the longest and are better suited for the bigger area.
Be sure to take into account how long you will be grilling for and how big the grilling space is before selecting which wood type and style fits your needs. Happy grilling!