Grilling is a past time that most people enjoy year around. There is something about that hamburger or hot dog that comes straight from the grill that always makes it taste so good. However as our grilling evolves, we are looking for ways to expand how we cook all kinds of meat and seafood. Once of the best ways to add flavor to all types of meats is to use grilling planks or wood chips. However, it can be a little confusing to match the flavor of the wood with the type of meat or seafood that you wish to cook. For example, a piece of beef would not benefit from being cooked on an alder wood because the flavor would not be strong enough to add anything to the beef. It would be more suitable for a salmon or poultry. Once you are familiar with the different flavors of woods and the types of meat they are best suited for, you will be able to impress your family and friends with wonderful dishes straight from the grill.
Hickory and Pecan
Hickory is the wood most widely used in grilling. It has a strong flavor that will quickly remind you of bacon. It goes well with all meats because it has such a strong flavor but pair it with pork or a slab of ribs for an amazing taste. Pecan is another versatile wood that compliments most meats. It is a little bit lighter in flavor compared to the hickory wood. It also has some sweet notes.
Walnut is one of the heaviest flavors when it comes to all the woods. It is great with game meats and larger pieces of red meat. However, the walnut can leave a bitter taste if used alone. It is best if paired with a fruit wood such as apple to help balance the flavors.
Apple is a great choice if you are looking to add some sweet and fruity flavor to your meat. It is dense in flavor so it will stand up to red and game meats, but will also be a nice complement to ham and lighter meats.
If chicken or pork is on the menu, than maple is the wood of choice. It is mild and sweet in nature.
Mesquite is a great pairing for chicken. However, its earthly flavor makes it a great choice for a mild piece of beef. This also makes for a great wood to use for grilling vegetables.
Peach and pear
Both of these woods have a sweet woodsy flavor to them. They pair well with poultry and smaller pieces of red meat. These woods also pair well with salmon and other seafood.
Once you get a taste for the woods, you will have a better idea on what you would like to pair with them. Most of these woods are also good for grilling vegetables and warming up cheeses. The fruit woods are also good for grilling hard fruits for a twist on dessert.