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Unread 01-14-2013, 06:06 PM   #1
Trumpstylz
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Default Best wood chunk type if using over charcoal

I was reading about the different wood types and it got me thinking- I'm sure Apple, cherry, and pecan are excellent when you are using them in a stick burner, but when i see the words "subtle" to describe them, I think that the flavor imparted might be so subdued when using with charcoal that one might not notice it as much as say, hickory.

Those of you who do like the fruit woods more than hickory or oak, do you still prefer them when only cooking with one chunk on top of/buried in some charcoal? Or is my statement correct in that most of the fuel being charcoal, hickory is the best to add smoke flavor that is not too faint.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 06:10 PM   #2
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I use 3-4 fist sized chunks when using my WSM or Cajun Bandit. Apple is great with chicken, pecan is excellent with pork.


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Unread 01-14-2013, 06:15 PM   #3
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I use apple, peach, sugar maple, hickory, oak, and some cherry in my offset "stick burner", sometimes just wood, but mostly over and with charcoal. I like them all, and no, it's not too subdued over charcoal.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:04 PM   #4
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And the milder fruit woods still come through, even when using with charcoal?
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:10 PM   #5
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A bit of a fine point, but I don't use wood chunks "over" charcoal, I use it dispersed throughout the charcoal.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trumpstylz View Post
And the milder fruit woods still come through, even when using with charcoal?
Yes. I can't compare to a stick burner because I don't have one but there is no doubt that the smoke flavor comes through. I did a series of tests with various types of smoking wood (and I highly recommend that to anyone) and the flavors of the different woods was striking.

Depending on the meat, the smoke flavor could be overlooked, such as some subtle woods and beef, but with mild flavors such as fish, the smoke flavor of any woods really comes through.

I did some chickens today using hickory, apple and cherry chunks distributed through the briquettes and there is no doubt that the smoke flavor came through. (In other words, I'm stuffed! )
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trumpstylz View Post
And the milder fruit woods still come through, even when using with charcoal?
Just for the record I don't consider apple or black cherry mild, more like medium-strong, a step below hickory. I like using apple when I cook on the kettle with charcoal, gives me a nice smooth smoke flavor.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 07:44 PM   #8
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Wood burns efficiently at one speed. You don't need a big piece of wood to get a good smoke, in fact, when it comes to making "thin blue smoke," bigger is NOT necessarily better. The key is to have small amounts of wood burn efficiently, so you get sweet smoke flavor, and not bitter, over-smoked flavor.

I use charcoal for heat on my WSM, and mix some wood chunks in, using the Minion method. If needed, I add small amounts of wood chunks, so I can still smell wood smoke, but not too much at a time, so I don't get thick white smoke.

Certain principles apply whether you use a stick burner, or use charcoal and chunks. Either way, you want mostly hot coals for heat, and small amounts of wood for smoke.

I follow my nose. If I smell wood smoke, I leave it alone, if I don't I add a few wood chunks, right on top of some red-hot coals. IMO, the best smoke is smelled, not seen.

As for the kind of wood to use, that is subjective. I like pecan for lots of meats, apple for pork, and oak for beef. But, honestly, I've used the "wrong" wood from time-to-time, and didn't find any fault in the meat. The only wood I don't like for long cooks is Mesquite. I like it for steaks, but it is too strong for my tastes on BBQ. Personal preference.

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Unread 01-14-2013, 09:44 PM   #9
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I am a huge fan of 2/3 hickory and 1/3 cherry. The two complement each other beautifully, and the cherry adds great color.

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Unread 01-14-2013, 10:17 PM   #10
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Apple, white oak, and cherry
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Unread 01-14-2013, 10:49 PM   #11
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1/2 cherry/ 1/2 pecan for me on my UDS and BBQ vault
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Unread 01-14-2013, 11:19 PM   #12
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i used the weber wsm charcoal smoker mainly - and usually used a water logged big chunk of hickory which i throw on top of the pile of hickory. i use hickory for everything except salmon--salmon where i love alder wood.

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Unread 01-14-2013, 11:38 PM   #13
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I smoke in a UDS or kettle, always with charcoal and wood, I use apple the most, with smaller amounts of oak, sometimes pecan. I rarely use hickory as I have yet to find that sweet spot with it in my kettle. I think the opposite of your supposition is true, that a all wood hickory and oak smoke in a stick burning offset gives a milder smoke, for the same wood types, than does a smaller direct fire cooker.

I use three to four chunks, fist or smaller sized.
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Unread 01-15-2013, 01:33 AM   #14
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I like Apple for chicken and ribs. I think it gives it a great flavor with a touch of sweetness, if that makes sense.
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Unread 01-15-2013, 01:59 AM   #15
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The key is the starting temp, pretty much regardless of the wood you use. When hot smoking, the meat is only going to take up smoke to a certain point. Once the meat reaches a temperature that seals the outler layer, the meat will not take anymore smoke.

If you want a lot of smokyness, start at a lower temp, with whatever wood / charcoal mix that you feel compliments your cut of meat and rub /injection/marinade etc.

Start low to get the smoke, and finish a little higher in temp, so that you're not sitting there for 2 days waiting for it to be done. Like for spares... a lot of people start low. 180-200F, and then after the first hour, bring it up to 225, then 275 and sometimes a lot more. It means you can get good smokey ribs in 4 hours rather than 6 or 7.

Cheers!

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