Grilling steak and ribs with friends and families by the pool has always been a dream life for me.
I love grilled and barbecued food, but smoked meat must be one of my favorite method of cooking meat outside.
If you are not sure about what is the best part of smoking food and how it is done, you can see what’s the difference between smoking, barbecuing, and grilling first.
Although there are tons of people may know smoking meat needs wood or charcoal as fuel, most of them still don’t realize wood is essential when smoking meat.
Different wood would be affecting the flavor of the meat directly.
What’s the difference between charcoal smoking and wood smoking.
What wood is best for smoking meat?
Don’t worry. We will get to the answers to these questions step by step.
1. What is good about smoking meat with wood
We all know that smokers nowadays use wood, charcoal, or gas as fuel.
Let’s see how they can affect your food when you are choosing different fuel: Charcoal vs. Wood vs. Gas
Charcoal provides you a stable and a long-time temperature, and the steam and the sizzling it releases add a unique flavor to your food.
A slight sear created by charcoal also makes the meat more favorable and have a nice crispy texture on the surface.
The only thing is that it’s a headache when you clean the messy charcoal dirt.
Smoking meat with wood is the most authentic and classic way for foodies. Buring Wood creates a deniable smell, and it passes through every slide of the flesh.
The dripping oil of the meat also makes the wood burn well, smell better and sweet.
My mouth is already watering when I just think about it. I don’t know what else I can say except the word savory.
Compared to charcoal and wood, gas smoker is the most eco-friendly one since it uses butane or propane as its power source.
You can adjust the temperature precisely by controlling the gas and heat. If you are trying to make a steak that is medium rare and you can not control the heat well by your own.
A gas smoker will make you a good cooking master without any worries. If you are not interested in the raw and natural flavor, the gas smoker is a good choice.
2. What Wood Should You Use to Smoke Meat?
When it comes to smoking meat, we usually think hardwood is more like a smart choice.
Because they are sturdy and they will burn a long time. Some softwood might have resin, which will cause an unpleasant odor when you set softwood on fire.
If you are choosing wood for smoking brisket, beef, or some large cuts of meat, you should try some powerful and strong woods:
Oak is friendly to newbies. You won’t get an offensive smell on your steak after oak burns.
Meanwhile, it has a kind of strong smoky flavor, which makes your brisket more delicious and delicate.
Hickory is always a right choice, either for burning fuel or making wooden products.
Hickory is versatile and has a strong sweet smell, and it is perfect if you want to put more flavor to the large chunks of pork or beef.
But remember one thing: don’t overuse it because the hearty smell might cover the original flavor of the meat.
Pecan is like a medium-point between oak and hickory.
For people who like the rich sweet and nutty flavor but afraid of the bitterness of hickory, pecan would be the right wood.
But don’t make it too much, it’s still considered pungent. Using in excess can also cause a bitter taste.
For chicken or pork, usually people would like to add some mild flavor.
Fruitwoods are commonly used in smoking turkey and ham. We usually don’t want the flavor to be too strong so that will cover all the authentic taste.
Speaking of mild and sweet flavor, apple must be the first wood that I would think of.
It never takes over the real and natural flavor of the meat.
So it’s a versatile and all-purpose wood for smoking food if you are looking for a subtle sweet flavor.
Cherry has a fruity and lightly sweet flavor profile.
To balance out the flavor, some people like to mix it with some woods with rich flavor like hickory or pecan.
And having 2 kinds of wood together sometimes creates a unique amazing flavor.
Compared to Apple and Cherry, maple is the mildest wood and perfect for smoking fresh pork.
The characteristics allow maple to penetrate the meat with its subtle flavor slowly & smoothly.
For fish like salmon, the most famous and popular wood is alder.
Alder has a light and sweet flavor and makes your salmon taste fresh but also has a hint of smokiness.