Showing the technique on how to add wood chips over charcoal to enhance the flavor of any meat, fish, or vegetable being cooked

Adding grill wood chips to charcoal brings added flavor to any cooking category

The questions are quite frequent: “Since (the equipment) uses lump charcoal, do you need to add wood for smoke flavor?” “Do wood chips or chunks work best if they are needed or desired?”  “Generally, how much lump charcoal does equipment use for 10 hours of smoke?”

Learn What To Do

The intent today is to give you a comfort with cooking fuel woods.  That includes charwood, charcoal, smoking wood chunks, and charcoal wood chips in all shapes and sizes.  Know that all these products are made from wood – hardwood to be specific since you never want to cook with any other type.  But, differences do exist between products.

Product Differences

Although the products listed above have their beginnings as hardwood trees, there are some noted differences between the products.

Charcoals:  Yes, charcoal starts out as wood but not all charcoals are created equally.  There are 2 distinct types of charcoal: briquettes and lump hardwood.  The key difference?

Briquettes are not pure charcoal but rather a combination of charcoal, coal, starch used as a binder, sawdust, and sodium nitrate for ease of lighting.  And, yes, that means they are not a “natural, organic” product.  In fact, some brands are manufactured with lighter fluid as an ingredient.

Lump hardwood charcoal is 100% hardwood that is sourced from flooring, building material, saw mill, and furniture manufacturers as a scrap wood or bye product.  With the use of these materials, a great deal of variation in the size of the charcoal is generated which translates to variation in carbonization of the wood.  Often, there is more carbon ash in this type of charcoal but as a 100% wood product, it is viewed as a “natural” product.  Keep in mind, many lump hardwood charcoals cannot be sold as a single wood type charcoal due to the production from scrap and bye product woods, so “mixed” hardwood is the general product.

Charcoals do not produce smoke or flavor.  They are intended strictly for heat with the output level dependent on the brand.

Charwood: Often described as possessing the consistency of briquettes and the organic benefits of lump charcoal, charwood is a term reserved for those products that have a higher carbonization level which makes them much more efficient as a fuel source.

Smoking Wood Chunks & Smoking Wood Chips: These are pure hardwood that can be used for both heat and flavor.  The difficulty?  Moisture.  All hardwood contains water and, depending on the level, ease of lighting and ability to burn or combust will vary.  This is the primary reason why most people do not use only wood when cooking but a combination of charcoal and wood.  The bigger reason?  Wood is the flavor producer!

So now that you know charcoal is for heat and hardwood is for flavor, how to you use both together for perfection in outdoor cooking?

 If you have a piece of equipment that can use both charcoal and wood, you’re on your way to absolute fantastic flavor.

Tips For Combining Charcoal and Hardwood

  • When adding both charcoal and hardwood, be sure to include a water pan to the equipment as humidity increases the smoky flavoring, helps to tenderize meat by breaking down collagen, and can give a better meat yield
  • A little wood goes a long way in terms of flavor so put only a few pieces to start – you can always add more
  • If you intended to cook for a long time, say a muscle meat like pork shoulder, then it’s important to have unlit charcoal within the equipment so that the few pounds of lit charcoal will gradually ignite the unlit and maintain the cooking temperature
  • Just like the unlit charcoal, you can place wood pieces (just a few now) along the unlit charcoal path so flavor is also time released
  • If meat/poultry juice will drip directly into the charcoal area (you have no drip pan in place) then note that this will stimulate smoke vapor off the hot coals as drippings contain sugars, proteins, oils and the ingredients used directly on the food item, meaning you may not need to use as much wood for smoky flavors
  • The choice of smoking wood chunks or charcoal wood chips is total up to the cook – chunks will combust longer than charcoal chips but if you’re looking for faster combustion for smoke vapor, chips can fit that need
  • Select a hardwood with a moisture level of 20-25% for maximum flavor infusion
  • Amount of coals needed for the heat/temperature is dependent on the brand of charcoal, method of cooking, and equipment. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 lbs. available for a full day cook

 Now your armed with the basics on cooking fuels and why a combination of products often is the best choice!

Learn 10 Things To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

As always, we’d love to start a conversation so leave a comment.

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Dr Smoke “A grill is just a grill until you add SmokinLicious® smoking wood chips.”

The sign is the entrance to the allegheny national forest which includes 513,175 acres or 801.8 square acres and includes the allegheny reservoir natural habitat

This Forest Covers 513,175 acres (801.8 square miles) and includes the Allegheny Reservoir Natural Habitat.

THE PRECIOUS FOREST

It is likely when you have your heart set on some wood-fired cooked foods that you give little attention to the wood that will be required for that cooking event.  You may have seen wood smoker chips or chunks available in your local box store and decided that you can always pick those up last minute, to be assured your plans aren’t foiled. Or, you simply plan to go with charcoal chips without considering that this product is made from wood as well.

STOP and ponder this for a moment – Do you realize where exactly those wood products come from?

Unless you are in a direct county of involvement, you likely haven not realized the invasions that are occurring readily to our forests, woodlots, and home landscapes.

To date, here are some of the diseases and infestations we are battling in the United States:

  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Whitebark Pine Beatle
  • Beech Bark Disease
  • Dutch Elm Disease
  • Butternut Canker
  • Asian Longhorn Beetle
  • Dogwood Anthracnose
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Balsam Woolly Adelgid
  • Laurel Wilt disease
  • Sirex Wood Wasp
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Polyphagous & Kuroshio Shot Hole Borer affecting sycamores, willows, oaks, maples (including Boxelder), and commercial avocado trees.

EVERY state in the US has battled imported forest pests with the hardest hit being New York State followed closely by MA, WI, IL, VA, MI, NJ, OH, and CA.  Every decade, 25 new insect pests are established in the US which can lead for potential decimate of an entire tree species in just decades.

So why if you are a lover of BBQ smoking chips or BBQ wood chunks (smoking using woodchunks or woodchips) or other wood fired foods, should issues with bugs be of concern?  Because cooking by fire is the oldest known cooking method for human kind.  Right now, you may simply enjoy 3 benefits of trees: for shade, for beauty (viewing), and for flavor to foods cooked on your grill/smoker.

But there are many other benefits:

  • Decrease atmospheric carbon by capturing and storing CO2
  • Improve air quality by filtering pollutants and releasing oxygen
  • Reduce storm water runoff and pollutants entering local water bodies
  • Increase property values by 3-7%

The pollutant removal alone that trees are responsible for provides a human health benefit worth $6.8 billion per year!  Trees keep us alive!

As of December 2016, NYS DEC has detected increased prevalence of Oak Wilt in the state which has no known treatment to contain and kill this fungus.  Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods for wood-fired cooking methods.

Please, take the time to source wood for cooking from reputable sources and follow the laws in place in your specific state to ensure we can limit the spread of these pests and diseases, and continue to enjoy the oldest method of cooking: by fire!

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Dr Smoke- “Appreciate our renewable resource.”

Smokinlicious Wood Blocks

Smokinlicious Wood Blocks- DrSmoke

 DON’T PUT US LAST!

Case Notes: A restaurant is preparing to open in a new location and made the decision to invest in an Italian made pizza oven that has an option for wood-fired cooking.  This equipment would take 6 months to manufacture and deliver to the USA, which gave the owners time to complete renovations on their new building in preparation for the free-standing oven’s installation.  During that time, menu development and plating options were reviewed and decided upon.

The one planning need that was left to the last minute – locating the supplier for the cooking hardwood and determining appropriate sizing for the new equipment!  WHY???

It always surprises me that restaurateurs are willing to spend $50,000 and up for commercial equipment that does a specific function or technique, yet they don’t spend the time before that purchase ensuring they can obtain the quality accessory needs to get every benefit from that investment.

Here’s the best part: often these equipment lines tote that they can do all sorts of functions including wood-fired cooking techniques.  The truth – they aren’t really promoting that function of their equipment line!  They simply want to sell you the equipment and have you use standard fuel options like electric and gas.  How did I come to this conclusion?  By the content of the user’s manual.

Many do not reference:

  • size of wood product needed for the equipment
  • how to light the product
  • how much of the product to use
  • where to locate a supplier of the cooking wood
  • pictorials of the steps to do the technique
  • provide a troubleshooting guide.

Do you really want to spend $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 and be left to fend for yourself with that investment?

Take the appropriate steps when considering additions to or replacements in your equipment line.  Research not only the equipment but what is needed to do the smoke infusion technique with that equipment.  Yes, wood chips are readily available even though there is a high level of variation between products.  But other products are not so easy to find like wood pieces larger than wood chips but smaller than split firewood logs.

In addition, wood-fired techniques can also require additional “tools” to be available in the kitchen that may not have been standard inventory before.

Such things as:

  • fire retardant gloves
  • fire grade tools like long handled tongs and a wood poker
  • a MAP canister/torch for lighting the fire
  • an infrared thermometer for reading temperatures within the cooking chamber
  • an ash receptacle.

Prioritize the needs of a wood-fired equipment addition by first reviewing the best option in equipment for your business’ need and second, assessing all the requirements of the wood to be successful in bringing this technique to your kitchen!

 

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TO THE BEECH WE GO!

Smokinlicious® is pleased to announce that we have added an eighth hardwood species to our product line.  Beech is now available in gourmet wood chips, double and single filet wood chunk, wood blocks and heartwood logs for purchase!

Here is the smoker’s introduction to this species

>> There are ten different varieties of Beech available around the world, but we will generally harvest American Beech or Red Beech(Fagus grandifolia Ehrh).

>> The heartwood is dark to reddish brown.

>> American Beech has been a popular choice for charcoal making because it burns so long.

>> Beech and Oak are part of the same wood family(Fagaceae), therefore, Beech is similar in flavor to White Oak.  It is considered a medium to bold flavor.  In our opinion it should be used mostly with beef, pork, venison and other wild game versus poultry.

We hope you try and enjoy this great addition to our hardwood family of products.  Remember all barbecue, NO bark!

 

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While we attended the “Big Pig Jig” in Georgia we noticed a significant amount of competing teams using the fire wood approach to cooking. The wood they were using for the smoking process was covered in bark! We discussed not only the health concerns but also the effect of the bitterness that bark imparts on the food. Some teams swore by its use as an added flavor additive to their cook product while others were very much unaware of the health concerns.

We all have allergies, no matter what part of the country we live in, the biggest contributor to this is the pollen from plants that are caught in the bark of the trees. This pollen is in the bark portion of the tree and will be released only during the burning process! Therefore this pollen will be either imparted into the foods that are being cooked or in the air. There are creatures of the world that use the bark of the tree for their home, which will be released only during the burning process. Likewise they will have an effect on the taste! While all teams are looking for the edge to win! My team and myself could not believe that the fire wood approach was so widely used!