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How to Set Up Your Barbecue

It’s time to raise the stakes on summer grilling. This definitive handbook will help you make every meal sizzle. 

Illustration of how to set up a charcoal grillBrown Bird Design1 of 2

Lesson 2: Flavoring the Fire

The secret to robust flavor is not a robust pit-master—it’s wood chips. “They add a delicious smokiness to all kinds of grilled foods, even quick-cooking items, like shrimp and boneless chicken breasts,” says Chandler. Here are a few to try.

Apple: Match this sweet, fruity pick with poultry and pork.

Hickory: A traditional rich southern flavor (think hickory-smoked bacon). Stands up to pork chops, ribs, lamb, and poultry.

Mesquite: Used in the Southwest to cook everything from chops to fajitas, this strong, earthy favorite pairs well with beef, poultry, and salmon. Stick with items that take 20 minutes or less—much longer and your food will start to taste bitter.

Oak: The mild, woodsy scent is delicious with beef, pork, fish, and shellfish.

How to Use Wood Chips
At least 15 minutes before grilling, soak a handful of chips in water or a flavorful liquid, such as apple juice or beer.

With a gas grill: Put the chips in a small disposable aluminum pan or a smoker box (available where grills are sold, $10 to $16). Preheat the grill and place the pan on a burner, below the grate. When smoke begins to appear, start cooking.

With a charcoal grill: Add a handful of soaked wood chips to burning coals just before cooking. When smoke begins to appear, start cooking.

 
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Aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a drawer

The flan can be baked up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate, loosely covered with plastic wrap. Unmold just before serving.