COOKING TIP: Grill smoking

We are now in the season where we have taken out our charcoal grill or "fired Up" our gas grill to  cook meat and poultry in our back yards. Wood smoking, using our grills, brings an added dimension to the flavor of the foods we are grilling. Some tips follow:


Wood smoke can add an additional depth of flavor to grilled foods. Start the coals, if using charcoal, and add wood - 1/4 cup of presoaked (20 min or longer) - when coals are glowing. When using a gas grill place wood in a heat proof container on one of the burners on high setting. In both cases, close grill cover and allow smoke to interact with whatever you are grilling. With charcoal grill. adjust the vents to allow enough air in so that the wood continues to smolder but not burn. Smoke for 15-20 minutes, at first, and adjust the smoking time further according to your taste requirements. Short periods of smoking started when food is almost done cooking, with either charcoal or gas, imparts a little smoke favor to the food. Smoking for long periods (1 to several hours) with wood added at the start of cooking, imparts a deep smoke flavor to the food. In this case, wood may have to be re-added to the grill several times during the cooking process


WOOD                SMOKE FLAVOR                      USE *                      

 Alder                    sweet, musky          salmon, fish, pork, poultry

Apple                     slightly sweet,

                              dense smoky              beef, poultry, ham

Fruitwood             fruity, sweet                      all meats

Hickory                  sweet to strong          all meats, especially ribs


                                                                                                                                                  Mesquite            strong, hearty flavor      beef, ribs, pork, poultry;

                                                                       favorite for Texas BBQ 

Oak                         medium smoky                 any BBQ meat   


* Don't forget that vegetables, onions, peppers, tomatoes etc. may be smoked, as well.