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What kind of wood is good for cooking meat?

I have oak and maple and some cherry wood are any of these good for cooking meat. Im having a bonfire type BBQ and I want to know what is the best wood to cook with. I want something that will give the food a good taste if not what type of wood should I use.

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9 Responses to “What kind of wood is good for cooking meat?”

  1. ☆ ι ♥ ιƝκ ☆ said :

    maple, cherry or hickory are best

  2. mamad said :

    I have never cooked with oak or maple, but cherry wood is very good for cooking. Normally I use mesquite, hickory, apple, or cherry.

  3. Been There~Done That! said :

    Applewood is great. Harder to find.

  4. Dan said :

    mesquite, hickory, apple woods are good for sure. I bet cherry, or maple wood would be good too…I don’t think oak would be very good though. remember to soak the wood chips or whatever for 24hrs or so.

  5. cookingpancake said :

    I have used oak, mesquite, apple wood, pecan, and hickory. All were delicious, especially the pecan.

  6. a cabingirl said :

    I use all of the above in my cabin fireplace- the best steaks ever. Hickory would be a nice addition, or mesquite, if you can get that. I use a great grill from the sportsmans guide,, luckily it fits perfectly into my fireplace.

    A favorite marinade is to add 1/4 cup southern comfort to 1 bottle BBQ sauce, and 1/2 can coke- sounds odd, but is perfect.

  7. Dave C said :

    Since you’re doing a bonfire type bbq, you’re (I’m assuming) burning the wood down to coals and grilling your food over the hot coals (you’re not cooking your food over flames – that’s not good).

    I suggest that you use oak… throw in some cherry wood to smoke while you’re cooking and you’ll be good.

  8. wineduchess said :

    Never used Oak or maple but can tell you that cherry will impart a sweet taste to the finished meat.

  9. Robert said :

    When choosing wood to cook with, I usually consider the entire recipe and use that as a starting point. If you are cooking a recipe with big bold flavors or a recipe that is primarily beef-based, then the aggressive woods, such as oak, hickory, and mesquite are best, as their flavors can stand up to bold flavors because the wood flavors are so strong themselves. Hickory and oak are used most often, as mesquite can often be overwhelming, especially if you are not used to it. Mesquite is best used for dishes where the portions are small to moderate in size, lest the mesquite flavor overwhelm the rest of the meal. Hickory and mesquite tend to go well with beef and some poultry recipes.

    With lighter flavored things like chicken and pork, you can use the aggressive woods on limited basis. However, if smoked or cooked aggressively, hickory, mesquite, and oak can quickly overpower the chicken or pork, leading to a strong wood smoke flavor and not much else. A better idea with these softer meat flavors would be to use flavors such as maple, pecan, walnut (if you can get it) or a fruitwood such as apple. The lighter flavors provided by these types of woods will enhance the correspondingly light flavors of chicken and pork.

    If you somehow find yourself cooking veal, a really light wood, such as grapevine trimmings or a light fruitwood can work, although in many cases any smoke at all can overwhelm the mild (also described as bland) taste of veal.

    In some rare cases, you can match wood flavor with ingredients used in the recipe. An example would be maple wood used to smoke chicken or turkey that has been brined in a solution containing maple syrup or that features some sort of sweet sauce as an accompaniment.

    With aggressively flavored meats like lamb or game, it is better to leave these to themselves without any smoke flavoring at all, lest you create a poor mix of strong flavors. I have heard of smoke flavors being used with meats, but these recipes are few and far between.

    When you get more practice, you can try mixing different woods to get a combined effect. Many smokehouses, especially in the South have their own blends of two or three specific woods that they use to create a unique smoky flavor.

    Whatever wood you choose, make certain that you always use a hardwood. Softwoods, like pine are not suitable for smoking.

    When cooking with wood, different woods tend to burn at different temperatures and rates, with mesquite being among the woods that burn at the hottest temperature. Make certain that you keep a close eye on your food during cooking.

    It’s a good idea to soak any wood used for cooking in water to cover for at least an hour before cooking and then drain it and add it to the fire. Soaking wood ensures that the wood smolders rather than burns outright, causing it to release more smoke. If you really want a light smoke flavor, it is possible to use wood dry without any soaking. Doing so creates less of a smoke flavor with any wood that you use.


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