Page 25 - May 2021 Barbecue News Magazine
P. 25

 You can add the legendary Texas flavor to your outdoor cooking adventure by using logs, chunks, chips, pellets, made with 100% post oak. And for lesser degree of smoke use lump charcoal or charcoal bri- quettes made of 100% Post Oak wood.
The type of wood/charcoal you use will make a difference.
What’s up with wood and why do Pit Mas- ters make such a fuss over specific species anyway, does it really matter?
Few things can be as important to the fla- vor of your food than the fuel. The char- coal or wood you choose will directly affect the color, taste, and texture of your meal. Charcoal/wood is the last ingredi- ent but the first flavor you perceive. You can smell that smoky goodness long be- fore you take a bite. Not all charcoal/wood is created equal, the qual- ity and species of the wood makes a differ- ence.
When wood is burned it releases tiny particles that are both visible and invisible. The larger compounds that can be seen are known as smoke and the smaller unseen com- pounds are called fumes or gas. The combination of these particles surrounds and is absorbed into the food you cook. They will change the way the food looks, tastes, and feels. Different wood will affect your food differently.
Thermal combustion of different types of wood combined with the environment you cook in will alter the appear- ance, flavor, and texture of
your food. Most of the
structural material in hard- wood is cellulose and hemi- celluloses which are held together by lignin and tan- nins. The smoke and fumes from a wood fire is mostly levoglucosan and can con- tain up to 200 different compounds. Plant cellu- lose is a sugar compound and when heated caramelizes and releases a sweet flowery and fruity smell. The heated com- pounds also form carbonyls which are brownish and re- sponsible for most of the color of smoked food. The lignin is a phenolic com- pound and when it is heated
will form guaiacol and syringol which has a smoky, spicy, and pungent smell and taste. Post oak contains 40–45% cellu- lose, 20–25% hemicellulose, 25–30% lignin, and 8–15% tannins.
When the smoke settles on the available surface area these compounds are trans- ferred to the food. During the cooking process the convection currents within the food will move these compounds from the surface into the center of food. The heat and acids inside the food breakdown and transform these smoke compounds into colors, tastes, and textures.
Barbecue is an American original and very regional cuisine*. Historically the Spanish explorers noted the use of different types of wood used in different areas for differ- ent meats as early as 1536. Barbecue changes every 50 miles or 50 years you travel. Like any good wine or style of pizza, the regional sourcing of the fresh- est ingredients, varying cultural back-
grounds and historical foodways will make a difference in meal preparation and taste. The best way to get to know the people and history of an area is to eat local.
*The slow roasting of large cuts of meats over a smoky fire was first witnessed in 1496 by Columbus on his second voyage. Native Americans placed wood grids called ‘barba- coa’ high above the fire to prepare their food because they could not use metal. Barbecue is the anglicization of the Spanish word barbacoa.
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