It's all about the wood.
Posted on Friday, January 13 2017 09:36:00 AM in News by Bron Kennedy
A prized piece of protein can taste radically different each time you cook, depending on the cooking method you choose. Braising, grilling and smoking all develop the protein in different ways, cultivating degrees of flavour, each different to the other. Since we’re talking all things wood and smoking, let’s focus on what the smoke does and how it turns a piece of meat into an irresistible life-time pursuit.
So. With the knowledge of how the smoke transfers flavour to your protein, let’s look at ways you can add your own spin on it and enhance it, using specific types of woods and techniques.
As a rule, different woods work better with different meats. Lighter proteins like chicken and pork work well with a lighter wood option, giving a more subtle result. Lamb and beef can both handle the moderate and heavier woods. But as we all know, rules are meant to be broken, so don’t be afraid to try things out for yourself. What about combining wood? You never know what custom flavours you might come up with. Sure…you might have some duds in there, but at least you’ll know for certain. And you never know what you might discover in the process!
One of our favourite ways to really get the flavour in there is to add flavour to the wood itself. Soaking your wood for a couple of hours in wine, beer or spirits not only slows the burn process, but also adds to the final flavour of the protein. Try it next time you’re smoking. Just remember to compensate for the slower burn with the soaked chunks or chips by keeping the fire stoked and at temperature.
We’ve done a lot of experimenting of our own, and we’ve done some poking around the internet to find the best advise for protein/timber combinations and this is what we’ve found:
Wood Type – Oak or Hickory
Rubs – As a general rule, beef is delicious with just liberally applied salt and pepper. If you want to get a bit fancier, try a mustard rub.
Sauces – Beef is always paired well with a really good BBQ sauce.
Best Cuts – Point End Brisket, Short or Chuck Ribs, Tri tip (sometimes called the bottom sirloin), Bolar Blade, Chuck Roll, Top Side, Knuckle.
Wood Type – Apple, Peach or Hickory
Rubs – Dry rubs are the bomb with pork. Try rubs with some sweetness. Use dark sugars with spices such as paprika, cayenne, juniper, garlic powder, thyme or oregano.
Sauces – Wet sauces and sweet barbecue mops and jam based bastes are your best bet here. Pork, if pulled, is often matched with a Carolina style BBQ sauce that is sweet, mustardy and vinegar based.
Best Cuts – Pork Collar Butt / Boston Butt, Pork Shoulder, St Louis Pork Ribs, Pork Ribs USA Style, Baby Back Ribs.
And to the folk at Smoked & Cured for their thoughts on the best use for woods: