October 2019


Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment - So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment – So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

listen to this pod cast

to IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & Grill WITH

 

IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH? Click To Tweet

The question is one of the most common we hear.  What is the most popular wood you sell? 

Initially, our response was that there wasn’t one hardwood that was dominating the order system.  That certainly has changed over the course of the past few years.

Without question, Hickory has become the most requested hardwood.

Why Hickory The Wood To Smoke?

I truly believe the catalyst for the popularity of hickory particularly for smoking foods, is television and YouTube.  Yes, all those cooking and food shows and YouTube channels have catapulted grilling/smoking with wood and charcoal leaning toward Hickory.  As if Hickory is the only choice for “real” barbecue.

Some of the roots of the popularity of Hickory is the generational secrets of barbecue.  Hickory has been, for many decades, a commonly found hardwood in the traditional barbecue states who are credited with bringing barbecue to the limelight.  North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and then advancing west to such states as Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.  Gradually, those who wanted to duplicate the smoke flavors of the south continued to request hickory.  The result: hickory has become one of the highest demand hardwoods in North America.

Is There a Holy Grail for Smoking Wood?

Without question, those known in the world of barbecue as major players have stimulated the belief that their choice in smoking wood is the key to their success and notoriety.  Here’s is the conflict: many fail to admit that there are many other factors that account for their success.  Although they may have made their mark by sticking with that one wood for the entire time they cooked and gained popularity, they also committed to specific equipment, fuel product say a specific brand of charcoal, meat supplier, whether they keep the bark on the wood or remove it, and brands or recipes for rubs/sauces/marinades.  ALL these items factor into the overall success of a cooking event even in barbecue.

Life of the Tree is Key

I won’t get into the details about one brand of charcoal or briquette over another, or the influence of a wet or dry rub on the meat’s ability to absorb smoke vapor.  Those discussions will be for another day.  What I will stress is that the climate and soil of tree’s location is by far a key determinate in whether it will make a great smoking or grilling wood.  Specifically, the more balanced the pH level of the soil the tree’s roots are bound to and the amount of precipitation the tree is exposed to in a given year, directly affect how favorable the wood will be for smoking, grilling, and cooking in general.

I’m often told by new customers who had previous experience with hickory and found it to be too strong in flavor, producing too dark a coloring to the food’s exterior, and often producing a sooty appearance to both the food and equipment, that once they tried our wood, they had the exact opposite result.  Why?  The easiest answer is we simply have better-growing conditions in the Northeast than other areas that grow Hickory trees.  Plus, we have access to the better species of this hardwood family.

More Choices Don’t Always Mean Better Outcome

With over 20 species of Hickory in North America, they are not all equal when it comes to cooking with them.  Many of these 20 species are known to produce bitter undertones when foods are exposed to their smoke vapor.  That means poor results for the cook or Pitmaster who believes in hickory for their food production.

I like to compare hardwoods for cooking to extra virgin olive oil.  There are hundreds if not thousands of brands of olive oil available.  Yet, many producers marketing an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are using low-grade oils in the production rather than meet the requirements for EVOO labeling.  Wood is similar.  There is no obligation to label where the wood comes from, how old it is, how it was processed, what species it is from, and if it is from the raw material of the timbered tree or a by-product or waste product of another use.  Just like olive oil producers using pomace or the olive residue left over from the traditional production of olive oil, hardwood can be a leftover as well and re-purposed into something it wasn’t initially intended for.

Blaze Your Own Trail

My hope is that I’ve stimulated some thinking into what makes for a great smoking wood, grilling wood, or cooking wood in general.  Instead of duplicating a celebrity figure or following a current fad, blaze your own trail into what pleases you and the people you are serving your amazing grilled and smoked foods from the wood fire to.  With so many factors affecting a food’s taste, appearance, and aroma, it’s time to simply experiment, keep a log, and find what pleases you.  It may turn out to be one hardwood that you feel is the wood or it could simply be the food that guides you.  Hope you enjoyed our blog IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH?

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that your wood cooking and food smoking experiences can offer a good variety of great tastes and awesome flavors by using the full range of acceptable hardwood species.  Without a doubt, hickory commands a lot of media market attention and is a very popular choice but don’t look past other hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, alder, beech and ash to deliver great results!

We hope this latest posting was informative.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we love hearing from you, especially when it comes to what you want to learn about next.  As always, subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss out on the latest information.

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading:

-WHAT A NUTTY CHOICE!

-THE TOP 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN COOKING & GRILLING WITH WOOD

-WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX?

-TO BARK OR NOT

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

Dr. Smoke- "While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Dr. Smoke- “While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Plant-based burger taste better when cooked with wood chips or wood chunks for added flavor!
Plant-based burger taste better when cooked with wood chips or wood chunks for added flavor!
Listen to the audio of this blog

There is no question that this has become the new rage.  Plant-based burgers have been introduced not only to the grocery meat case in over 8000 locations but to thousands of restaurant locations world-wide.

What is a plant-based burger?  It is a genetically modified version of heme, the iron containing molecule in soy plants, which is what accounts for a “meat” flavor.  It also incorporates coconut oil and potato starch to give a more burger-like texture, something that has been a complaint with vegetarian or vegan patties.  Brands like Impossible Burger® use a braiding of minerals, fats, and proteins to keep the burger from falling apart. 

To compare an animal protein burger with a plant-based burger from a nutritional view, you’ll find that the plant-based burger may not always be the better choice.  It really depends on the brand but know you should look at the saturated fat level and calories as the plant-based burger is not always lower than the traditional beef patty or even a poultry patty.  Sodium levels should also be monitored.

Make It More Like A Burger Experience

You may know that many people accept that there are two camps for cooking burgers: grill grates whether on a gas grill or charcoal, and a griddle whether on a stove top or on a griddle insert of a grill.

I would argue, however, that there is another camp.  Those of us who believe in live fire with wood for cooking common items like burgers and dogs.  This is how you take an average burger and maximize the experience of eating while creating a newness to a very popular American item. 

The influence of plant material combustion and release of the flavonoid composition of this material is what can take your average burger to the next level.  I don’t know how many times I’ve had dinner guests inquire how I made something like a burger taste so high quality.  It’s only then that I reveal my use of hardwood, whether chunks in a smoker box, chunks directly on hot charcoal, or a sprinkle of wood chips on a griddle or plancha.  Wood takes even the most basic food item and brings out umami. 

Grill Set Up

For the easiest cooking of your plant-based burger, start by setting up an outdoor grill with a two-zone cooking set up.  That means one half of the grill has no burners lit for the gas grill, or no hot coals on one half of the charcoal unit. 

Start the burger cooking by placing the plant-based burgers on the indirect side (no direct heat) and adding wood to the direct side.  This is where a smoker box comes in handy on the gas grill, which I fill with small wood chunks.  Close the lid and cook for about 7 minutes, unless the burger is particularly thick which would call for 10 minutes cooking.  Open the lid and turn the burgers over still using the indirect side for cooking and allow to cook for another 7 minutes (or 10 for thicker cuts). 

If you’re going to medium finish which is 145°F, then at about 125°F internal temperature, move the burgers to the direct heat side of the grill and cook leaving the lid up.  This will sear the outside.  Be sure to keep flipping the burgers every minute to ensure a perfect sear and not an overdone burger. 

To me, this makes a plant-based burger even more of an authentic burger flavor with the simple addition of hardwood on the grill of your choice.

Have you tried and loved a specific brand of plant-based burger?   Leave us a comment to state your preference and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, & Piccolo®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

More related reading on Applewood and other orchard woods see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Plant-based burger and other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More topics to read about:

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

APPLEWOOD – WHY WE DON’T USE IT! – HERE’S WHY

Dr. Smoke- Plant-based meats need wood chunks or chips to enhance their flavor profiles
Dr. Smoke- Plant-based burger need wood chunks or chips to enhance their flavor profiles