The Secrets to Achieving That True Smoky Barbecue Flavor

Apr 18 20:45 2010 Terry Kuhn Print This Article

If you've ever wondered how to get that true smoky barbecue flavor, you can't miss this article.  The author shares his knowledge on just how this is done.

Have you eve been to a rib joint or a backyard barbecue and wondered just how they got that beautiful smoky taste in their food?  Well,Guest Posting it's not as difficult as it might seem.  There are a few tips and techniques that I am going to share with you that will (with a little practice) make you into a real 'barbecue pitmaster'. 

It all begins with the choice of fuel.  While gas (propane and natural) is very quick and convenient, it simply cannot, by nature, give you that mos t sought-after smoke flavor.  It's not the best fuel choice for our goal here today.

A charcoal fire is the most traditional and popular method for those after that great barbecue taste.  Charcoal is made from hardwood among other things, which is the key to getting the right flavor.  There's a choice here too, briquets or lump (natural) charcoal.  I generally start my fire in a charcoal chimney with briquets then add lump charcoal if needed.  The reason for this is that lump charcoal ignites cleaner and does not give off the acrid smoke and possible bad taste.  Lump charcoal also burns hotter and shorter than the briquets. 

Oh, by the way, NEVER use lighter fluid to start your fire.  It has a tendency of giving the food a 'diesel-like' flavor.  Always start you fire in a charcoal chimney.  This is a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way to go.  The heat is funneled straight up and ignites the charcoal more evenly and quickly. 

There are some people who use nothing but wood in their grills and smokers.  Many varieties of hardwood can be used by itself with amazing results.  I'll tell you about the different types of wood in a minute.

But the method mos utilized by us barbecue enthusiasts is a combination of both charcoal and hardwood.  By combining these two, you get the best of both fuels.  The charcoal ensures a longer sustaining fire, while the hardwood adds to the smoky flavor.

Now let's talk about hardwood.  There are many varieties to choose from here too.  I will cover the most popular ones used, but don't feel limited to these suggestions.  Try experimenting with others.

ALDER
Alder is a very delicate wood with a hint of sweetness.  It goes good with poultry, fish, pork and some game birds.

APPLE
Apple is a favorite of mine in combination with hickory when doing pork ribs.  It has a mildly sweet fruity flavor.  It's also good with poultry.

CHERRY
Cherry is another of the fruity and mild hardwoods.  It's also good on pork, and some beef cuts.

HICKORY
Hickory is by far the most commonly used hardwood in barbecue.  Its' sweet and strong flavor is good with ham, pork and beef.  A very good choice when grilling steaks.

MAPLE
Maple is a mellow and smoky wood with a hint of sweetness.  If you like to smoke cheese, this is the wood for you.  It is also good with pork, poultry and game birds.

MESQUITE
Mesquite wood burns hot with a strong earthy flavor.  It is popular in the south, especially Texas.  It's good with beef, fish, chicken and some game birds.

OAK
Oak gives a heavy smoke flavor.  Red Oak is really good on ribs, while White Oak is a longer burning wood.  Use Oak on red meat, pork and fish.

PECAN
Pecan is a very good choice for smoking.  It has a subtly sweet and mild flavor.  Pecan goes well with poultry, beef and pork.  It also works well when smoking cheese.

Some other woods that give great smoke are: Almond, Ash, Birch, Grapevines, Mulberry, Pear and the sweet fruitwoods like Apricot, Plum, Peach and Nectarines.  These are all suitable for smoking so, do some experimenting.

The following are a few unsuitable woods for grilling and smoking that possibly could even be poisonous.  Stay away from: PINE, FIR, SPRUCE, REDWOOD, CEDAR and CYPRESS.  Also ELM, EUCALYPTUS, SASSAFRAS and SYCAMORE are woods NOT to use.

I'm sure if you follow these guidelines, with a little practice you'll achieve that wonderful smoky taste that we all strive for.  Good luck and good eating.

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Terry Kuhn
Terry Kuhn

Click on these links to find out more about grilling and barbecue.  You can also read product reviews on the latest backyard barbecue equipment and grilling tools and accessories.

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