These Woods Are Special

As you can see from my numerous posts this weekend, Chris is back.  And the man is truly enjoying his holiday weekend attending barbecues, trying new tailgating tools, and loving every second of not being in the office!

So last night at my friend’s house I had the chance to chat up the chef of a local BBQ joint.  The focus of the conversation was grilling with specialty woods.  Sadly, I am a novice when it comes to grilling with the woods, so I thought if I am getting educated, why not share the lessons with other tailgaters.

What did this student learn?

Lesson 1: The best of the best specialty woods come from either fruit, nut, or hardwood trees.  These woods include, and are not limited to,  cherry, pecan, walnut, apple, hickory, and oak.

Lesson 2: The stronger flavored woods come from nut trees.  The woods that are milder in flavor come from the fruit trees.  If you aren’t sure what flavor is right for you and you want to do some experimenting go with a variety pack of wood pellets.

Lesson 3: To get the most flavor in your meats you have to pair the food type with the correct specialty wood.  The basic rule of thumb (or so I am told) is to pair oak with beef  and the fruit woods with chicken.  When grilling chicken it is more than  OK (and I am told better) to mix the fruit woods, like pecan and apple.

Lesson 4: This is probably the most important lesson for us beginners, before adding the chips to the grill the woods chips need to soak in water for at least a 1/2 hour.  So for us tailgaters the soaking could be done prior to getting to the tailgate or as soon as you arrive.  I would say before getting to the tailgate in the event you pound a few cold ones upon arrival in the lot and then forget!

Lesson 5: For you guys with the gas grill you should wrap the wood chips in aluminium foil and with a fork, puncture a few holes in the foil.  If you are a charcoal man, the wood chips can be placed directly on top of the coals.

Lesson 6: This lesson should probably be lesson 1 because if you don’t buy the wood chips, lessons 1-5 are useless to you.  You don’t need to go all Martha Stewart in your search.  Instead just head down to your local Lowes or Home Depot.  If you are a rookie with the chips, you should start with a small quantity as you perfect your experimentation and flavoring.  If the wood is for you, you can then hit up the internet to upgrade to the more expensive specialty wood chips.

Hopefully you too learned something.  If not, and you have some additional tips for me and the readers, please share.  My first experiment will be next Friday evening down in the Philadelphia parking lot.  And based on the recent play of my Phillies, the grilling will probably be the best part of the evening.

If you too are off today, enjoy every second of freedom and every bite of the barbecue goodness!