Cheryl Alters Jamison & Bill Jamison

Wood Flavoring Chart

The following text and recipes are from Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Read Way to Barbecue, on Your Charcoal Grill, Water Smoker, or Wood-Burning Pit by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, reprinted with permission from The Harvard Common Press, 535 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118.

Alder: The traditional wood for smoking salmon in the Pacific Northwest, alder also works well with other fish. It has a light delicate flavor.

Apple and Cherry: Both woods produce slightly sweet, fruity smoke that's mild enough for chicken or turkey, but capable of flavoring a ham.

Hickory: Hickory is the king of the woods in the Southern barbecue belt, as basic to the region's cooking as cornbread. The strong, hearty taste is perfect for pork shoulder or ribs, but it also enhances any red meat or poultry.

Maple: Mildly smoky and sweet, maple mates well with poultry, ham, and vegetables.

Mesquite: The mystique wood of the past decade, mesquite is also America's most misunderstood wood. It's great for grilling because it burns very hot, but below average for barbecuing for the same reason. Also, the smoke taste turns from tangy to bitter over an extended cooking time. Few serious pitmasters use mesquite, despite a lot of stories about its prevalence in the Southwest.

Oak: If hickory is the king of barbecue woods, oak is the queen. Assertive but always pleasant, it's the most versatile of hardwoods, blending well with a wide range of flavors. What is does to beef brisket is probably against the law in some states.

Pecan: The choice of many professional chefs, pecan burns cool and offers a subtle richness of character. Some people call it a mellow version of hickory.