BBQ FAQ Section 7.9

 

7.9 Wood vs. charcoal

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[Why do barbecuers use different kinds of fuel?]

Editor--A summary of several posts--

The traditionalist will barbecue only with hardwood. Many barbecuers on this List use a combination of lump charcoal and wood. Some use lump charcoal to get the hardwood fire going, some use the lump charcoal for the fuel and add wood chips or chunks for the flavor. In some areas of the US, it's hard to find reasonably-priced lump charcoal. In other parts, hardwood is expensive. It all boils down to a matter of what works best for you and where you live. If hardwood is plentiful and cheap, use that. If lump charcoal is more economical than oak or hickory, use it. Lump charcoal has the advantage of burning with a more uniform heat than logs of wood. There is less variation from piece to piece so the temperature control of the smoker is easier. But with experience, you can learn to control the temperature of your smoker with whatever fuel you use.

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[I used some lump charcoal from mesquite and then some lump made from hickory. I could taste no difference between the two. Neither of them gave any of the good 'smoky' flavor I like. What gives?]

Harry Jiles--

Lump charcoal adds very little flavor to the meat being cooked, no matter what wood it is made from. Virtually all the aromatics (the chemicals in the wood that give the flavor) are burned off during the charcoal production process. If you use lump charcoal for a fuel source for smoking, you will have to add flavor wood chips or chunks (hickory, grapevines, etc.) for more smoke flavor.

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BBQ FAQ Ver 1.0, 2.0 1997, 1998 William W. Wight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999
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