How to Get Smokehouse Flavor from Any Grill
Wood chunks, chips, or pellets can make your meals taste like something straight from a barbecue master’s fire pit
Nothing says outdoor cooking like smoky flavor, and you don’t have to have a full-blown barbecue pit to achieve it. With just a little preparation and the right technique, any gas, wood, or briquette grill can infuse your steaks, chops, ribs, and loins with the hardwood flavor of your choice.
The most common form of grill-top smoking is with hardwoods chips. They come in about every species of wood you could conceivably want to smoke with, from pecan to apple, mesquite, hickory, and more. When in doubt, you can never go wrong with hickory. Use the chips dry to impart just a tinge of smokiness as a finishing touch. Or for deeper flavor, soak the chips for a half hour and spread them directly on well-lit briquettes or arranged in a smoking box, or create a little boat of tinfoil to rest above the flames of a gas grill. Soaked chips will simmer for a half hour or more, plenty long enough to dress up burgers, steaks, or chops.
If you want longer smoking time, such as for a rack of ribs or even a pork shoulder, you’re going to need something that will light and stay lit. Hardwood chunks are the same as chips, just longer lasting. Use them dry or soaked the same way as chips and monitor the cook every half hour or so to determine whether you need to create some airflow for the chunks to keep smoking or possibly add more chunks.
When it comes to home barbecuing, commercial hardwood pellets and bisquettes are the state of the smoking arts. Yes, they are prefab and maybe cheating a little, but they take the guesswork out of smoke infusion and allow you to focus on recipes, cook time, and presentation. Pellets and bisquettes are usually meant to work with specific brands of smokers, such as Traeger and Bradley.