Cook with Wood to Enhance the Flavor of Food
Since the discovery of fire, wood has been an extremely important fuel. It was used to heat and to cook. Some of the tastiest foods were prepared in wood “cook” stoves for generations. With the advent of natural gas and electric stoves, wood as a fuel for cooking is mainly used for barbecuing and smoking. Still, there’s nothing quite like the aroma of foods prepared over a wood fire.
What We Learned about Cooking With Wood from Grandma
Amazingly, our grandmothers cooked and baked in wood stoves. Some people still remember the oversized, heavy metal stoves attached to a chimney. Some Victorian kitchens even had built in kitchen fireplaces with hearths to prepare meals. From boiling water to baking cakes, these stoves and fireplaces did it all and did it to perfection. Our ancestors passed on a love of cooking over a wood fire. We learned which woods infuse foods with the best flavors. For example, fruit woods and mesquite offer a subtle smoky flavor to barbecued and smoked meats, fruits and vegetables. Spray these woods lightly with water before adding to the barbecue. The light spray will deepen the wood aroma and also keep barbecued food moist.
How to Choose the Right Wood for Barbecues
Barbecuing food on a grill requires the right type of wood. Most lumber suppliers sell these woods and kindling wood in bundles precisely sized for this purpose. These wood experts also know which types of woods are best for barbecues, fireplaces and smokers. Many restaurant owners who prepare foods in wood-fired brick ovens rely on these lumber professionals to keep them supplied with specific types of wood. Note that many restaurants prefer to use wood fired brick ovens to bake fresh bread and pizzas daily.
Techniques for Using Wood for Barbecues and Smokers
The most important rule for using wood to cook foods for barbecue or smokers is temperature. Discuss with your wood supplier which woods burn fastest and which provide longer heat. Most any meats, fruits or vegetables can be barbecued. Smoking is generally limited to meats and vegetables. For barbecued pizza and breads, allow the wood to reduce to red-hot coals that produce slightly slower heat. Pizza dough barbecues quickly so keep a close eye on the cooking process. Certain meats can be barbecued over higher temperatures. Steaks, fish and shellfish for example barbecue quickly. Pork and poultry needs a slower heat and longer cooking time, at least 45 minutes.
The techniques for barbecuing depend on personal preference. Steaks can be “flame broiled” for those who love their steak medium rare. Place steaks on the barbecue while the wood is still aflame. Each side of the steak should be seared for less than five minutes.
Smokers provide an unusually delightful flavor. Place slightly dampened wood in the bottom of the smoker and ignite. As smoke begins to rise, place meats, fish, poultry or vegetables on the smoker shelf. Smokers also bake breads and pizza.
If you have any other questions, ask the cooking with wood experts at our Melvin Mulch’s sister company Wisconsin Firewood! Call them at 414-769-9663.