There are a wide variety of smoke woods although some are more suited to the task than others. The safest approach is to stick to those you can buy for the purpose, but if you are adventurous, you can also use wood from your garden. Be sure to avoid varieties that contain resin and painted / processed wood – as these give the food a bitter taste.
Next you need to select the wood variety. Different woods = different flavored smoke. For example, apple wood has a sweet fruity taste, while hickory, also known as American walnut, is a good all-rounder. The secret is to find the wood, which best complements the food – and which best suits your personal taste. Irrespective of the variety you choose be careful not to overdo it. When smoking food it is best to act with caution. You can always add more. Over smoked food can be overpowering.
Smoke wood flavor and intensity: a guide
Weber has a variety of smoke woods of varying flavors and strength. These are listed below based on the following numeric scale:
4: Extra strong and intense smoke flavor (use with care)
3: Strong smoke flavor
2: Medium smoke flavor
1: Mild smoke flavor
Once you have chosen the right smoke wood, it’s easy to get started. If you are using chips, it is often a good idea to use a smoker box. If you prefer chunks, simply place them among the charcoal / briquettes in your charcoal grill or on the cooking grate of your gas grill. If you are not sure how much smoke wood to use, a smoker box is useful because you can remove it once the food is smoked enough.
On a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker®, simply place the smoke wood – typically chunks – on top of the briquettes/charcoal in the lower chamber. Whatever grill you have, it is very simple to take your first steps in the world of smoked food:
- Light the grill and prepare it for the grilling method prescribed by the recipe.
- Place the desired quantity of smoke chips in the smoker box and place it over direct heat on the cooking grate. If you are using smoke chunks you can place them between the coals or on the cooking grate of your gas grill.
- Arrange the food on the cooking grate in accordance with the desired grilling method and close the lid again. Smoke the food for the specified time and add extra smoke wood if necessary. But remember – better too little than too much!