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Smoking/wood chips help

WJSWJS Posts: 54
edited 12:16AM in EggHead Forum
I'm looking for everybodys thoughts on the best techniques for preparing wood chips.[p]I've tried both dry and soaked woodchips in my Egg, as well as various sizes and types of chips. I seem to get very inconsistant results, regardless of which method I use.[p]Sometimes I get a lot of smoke flavor, other times almost none at all.[p]Am I doing something wrong?[p]I've seen some web sites that suggest to let the chips burn for awhile, then start your Q. They say that if the wood is actually burning, as opposed to smoking, it imparts a bitter flavor, regardless of the type/size of wood chip used.[p]Any thoughts or words of wisdom from experience on the BGE?[p]Thanks in advance for any info.


  • WardsterWardster Posts: 1,006
    Not an expert, but I soak them, always. Situation decides what I soak them in. Vinegar, whiskey, beer, wine, apple jucie....
    I use logic, wet wood won't burn.
    From what I've read here, your meat will only absorb smoke until a certain temperature. All smoke after that is to make the neighbors jealous....

    Apollo Beach, FL
  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,523
    howdy WJS,
    Have you tried using wood chunks instead?? They seem to do a better job, for me, of providing a steady light smoke for much longer. On low/slows I like to use a few chunks. 1 or 2 plunged right in the core fire, and the rest about 3 or 4 inches from the core that they catch as the fire spreads through the lump. [p]Chips are good for a short blast of smoke...but not much else, unless you have a way of feeding them in as you cook...IMO.[p]Give the chunks a shot if you haven't. A good general size for me is somewhere between an egg and a baseball.[p]Hope that helps.
    Cheers and beers.
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
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  • WJS,[p]I happen to do some wood working and have experimented with this a bit. My conclusion is that pieces that are about 1 inch square and about 4 inches long are a good size. I like to soak them in water (I keep some soaking all the time), but other liquids will work, and then put them on the fire. For a long cook I put one piece in the center and one more near a "cool spot" that will later burn. Two pieces will smoke for several hours (5 - 6 with no problem)[p]I have experimented with hickory (both true hickory and pecan hickory), sugar maple, red and white oak (no difference I can see) and cherry. I want to try sassafras (sp) to see what it does.[p]My experience is that planer shavings make lots of smoke, but they don't last long. I have the ability to make the wood any size I want and have lots of scrap wood to play with, so size and quantity for me isn't a problem.[p]My favorite is hickory soaked in water to put a good smoke on pork or beef and maple (water soaked) on chicken (maple doesn't make as stong of a impact).[p]Hope this helps.[p]Buckeye Bill
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    WJS,[p]Meat will absorb smoke flavor up to the point of the surface reaching 140°F or so. The smoke will then tend to gather on the surface . From this temp upward the smoke collects on the surface, a strong smoke taste is first noticed, then a bitter bite. Smoke that has entered the meat tends to move into the meat with the heat, creating the smoke ring, and dispersing the flavor through the meat.[p]A good practice is to add the smoke flavor early in the cook while the meat is cool and allow the flavor to move in with the heat as the meal cooks. I like to add the chips and meal while the Egg is heating to cooking temperature. I use well soaked, well drained (dry on the surface) chips and add them (about a handfull) directly on the hot coals. Put the top ceramic cap on and open the bottom vent wide. A thick smoke will quickly develop. As the temp rises (it will initially drop), control the limiting the bottom vent and the smoking time by replacing the ceramic cap with the slider/daisey and setting both vents to achieve cooking temperature.[p]The rest of the smoke flavor added is from just the charcoal.[p]Spin
  • WJSWJS Posts: 54
    Thanks for the response, it all makes sense, and I shall give it a shot.[p]Question for tonight, I'm doing some filets, and was planning on the high temp/sear, then dwell, technique.[p]I want to get dome temp up around 750+ initially. Should I put on alot of chips as the meat will sear quickly, or am I still OK because the meat temp is low? (I like my steaks pretty rare). I'm planning on hickory, and I've got a wide range of sizes soaking.[p]Thanks.[p]

  • Spin,[p]Can you help with achieving a good smoke flavor in burgers and steaks? Low and slow is not an issue, I've followed the advice from the all the great members of this forum and have done well with briskets and ribs. [p]There's a local steak place that cooks a great steak over mesquite wood. You can watch them cook, and they use nothing but mesquite logs; I would say the temps are around 500 to 700, maybe more, I'll have to ask. [p]As we all know even if you add damp chunks of mesquite to a 750+ Egg you can get a great steak but no mesquite flavor, the surface of the steak or burger gets to 140 in seconds. I've tried the idea of smoking the very cold meat at 200 for 30 minutes, pulling it off, cranking the Egg up and then searing. This method doesn't get the penetrating smoke taste you get from low or slow or like the local restaurant. The smoke flavor is on the surface and a little bitter.[p]I've experimented with this issue and noticed I can get a decently smoked steak or burger if cooked between 400 and 500 degrees. Unfortunately, you just don't get the same searing properties you can get at 750+. I wonder if a sizeable amount of mesquite (6 - 8 chunks) would help, what's your thoughts?[p]Thanks in advance,[p]CC
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    WJS,[p]A very hot fire requires lots of airflow to feed it. Any smoke created will quickly go out the top vent and do little for the meal.[p]Smoke the cold (stick them in the freezer to stiffen them up a bit) steaks early while heating your Egg for the cook. The same method described above. Remove the steaks after smoking (and before any cooking happens) to the freezer to cool them back down again as your Egg heats to searing temperature.[p]Cook the steak as is your preference.[p]Spin
  • WessBWessB Posts: 6,937
    As others have posted..I to prefer chunks, I soak them in typically water for at least 1/2 hour, and use wood chips on things that cook faster or shorter..[p]Wess

  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    ColoradoCook,[p]The difference you describe is in the fuel used. Lump charcoal is very pure, over 95% pure carbon, with little left to introduce the deep smoke flavor you describe. Cooking over raw wood may be an option for what you seek.[p]I have noticed that a smoked meat (not cooked) tends to produce a much more pronounced taste after it has been cooled and then reheated. I smoke (early, heavy and remove) ham bones with meat in preparation for lima bean soup. Always, the soup just hints of the smoke taste the day it is made. Reheated the next day, the smoke flavor is much more pronounced. The flavor then remained the same.[p]Maybe you can smoke and store for a later cook. Allow the meat to slowly change temperture to allow the flavor to move through the meat - cooling to store and also warming to the cook. I haven't tried this, just a thought for your experimentation. [p]Spin
  • WJS,
    My experience has been that BURNING chips produce very little smoke. If you allow smoking chips to ignite, the amount of smoke will disappear to almost nothing. That's why it's hard to get smoke going for a 750 degree steak sear and dwell. [p]TNW

    The Naked Whiz
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