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What Kind of Wood to Use When Smoking Meat

Posted on: September 2nd, 2020 by Lemonade Stand

When it comes to the wood you use when smoking meat, there are many varying opinions. For regular backyard barbecuing, it can be enjoyable to debate about, and to experiment with different wood varieties. However, it’s important to try and get things right when it comes to commercial wood burning grills

There are so many different foods that can be grilled, and each will adopt the flavor of wood smoke you use. Before choosing what wood to use, you must first understand the depth of flavor they offer. 

While certain woods are better suited to particular foods, some people overthink it. Wood that’s suitable for smoking meat will work for almost all grilled foods. However, some woods simply aren’t suited to smoking and should be avoided entirely. 

 

Wood Varieties Used to Smoke Meat

When deciding on what wood to use, it’s important to know that grilling wood varieties are categorized into three segments: mild, medium, and strong (mesquite). These are all best suited to certain meats.

Mild

Mild grilling woods are exactly as advertised: mild. Their subtle hints and tones provide enough aroma to flavor your meat without overpowering the native flavor of the food itself.

Some of the most common mild grilling woods are from fruit trees, including cherry, apple, peach, and pear.

Cherry wood, while adding a fruity flavor, is very mild, making it ideal for any meat. 

Apple wood has a more distinct tang, but due to its subtleness, is versatile and suited to many meats. Pork, poultry, beef, lamb, and small game birds smoke well with apple chips. 

Pear and peach woods are similar when it comes to grilling. They give off a light, yet sweet and fruity flavor that works very well with poultry, pork, and small game birds.

Medium

These grilling woods are significantly stronger than mild varieties and can give off particularly distinct flavors. These wood chips are very popular for commercial use. 

Some of the most sought after medium wood chips are hickory, maple, pecan, and oak. Their unique flavors are synonymous with barbecued meats, adding depth, and enriching the food they are grilling. 

Hickory wood generates quite a sweet and hearty taste. Its rich flavor profile and pungent aroma make hickory perfect for many different meats. It’s frequently used to smoke bacon, other cuts of pork, and ribs. 

Maple grilling wood is milder than hickory but also adds a sweet taste to the meat. Certain varieties of maple chips add more sweetness than others. Due to its subtleness, maple is often used to grill vegetables and cheeses. It’s best suited for grilling poultry and pork.

Pecan is milder than hickory and is great for adding flavor to poultry. 

Oak wood chips provide a medium smoky tang and can work wonders with all meats. While it functions perfectly well as an individual grilling wood, oak is often blended with other woods to develop even richer flavors.

Mesquite

Mesquite is the strongest smoking wood on the market. Texas-style barbecue famously uses mesquite to create its distinct taste. It requires knowledge and expertise to use as it has an intense and strong flavor. Mesquite is strong enough you want to have a handle on how long to expose your meat else you can over-smoke it.

Things to Look Out For

As with all crafts, there are some red flags to note when it comes to smoking meat; 

Don’t over smoke your meat

The most common mistake people make when smoking meat is over smoking. While time on the grill is crucial for a tender piece of meat, too much smoke will take from the flavor. It’s important to taste the meat as well as the wood flavoring. 

Get the process right and focus on timing. You don’t want to smoke the meat for over half of the cooking time.

Be careful using local wood

As mentioned, just because certain smoking woods are popular, it doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones suitable. Local wood can also be used in meat smoking, but source your wood wisely.

The Griller is More Important Than the Wood

The simple truth of the matter is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the wood you use to smoke. With so many options to choose from, optimal choice comes down to suitability. Depending on what flavor profile or taste that you’re after, a different wood might be recommended. 

It takes time, knowledge, and experience to learn about the wood and the corresponding flavors. It’s not necessarily about the wood, it’s how you use it that gets the best results. 

Differences Between a Charbroiler and a Grill

Posted on: September 2nd, 2020 by Lemonade Stand

Although they are used to cook similar types of foods, charbroilers and grills are quite different. While they can be substituted for each other in certain circumstances, each has its own advantages and strengths. Through concentrated and directly applied heat, they are geared to caramelize, char, and flavor food in a unique way. 

With an open flame and a spaced grill, charbroilers and grills give that smokey flavor, a charred look that is not easily replicated, and is something that customers look for in a restaurant. Some examples include chicken, fish, steak, pork, ribs, burgers, wings, grilled vegetables, and even sandwiches.

When deciding on whether to buy a charbroiler or a grill for your restaurant, you must know what the main differences are before finalizing your decision.

Charbroilers

In general, charbroilers are more commonly found on commercial premises. They are indoor appliances. Restaurants and food establishments usually have a commercial chargrill station where they cook food. Charbroilers are larger than grills and can cook more substantial quantities of food at one time. 

They operate by using a gas flame to heat a heating element that radiates to a grill grate. Their design provides quick and consistent heat, allowing the temperature to be more easily controlled than grills. Temperatures can be regulated using responsive valves and sensors. 

Charbroilers are energy-intensive, often using between 15,000 and 30,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) of gas per burner, per hour, which means they need sufficient indoor ventilation.

Grills

Traditional grills use charcoal as the heat source, which typically requires that they be used outside for proper ventilation. Commercial grills are often used indoors with proper ventilation, and are easier to control temperature-wise than their traditional counterpart.

In simple terms, a grill has three fundamental parts: the cooking surface, the charcoal container, and the grill support. The cooking surface usually consists of a grate. This grate is heated directly from the charcoal container below. The hot charcoal heats the grate and cooks the food through a naked flame. 

It takes skill and exposure to grilling to understand the nuances of grilling and temperature regulation. 

Core Differences Between Charbroilers and Grills

From the descriptions above, you can see that there are some subtle differences between charbroilers and grills. However, there are some more important aspects to consider when deciding between the two. 

Shape and design

The main difference in shape is that charbroilers are open above the cooking surface and are never covered. Commercial grills have lids with two core functions; first to regulate temperature, and secondly, to trap smoke while cooking, and imbue a smoky flavor to the food. 

Heating and cooking time

As charbroilers are generally gas powered, they heat up extremely quickly. Temperatures can be controlled easily and there is a consistent and evenly distributed level of heat. This means that preparation and cooking time is usually quicker when using a charbroiler.

Location and placement

Charbroilers operate using gas so they are usually located indoors. Although they don’t produce as much smoke as traditional grills, they require powerful ventilation. 

What to Choose for Your Restaurant?

If you’re in the position to get both, having a charbroiler and a grill can be highly advantageous in your restaurant. It gives you the opportunity to serve a larger variety of food options and flavors. 

However, if you’re choosing between the two, the most important factor is suitability. Depending on the style of the restaurant and the type of food you produce, one might be much more suited than the other. 

Study the differences, align the characteristics with your restaurant goals, and choose what’s best for your services.