It is a well established fact that the wood type and quality are of paramount importance when smoking meat. The quality and cut of wood can make or break the deal of achieving a deliciously smoked meat.
So, one of the most recurring questions among the barbequing chefs is what wood is best for smoking meat. And in retort to that, another question that almost always pops up is ‘are maple wood chips best for smoking meat?’
Before answering that question, we will have to consider a few important points that are imperative to smoking meat. It has been an adage that wood, meat quality and heat are the basic factors to smoke a perfectly done meat. While you can be sure of the quality of meat and ascertain of the temperature and heat that you are imparting, the only thing that remains is the wood. Here are a few pointers about the wood types for smoking meat.
Know Your Woods- Wood Types
Mild and fruity, can overwhelm the flavors of meat if smoked for too long
Very strong flavors
Sweet and fruity. Gives best results when combined with woods like hardwood like oak.
Mild, subtle and slightly sweet with the right balance of flavors
Pork, Poultry, Turkey and Fish
Strong, concentrated smoking flavors recommended for open air grilling or smoking
Only good for smoking beef but can overwhelm light meats like poultry
Great for smoking jerk chicken but very difficult to source
Classic wood that is suited for certain kinds of meat only- can be bad for chicken
Pork and Bacon
Pecan is a little like hickory that can produce good flavors when mixed with fruit wood- produces nutty smell
Configuration of Wood
1. Wood Chips
Wood chips are lean chips of wood which is evident from the name. Since they are very light, these burn really quickly and you will be required to keep adding more chips at short intervals. However, these provide the most consistent smoke.
2. Wood Chunks
Wood chunks are small blocks of wood that are cut at a particular size i.e. approximately three to four inches. They mix well with charcoal and since these have a larger surface area, these tend to burn longer than wood chips.
3. Wood Splits
Wood Splits are long thin slices of wood that burn evenly. Again, these burn down pretty fast and you will be required to keep re-adding more of these at very short intervals.
Now the last question that remains is that are maple wood chips best for smoking meat? If yes, then why? So we will get straight to the point and answer that question for you now:
Are Maple Wood Chips Best for Smoking Meat?
If it is not evidently clear from the charts above that maple wood is considered the most versatile and suitable to smoke all kinds of meat. We will break it down further and answer this question for you in detail.
The first rule of thumb or what we can call Barbeque Rule 101 is that you should always stick to hardwoods and not go for soft woods like cedar, pine, eucalyptus, fir, spruce or cypress etc. The only exceptions to this list are the elm wood, redwood and sycamore. And sometimes (only sometimes) birch wood too but given that it has been barked really properly.
Maple is the best kind of hardwood that compliments most kinds of meat, has a balanced subtle and fruity flavor, and imparts a slightly sweet taste to the meat. So either you choose maple or you choose sugar maple- you will be all set. It surely goes with all kinds but to get the best flavors, try it with ham or poultry and we promise you will keep going back to the combo.
In addition to that, maple wood chips are considered better than chunks or any other cut as they provide a consistent heat to the grill, the constant temperature is maintained which results in a properly smoked meat.
Soaking Wood v/s Green Wood
Some people argue that soaking wood is the same as the green wood. But we will clarify that and tell you that green wood is completely different from soaking wood. Green wood has sap which means that it has a very high percentage or moisture. While a dried out hardwood has zero percent moisture. When lit after soaking up a little, it adds more woody flavors to the meat, quintessential to its type.
Now that you have a better understanding and are sure that maple wood chips are certainly one of the best wood types to smoke meat, what are you waiting for? Get ready, get started and treat yourself with a delicious smoked meat barbecue meal.