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What’s best? Charcoal or Wood?

We all want to barbecue our meat and produce the most flavourful meal possible.  But why do some grillers produce far better results than others?  It is often down to simply being the fuel they use.

First, I do not recommend using freshly cut, green wood that has not had the moisture cooked out of it. The resins and other constituents have the effect of tainting the flavour of your meat.  Lets just clarify that a bit further – simply cutting the wood a year before you intend using it, will not do the job either.  Natural weathered wood (seasoned wood) has almost as much oil and resin within it as does fresh cut wood – great for the camp fire, but not for placing a grill on top of.  Always burn the wood down to red hot coals before adding more to the fire when cooking.

Buy it on AmazonCharcoal, on the other hand, has much of the wood flavour cooked out. Not all of the flavour, but a considerable amount of it, which is why the flavouring wood chips industry exists.  The smoky flavour you taste when not using chips, comes from the fats and juices dripping on the coals, and then rising in the form of smoky vapour.

You could try locating small raw pieces of wood, wood shavings, or even hardwood sawdust, from a person or company doing woodworking.  Even a school woodworking shop has bins of sawdust.  Sprinkle or place these on the coals for additional wood flavouring.  Even better, these small pieces of wood are probably free!

Another good idea is to use woody herbs and spices as aromatic and flavour-adding smoke chips.  Soak them for a few hours so that they smoulder and smoke, rather than flash-burn.  They work best with grills that have a smoke hood and are designed for such use.  Some example spices that work well are natural cinnamon bark, liquorice root, many herb leaves, even lemongrass (keeps mosquitoes at bay too).

Experiment, have fun – it’s what barbecuing is all about.

Cookin!

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