Next time you fire up the grill, why not add the aromatic flavor of apple, cherry, mesquite or hickory wood chips to your cuts of chicken, duck, quail or pheasant. Smoking meat has been used for centuries as a method of preserving meat.
Place your wood chips in a smoking box or at the bottom of a charcoal or gas grill and cook as usual letting the aromatic smoke of the wood chips infuse the meat. The temperature inside the meat should be smoked at a temperature between 200° – 220°F to ensure it is free from salmonella and other bacteria as recommended by the USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service. For additional flavor, try soaking the wood chips in water, your favorite beverage or any liquid flavoring.
When shopping for wood chips, make sure there should be no bark. The wood may also be available in wood chunks and blocks, logs and dust. Some brands will infuse their product with flavoring. Cooking slowly allows the meat to soak up the smoky flavor
If you are using a gas grill for smoking, don’t let the fire get too hot and don’t allow the ash to sit at the bottom of the grill. Put the wood chips in a smoking box and the box at the bottom of the grill. Some grills have a designated area for a smoking box. Don’t pack the smoking box with wood chips. Leave room for the wood to interact with the heat of the fire. On a charcoal grill, bring the fire up to its standard cooking temperature and mix the wood chips in with the charcoal. 6 to 8 wood chips will work just fine if you are using charcoal briquettes. Soaking the chips first will provide much more smoke.
Never smoke or grill with cottonwood, willow, pine, or poplar wood. They have a high resin content and will ruin the food.
Wood, Smoke and Flavor
Apple adds a sweet, fruity flavor to lamb, poultry or fish
Cherry wood adds a mild, fruity flavor to the taste of beef, hamburgers, pork, poultry or fish. If produces a great flavor that many report works well with just about anything.
Maple provides a slightly sweet flavor that traditionally is used with ham although it works nicely with poultry and seafood.
Oak, whether red or white burns for a long time and adds a heavy flavor to game, beef and fish. Oak wood is one of the most smoky wood and can penetrate thick red meats.
Pecan is similar to Hickory and provides a sweet, smoky flavor to just about everything.
Hickory is probably the most common wood used for smoking meat. It imparts a sweet, strong flavor and is recommended to all those new to smoking meats. It is recommended for beef, burgers, pork, poultry, fish.
Mesquite is one of the hottest burning woods used for smoking meat and has a very strong, earthy flavor. It is recommended for beef, burgers, lamb, pork, poultry and fish.
Dogwood adds a medium smoke flavor, mixes well with fruity woods. Use it with beef, burgers, pork.