Thursday, April 20, 2006

Proper Use of Charcoal-Wood

Q: Where do I get seasoned wood for my smoker. I've been using charcoal but not having much luck keeping my fire going....too much smoke build-up on the food...I did ribs and they turned out great...but the 2 times I tried drunkened chicken the fire has died both

A: I hope I am understanding your question properly.. if so it is a good one. As far as where to find seasoned wood.. you kind of have to look for it a little but it can be found.

Here are some ideas:

  • Run an ad in the paper offering free cutting and hauling of fruit/nut trees, etc.
  • Drive around town.. you see an old tree that needs to be cut down or has fallen down after a storm, stop and offer to take care of it for free.
  • Post a note on those bulletin boards in Wal-mart with your phone number attached
  • If all else fails, you can usually buy the stuff from fireplace and grill stores or they may be able to tell you who sells it in the community.
If you are just using a small smoker like a Bullet type then you might be better off just buying pre-bagged wood chips or chunks at Wal-mart or the local hardware store.

Some of the best woods, in my opinion, are Mesquite, Hickory, Pecan, Oak, Apple and Plum and tend to add the best flavor to meat.

The most readily available woods are hickory and mesquite.

Now tending the fire and keeping it going is a different ballgame.. first off you should be using lump charcoal for best results since it burns cleaner and hotter and has no additives like briquettes.

Get a good fire going and you have to stay after it.. watch the temperature and when it starts to drop you will need to add more hot coals. This is where a charcoal chimney comes in handy.. it allows you to prepare more hot coals in just a few minutes.

Depending on the size of your smoker you will need to use wood chunks or chips.. for a smaller smoker you can wrap chips in a piece of foil and poke some holes in the top and lay it right on top of the coals for some good smoke.

Alternatively you can purchase a smoke box which is large enough to hold 4-6 chunks of wood and will produce adequate smoke for a small smoker.

Rule number one.. and I say this often.. make sure you have proper airflow in the smoker. Open the intake or firebox door on the bullet smoker at least 1/3 to 1/2 and make sure you are getting plenty of draft either through the lid, vent or stack of some sort.

Too much smoke flavor usually means improper airflow.

Visit for hundreds of great tutorials and guides on smoking meat.

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