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Question on wood, how much to use?

NoDak1959NoDak1959 Posts: 45
edited September 2012 in EggHead Forum

Hi everyone. Well after nearly 6 months my new XL egg was finally set into my homemade table last night. I am going to try either spare ribs or a boston butt today. My question that I have is how much wood does one need to use for a good smoke? Like for ribs is 1 or 2 fist sized chunks enough? And for a longer cook like a butt do you need a lot more?

Thanks for any advice.....can't wait to get started. :)

Comments

  • For a butt I mix chips into the lump and put 1 large chunk of a fruit wood in the middle. There is not right or wrong way and a lot of good advice on here. The meat will only absorb the smoke for a limited time.
  • I only use chunks now.  I've usually use 4 chunks on ribs and 6 on briskets and butts. Why?  I just kept increasing the chunks on each cook and like these results.
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    Welcome to the Swamp.....GO GATORS!!!!
  • jfarleyjfarley Posts: 145
    Being a bit of a newbie myself I've looked at a lot of advice from this forum on this subject. I've been using a couple chunks of hickory and a couple of cherry with most of my pork cooks. They don't need to be soaked just placed in with the lump. Think I'll take Dave's advice and increase to 6 chunks for my next butt.
    LBGE - July 2012
    Valencia, CA
  • jfarley said:
    Being a bit of a newbie myself I've looked at a lot of advice from this forum on this subject. I've been using a couple chunks of hickory and a couple of cherry with most of my pork cooks. They don't need to be soaked just placed in with the lump. Think I'll take Dave's advice and increase to 6 chunks for my next butt.
    It really is about personal taste.  Can you over smoke?  Oh Yeah.  It is all about testing, tasting, and finding out what you like and don't like.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome to the Swamp.....GO GATORS!!!!
  • I honestly just eyeball it. The butts that I have on now will be the first ones I've ever done without soaking the chips first. I realized I forgot to soak them when it was time to light the fire. I figured, what the hell, we'll give it a rip.

    jfarley How do you like using the Cherry? I've been using apple chips, but have lots of scrap cherry laying in the woodshop. I plan on putting the cherry in for my next smoking adventure. If you've used apple, how does the cherry compare?
    Mark Annville, PA
  • For a butt I mix chips into the lump and put 1 large chunk of a fruit wood in the middle. There is not right or wrong way and a lot of good advice on here. The meat will only absorb the smoke for a limited time.
    I'll have to respectfully disagree w/ a couple things here.  

    First, the meat doesn't "absorb" smoke - it gets deposited to the outside.  As an "Egg-speriment" cook something w/ smoke, then carve the bark / outside off.  Eat a piece of the meat from only the "inside" - it'll taste pretty much like "normal" (ie, non-smoked) meat, and, aside from some residual effects of the smoke lingering on your knife or from handling it, you probably won't be able to tell whether that meat was cooked in the oven or the Egg.  

    Secondly, the meat will "accept" smoke as long as the meat is in the smoke's path.  Even just cooking w/ the lump charcoal deposits a mild smoke flavor (that's all I use when doing pizzas).  Using chips or chunks just gives you MORE smoke, and a different flavor (ie, cherry, apple, mesquite, etc). 

    It *is* possible to "over" smoke something, taste-wise (that is, unless you just absolutely LOOOOOVE a strong smoky taste).  But for most ppl, the human taste buds dislike something that tastes soooooo much like smoke that you can't even taste anything else (the old "too much of a good thing").  I actually did that w/ a prime rib roast before - I put so many chunks in there, that by the time the thing was cooked to temp, it tasted like an ashtray.  Lesson learned for me :-&

    The key is finding the balance between the smokey taste you enjoy, and not "over" smoking it.  Because each person's taste is subjective, that's something that you'll have to figure out for yourself.  Also, you might like a strong smoke flavor, but your significant other may not, so you'll have to strike a compromise or adjust how you cook the food (ie, cook her food first w/ minimal smoke, then put yours on after w/ heavier smoke).  

    As far as figuring out "how much" wood to use, a good rule of thumb to start w/ is: 2-3 chunks for a mild smoke flavor, 4-5 for a heavier flavor, and even more for "maximum" smoke flavor.  And obviously, where they are positioned in the Egg affects the amount of smoke, as well as the longer you leave the meat in the Egg, the more the outside is being exposed to that smoke.  

    So time, number (ie, amount) of chips / chunks, and obviously whether or not they are positioned in the lump such that they actually get burned by the fire all play a role in your smoking "Egg-sperience"

    HTH,
    HH
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • The more years I do this, the less smoke I've been using.  Guess my taste has changed.  I just like a subtle smoke taste so usually add just 2 small chunks at the most.  I tend to like the fruit wood now too as they seem more mild and sweet to me.
    Packerland, Wisconsin

  • I love a smoky brisket or butt. Layered chunks give me consistent smoke through a low and slow. But the difference IMHO between too much smoke and what I do is I have smoke trickling through the burn. Too much at once gives the meat that bitter creosote taste we all hate.

    I've definitely had smoke take to the meat throughout the cook. It is my experience that smoke can, indeed, penetrate the meat to a degree.

    Mesquite for brisket. Hickory or apple for butt.

    I've been experimenting with cherry pecan and peach. Love experimenting. :)
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!


  • I should add I also advocate a spicy water tub in your egg for low and slows. I chuck a heaping tablespoon of that pre minced garlic from Costco in with some ground pepper and one cheap beer. Adds to the flavor, aroma, and I think the higher humidity helps the smoke flavor infuse.
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!


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