Barbeque wood (BBQ) is a major part of the massive world that is wood-fired cooking. Many world-class chefs know the ins and outs of techniques across smoking, grilling and barbequing, but is there any hope for the average person? Can you conduct a wooden BBQ from your humble backyard?
We think so! What’s more, we can provide the necessary materials, confidence and education for you to get started. We’d like to share with you how to prepare your first wood-fired BBQ and why kiln-dried hardwood is the optimal fuel source for the job.
The Difference Between Grilling and Barbeque
Grills are for more than grilling. You can also use them to BBQ meat, but what’s the difference? BBQ is a longer process, requiring extra time to marinate meat in sauce and evenly cook it to the point of extreme, fall-right-off-the-bone tenderness.
As an indirect form of cooking, BBQ is also achievable with a smoker, but you can mimic the smoking process in a grill by leaving the fuel and food on opposite sides.
Best use cases for BBQ include succulent ribs as well as pulled pork sandwiches. Cooked at low heat (a little more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit) for a long period of time, the meat will be tender and delicious! Whole birds, like turkey and chicken, are also great to BBQ.
To BBQ meat as authentically as possible, you’ll need extra equipment that separates the food from the heat. This will slow the process enough to ensure even cooking and maximum tenderness.
Place a ceramic or metal tray between the smoldering cooking wood and the rack of the grill. Also, the grill’s lid will have to be closed to surround the food with consistently mild heat. Finally, for best results, you’ll need a brush or an injector for sauce.
Ultimately, grilling and BBQ are distinct cooking methods that happen to require similar equipment. Grilling is just the quick, simple version that doesn’t add a lot of extra flavor.
Using Enough of the Best Fuel
Make sure you have enough of the right fuel. If you’re BBQing, use cooking wood instead of charcoal, as the former can add subtle smoky notes of flavor to whatever you make, and BBQ is all about adding flavor in unique ways.
But don’t use just any wood for cooking. To enjoy best results, you’ll need none other than kiln-dried hardwood in chunks small enough for a grill.
Kiln-dried hardwood is best because high dryness and density allow it to burn most easily in comparison to other types of firewood.
As most may infer, starting a fire with dry wood is a lot easier than using fresh wood. When you kiln-dry wood instead of seasoning it, you end up with firewood that burns a lot more easily.
In seasoned wood, residual moisture is at about 30%, but in kiln-dried wood, this moisture is beneath 20%.
Density is also important because it determines the heat and duration of the fire. Softwoods, like pine, will yield short fires that don’t provide much heat.
On the other hand, hardwoods, like oak and hickory, are much more effective sources for fuel, providing a lot of consistent heat for a large amount of time.
Combining extraordinary density and dryness into a single firewood product, you end up with the best of the best, especially if you’re looking to cook.
Interested in pairing a certain species of hardwood with a certain food? The form of wood-fired cooking doesn’t have much of an effect on which species to use. For the most part, the best recognizable pairings are as follows:
Presenting little flavor of its own, oak pairs well with almost everything, especially red meat that needs the most consistent flames. Certainly, you won’t have to worry about oak overpowering the flavor of whatever you’re making.
Hickory offers some of the strongest flavors along with the strongest flames, so we don’t recommend it for beginners. This potent cooking wood offers the unmistakable flavor of BBQ that pairs well with pork shoulder, bacon and ribs.
Unlike other fruitwoods, cherry combines the smokiness of conventional hardwoods with fruitiness, providing a unique flavor that complements poultry and shellfish. You might also enjoy using it for red meats, like lamb or pork.
Apple wood doubles down on fruitiness in a way that cherry doesn’t, which makes it perfect for poultry, especially turkey. But it’s one of the few cooking woods whose mild temperatures are optimal for cooking vegetables, too.
Whichever flavor you choose, procure more firewood than you think you’ll need. To ensure even cooking, your fuel source will need to be consistent, so if you run out, you won’t be able to swap to a different source.
Cleaning Your Workspace
Make sure your workspace is squeaky clean. Scrape residue from all surfaces, wipe everything down and lubricate the grate with a small amount of oil that’s especially resistant to evaporation. The higher the oil’s boiling point, the more likely it is to prevent food from sticking to the grate.
Mise en Place
Only after cleaning as thoroughly as possible can you move onto preparing ingredients. A little mise en place never hurt anybody. By the way, this phrase literally means, “establishment.”
For the uninitiated, the idea is to set everything up before you start cooking. Note your wet and dry ingredients, measuring everything out into small bowls, so that all you need to do is dump stuff in at the right time once you start cooking. Mise en place also includes chopping vegetables as well as the several hours during which to marinate the meat.
Upon completing mise en place, you’ll need a bit more than the grill to start BBQing, potentially including skewers, a thermometer, a grilling brush and, of course, tongs. You won’t get very far without tongs.
Lighting the Fire
Now, to start the fire. Remember to combine dry kindling with genuine firewood. Kindling is highly flammable material that spreads fire to bigger logs that bring the heat.
The very arrangement of the logs should prioritize airflow, so start by leaving two logs on either side of your grill. Next, place three more logs across the first two, leaving an inch of space among them. Place another three on those three. This needn’t be exact as long as there’s a basket weave of logs beneath the grate.
After arranging your cooking wood, drizzle some cooking oil on a piece of butcher paper, slide it between the two bottom logs and light it.
Where to Buy BBQ Wood Near Me
BBQ is among the most complex, time-consuming forms of wood-fired cooking. Many confuse the process with grilling, but the two are very different from each other. Whether you’re attempting BBQ for the first time or the 10,001st time, you’ll need the best, most authentic fuel source that’s available to you.
Lumberjacks provides a wide array of kiln-dried cooking wood fit for smokers and grills of all kinds. Our available flavors include hickory, oak, cherry and apple, all of which we’ve been happy to deliver throughout Chicagoland since 1993. To schedule your order of premium cooking wood, please feel free to call us, email us or fill our online form, and we’ll be in touch!