July 2020

The Little Grill that Can cook really well!

The Little Grill that Can cook really well- A tribute to the affordable grill!



Our Culinary Team was doing a demo at an event in Lake Placid, New York on barbecuing and wood-fired cooking. We had the usual equipment: a vertical cooker, Komado cooker(BGE), charcoal unit, etc. that the Culinary Crew was demonstrating unusual, fun things to wood-fire infuse! I had the LP/Gas grill and the $19.99 Wal-Mart® grill with a top lid! Yes, I had a cheap, afffordable grill at this upscale event!

You know what happens during these events – a little competition among the Team Members sets in! Could my Napoleon portable LP/Gas grill and the Wal-Mart® special out cook the other more expensive equipment! The secret ingredient to test the boundaries would be steaks! The Crew were pretty snotty about their equipment and chuckled among themselves about my chances!

First, I pre-soaked some Grande Sapore® chips (cherry was my choice) in red wine (cheap Lambrusco) for about an hour. Then, I set up the little affordable grill; I’m talking it is only 16 inches in diameter with short legs and a dome top! I took some hardwood charcoal and reduced each piece to fit the grill! (paper bag smash method). I did not overfill because I only needed to produce some flame. Then, I put the chip mixture over the charcoal, opened the vent on the bottom and on the top lid (Chimney effect), and placed the steaks on the grill!

I set up and preheated the Napoleon under low heat during the prep. Letting the steaks sit in the little affordable grill allowed for some perfect seasoning to them. Remember, I didn’t have enough heat/fuel to cook and smoke in the smaller unit! I left them in the charcoal unit for approximately 3-4 minutes, then I turned up the LP/Gas grill unit to high! I removed the steaks from the $19.99 grill special and finished them on the hot LP grill!

Yes, I won “Gold” in Lake Placid!! The wine infused taste was awesome! This just proves that you don’t need expensive equipment to cook great food- you just need good technique and knowledge! So take advantage of the portable affordable grill that tends to go on sale now and watch for the steak special. Then prepare for the ultimate in wood-fired cooking!




Small LP/Gas grill (like a Napoleon)

19.99 grill special at Wal-Mart®, BJ’s Wholesale, or other discount box store

SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® chips (sugar maple to blend sweetness with the wine)

Lambrusco wine (any brand will do)

Steaks, not too thick – about ½” (13mm)

Dr. Smoke- I love cooking grilling on my affordable grill! It's perfect to sear and yes even smoke if you have a lid!

Dr. Smoke- I love cooking grilling on my affordable grill! It’s perfect to sear and yes even smoke if you have a lid!


Wet or dry wood for smoking? Which is the best!

Wet or dry wood for smoking? Which is the best!

Soak or not to soak my wood prior to smoking? Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

This is one of the top questions heard when it comes to cooking with wood. Do you soak the wood chunks or chips before using on the grill or smoker?

I have a definite answer which is do not soak the wood before using in your equipment.

Let us examine why.

Wet or Dry Wood for Smoking?

Water Becomes Steam

Any time water is introduced to a preheated piece of equipment, whether it is an LP/gas grill, electric unit, or charcoal grill, it will affect the temperature of that equipment. For the LP/gas and electric units, this can be seen in the call for more gas or electric energy to keep the temperature at the preset level. For the charcoal unit, the water will reduce the heat of the coals and the fire will need to work harder to regain the energy to sustain the target temperature.

Wet Produces Off Flavor

There is an ideal moisture range for hardwood used for cooking, which includes grilling, smoking, direct coal and ember methods. You will hear the terms “seasoned” and “green”. “Green” wood refers to fresh cut wood which has not had an opportunity to dry out. The risks of using this type of wood is it will burn at variant rates, emit more sap, and has the potential to impart bitter and musty flavors. “Seasoned” woods refer to hardwoods that have dried out naturally. These will provide for more consistent temperature, provide cleaner flavors, and combust with less creosote build-up. Just be aware, you do not want firewood! If you Google seasoned wood, you will read that this is wood left to dry for 9-12 months or more. Do not leave your wood that long as it will not release any essence that produces the flavor.

Mold Potential

The wetter the wood the more potential there is for mold to develop. Mold needs 3 conditions: moist or damp locations to grow, a food source to survive, ideal temperatures usually from 32° to 120°F but love 70-90°F.

It is important that though you will use wood dry on any equipment (unless the equipment manufacturer specifically requests you soak the wood in water) that the wood not be completely dehydrated of all moisture. We recommend that you cook with wood that is approximately 20-25% moisture level. This is the main reason why at SmokinLicious®, we take the moisture reading on every order and provide that information to you. Here is a tip: if you see wood that is packaged in a plastic bag with no air holes, that is completely dry wood and will not provide any flavor or essence of the wood. It merely becomes a heat source