A. Cort Sinnes
One of the easiest ways to add flavor to gas-grilled food
is to add wood chips to the inside of the grill when you cook.
If you do decide to experiment with wood-smoke flavoring,
you'll add a whole new dimension to your grilling repertoire,
and, with practice, you'll even be able to approximate the
skills of a venerable Southern pitmaster. To get you started,
here are the more common types of wood available, along with
the foods with which they go best:
ALDER: Traditionally pairs with seafood, especially salmon.
Also excellent with pork and chicken.
APPLE: A sweet flavor very good with ham and sausage, and
good with other pork dishes, along with poultry and game birds.
CHERRY: Great with duck and very good with chicken and turkey.
Pairs handsomely with lamb and venison, too.
HICKORY: The traditional wood for Southern-style pork barbecue,
but perfectly appropriate for beef and poultry as well.
MAPLE: Traditional, of course, with cured or cold-smoked ham,
and very fine, too, with grilled ham. A good complement for
turkey and some vegetables, such as squash.
MESQUITE: Not a traditional barbecue wood, but popular in
recent years, to say the least. Use sparingly and not over
a long cooking time, to avoid a bitter flavor. Goes well with
pork or lamb chops, beef steaks, and swordfish, and used modestly
OAK: Great with steaks and other beef dishes, and does nice
things for duck and all manner of pork.