WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN, THE FLAVOR IS UP.
Grillmasters know that grilling = flavor. But what if you stepped up your grill game even more? Try using wood chips the next time you fire up the grill and your guests will be begging for your secret. Grilling with wood chips is easy and it instantly adds another dimension to your already amazing food. Here's a quick take on three commonly used woods:
Oak is a great place to start – and it's a wood you'll find yourself going back to again and again. It delivers nice flavor without taking over. It's also super-versatile. Any cut of beef works well, but you can easily use pork, chicken and even fish.
Hickory is a bit stronger than oak. People often describe it as having bacon notes, which makes it a perfect pairing with ribs and other cuts of pork. Beef goes well too, but consider cooking larger cuts with stronger flavor. Want to get some subtle hickory flavor in without overwhelming the dish? Try mixing a little bit of hickory chips with some oak chips. You can play with your ratios to dial in on the optimal flavor.
This is strong. Really strong. Tread carefully when using mesquite. But if you channel your inner-Texan (Texas knows mesquite better than anyone) the results can be rewarding. Use it for cuts of beef that won't take long to cook – and most importantly, use it sparingly so as not to overpower things. As with hickory, you can mix mesquite with other more subtle woods to achieve a pleasant and not overly aggressive flavor.
Whichever flavored wood chips you choose, be sure to soak them in water for half an hour before using. Then drain and place them in a smoker box (if using a gas grill) or right on the coals of a charcoal grill. Once you become comfortable grilling with wood chips, get creative: try soaking your chips in red wine. May we suggest Gascón Malbec for added complexity and another level of flavor?