We’re officially entering BBQ season, and you know what that means: outdoor malts and meat. Bliss. If you want to lift your BBQ game and evolve your repertoire from bland old snags to smoke-infused goodness, then you’re ready to make your own smoking woodchips. Congratulations.
Made from wood scraps and shavings, smoking chips are an easy way to enhance and complement the flavour of meat. So, before you fire up your next barbie, put down the tongs and get the 101 on smoking chips.
Sure, charcoal adds a nice flavour to meat, but smoking chips will take it to a new level — there are loads of different types of wood, so you’ve got more selection and more control over the types of flavour you want to create. Smoking chips are made from a blend of fruit and nut wood — think apple, cherry, alder and mesquite. And of course, different varieties are better paired with different types of meat. But be warned: the type of chips you use will have a BIG difference to the flavour — so choose wisely.
The most common types of smoking chips:
This is the most commonly used wood chips for smoking. Hickory gives off a sweet but strong bacon-like flavour. Delicious, right? It’s great for longer smoking times, too. So, if you’ve got a larger cut of meat, hickory will really add a robust flavour.
Mesquite is best used for smoking beef and pork. It’s got a distinctive earthy sweetness that makes it superb for beef and pork. Just keep in mind, you’ll need to keep a close eye on cooking times with mesquite because it can really overwhelm your meat.
Apple’s on the lighter side of the smoking chip spectrum. It gives off a mild and sweet flavour that makes it great for poultry and fish. It’s also great for ham and bacon — think pork and apple sauce, mmm.
Cherry chips are chill: with a mellow and sweet flavour with just a dash of tartness, cherry chips match most types of meat. But they work best with port, duck, venison and poultry.
With a rich, sweet and nutty flavour, pecan is stronger than most fruitwood. Team it up with pork, duck, and chicken. In fact, you can pair pecan with most types of meat.
Oak is popular. In terms of flavour, oak is heavier than the fruity chips but not as strong as hickory and mesquite. It gives off a nice, rounded medium smoky flavour that makes it a good match for just about any protein. Smoking chip hot tip: soak oak chips in a heavier red wine like to introduce a delicious dash of complexity.
Here comes the dram-tastic twist, you guessed it - whisky smoking chips.
Whisky smoking chips
Yes, whisky smoking chips. The simple at-home DIY BBQ crowd pleaser! Whisky smoking chips will add an even deeper dimension to the effect of your smoking chips that’ll work great with pork, beef or poultry.
1. Add two 30ml drams of your favourite whisky to a container of woodchips, then fill it up with water and seal the container. Leave it for at least 30 minutes, but ideally a couple of days so the whisky infuses into the woodchips.
2. Remove the chips and allow them to dry completely.
You can use smoking chips in hooded or kettle BBQs -just scatter the chips on top of the coals, but if you’re cooking with gass you’ll need to put the smoking chips in a smoker box. Alternatively, you can take the DIY route and wrap the chips up in aluminium foil and poke a few holes through the top with a skewer.
Make sure you keep the lid closed for as long as you can to let the smoke go to work on your meat.
There you have it, a simple way to add a new dimension to your weekend BBQ. You can pick up smoking chips from BBQ and hardware stores. Happy smoking, folks! Be sure to tag us in some photos on Facebook and Instagram if you give it a go, we'd love to see them.