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Hoplite

Does anyone use wood instead of charcoal?

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Ive been a gas griller and am going to purchase a charcoal grill. charcoal is always messy and ive never been a fan of the reality of all that black dust making its way into my food. I was wondering if anyone has tried hard wood instead of briquettes and what was your take on that? also are there any specific woods which are cheap that are recommended for general use? What issues did you run into by using wood instead of charcoal?

thanks

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I think cooking over wood would be great, but it would take a lot more time. I don't think black dust is much of a problem (with lump at least).

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If you use good briquettes, I don't think black dust is an issue? But YMMV.

 

I've cooked steak over wood. As f-ambition mentioned, great for steak, not so good for chicken (and everything else). Heat is so intense. But once those wood chunk reduce to raging hot coals, you've never had better steak.:drool:

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It's possible to use wood, but you need a big area grilling area to go indirect, lots of height adjustment and maybe a big "lid" to keep it under control. Also tons of time to start a fire and wait till it gets right. You can cook s'mores and hot dogs over an open "campfire" but that's about it. What's his name recently did a show from Manhattan at a place where they cooked everything w wood. They had a wood fired oven, and a open fire grill as well as a spit.

 

Don't over think it. Get a weber grill, some kingsford briquettes or some hardwood lump and get after it.

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You say "charcoal" - I assume you mean briquettes. You should try hardwood (lump) charcoal. Briquettes are kinda like sausage - you don't know what's really in them. Hardwood charcoal is hardwood. Much less dust and burns longer. Like the flavor of the food better too.

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If you use a chimney starter, and you should, you'll never have to worry about your food tasting like lighter fluid. And I've never found "briquette dust" to be an issue with cooking food. Put a few pages of your favorite newspaper in the hopper at the bottom, fill the chimney with briquettes, light the thing, and in 30-40 minutes you'll be good to go, with no chemical odors or vapors.

 

As the others have said, real hardwood charcoal is great for high-heat direct grilling, like for steaks and for tuna (tuna steaks over a hardwood charcoal fire are delicious). For low-and-slow cooking, though, I prefer briquttes. The good thing, if you're not sure what to use, is that they're both pretty cheap, so you can experiment with both to see what you prefer. I always have a bag or two of both on hand, just in case.

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I'll second the use of the chimney and newspaper for starting charcoal. I never use lighter fluid so I forgot to mention it. (I use the chimney when grilling but don't use one when smoking because it lights more coal that I want for the low temp cooking.)

 

Regarding hardwood vs briquettes for smoking. I like hardwood charcoal in my smoker. A load of hardwood charcoal will burn for 19-22 hours at 190-220 degrees in my smoker. I find that briquettes don't burn as long, produce more ash, and the ash blocks the vent holes. Every smoker is different so you'll have to find what is best for yours. (I use a big green egg.)

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is there any other way besides the chimney?

 

 

 

I use the weber fire starter cubes instead of newspaper. Very convenient no to mention they are good for the chiminea as well.

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is there any other way besides the chimney?

 

 

 

I use the weber fire starter cubes instead of newspaper. Very convenient no to mention they are good for the chiminea as well.

 

I use the cube when I can find them, they are definitely the fastes. Sometimes I'll use a small piece of paper towel with a little oil or bacon grease and it burns for a pretty long time.

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I cook with wood all year long, even in the winter. There are a few important things you'll have to know, but its pretty simple once you know the basics.

 

 

You want dry, bark free wood that has good coaling properties. I use hickory, oak, hard maple, and cherry because they produce hot, long lasting coals. You never want to use pines or cedars. You also want to stay away from woods like popular and walnut.

 

You can cook anything you want with wood including chicken, but you have to become adept at building and maintaining your fire. I cut my wood into pieces approx. 2"x2" square. This ensures that all the pieces have similar burn times and turn to coals quickly and at the same time. Using firewood sized logs makes it much more difficult to get an even fire.

 

I put the wood blocks loosely into the grill about 12" high and light it up. I let it burn with the lid open for about 10 minutes. Then I take an old metal spatula and stir the coals up so that any unburned pieces get burned. I let that burn for a minute or two and then I add more blocks on top, repeating the process, until I get my 12" of coals. This usually takes about 30 minutes and you know its ready when there almost no smoke. If you're cooking something that requires a long cooking time, like chicken, you'll have to periodically add pieces to the coal bed. I will add the blocks and let them burn for a few minutes with the lid open, then I'll close the lid to continue the cooking.

 

If I'm cooking something like roasted chicken I will move all the coals to the left side of the grill and place the chicken on the right side and close the lid. If I'm cooking chicken pieces I do it the same way except when the chicken pieces are cooked I will move them over the coals for a few minutes to crispen up the skin. Then if I want I can apply barbecue sauce and move it over to the left side for a few minutes. Meat can be cooked directly over the coals.

 

At any time during the cooking you can add moistened wood pieces if you are looking to smoke your food.

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I've cooked with would as well"chunk" and as some has said indirect or banking is key also i've cooked with walnut and had no problem with it it's just taste different.If you can get a hold of Sassafrass i spelt this wrong It's good with hamburgs.Experiment everyone has different taste.

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ive been using trader joes hardwood briquettes and theyve been perfect. I used lump charcoal as well with success. for flavor ive tried both chips and chunks but prefer the chunks. i need to go to the orchards in the fall as im pretty sure im overpaying for the wood at home depot

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