1. Choose the right wood for the right food. Milder-flavored woods like alder and maple are best for poultry and fish, while stronger-flavored woods like hickory and mesquite are best for red meats like beef, pork and venison. Oak is always an excellent choice for any kind of smoked food because it's not too strong and its flavor is very straightforward so it pairs well with seasonings and sauces. You can even use wood chips from oak whiskey barrels for smooth, mellow vanilla and caramel notes. Fruit woods like apple and cherry add a hint of bright fruit flavor that goes nicely with lamb and pork as well as chicken.
2. Chips vs. Chunks: As you can probably guess, wood chips are smaller than wood chunks, which means that chips will start smoking and burn up faster than chunks. As a result, chips are a better choice for foods with shorter cooking times, while chunks are better for thicker, larger cuts that need to cook longer.
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4. If you have a charcoal grill: When the coals are ready for grilling scatter a couple of handfuls of chips or chunks directly on the coals. When the wood starts smoking, place your food on the grill, cover with the lid and cook until you no longer see smoke coming from the grill vents. Check the food for doneness, and if desired, you can add more wood to the coals and keep grilling/smoking. Just remember: A little smoke can add a LOT of flavor, so don't overdo it.
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And don't forget to check out our barbecue sauces and dry rubs, ranging from all-American classics and regional favorites to exotic and gourmet sauces.