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hickory and mesquite, what's the difference?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm really new too smoking, so far I have worked through a bag of hickory chips. I'm now getting hickory and mesquite chunks which I hope will add a better depth of flavour with a more prolonged burn.

Does anyone have any preference with the different woods? Should I treat then differently? My final question is whether using either is more liable to cause a temperature spike in my kamado grill?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Happy smoking

Justin
post #2 of 18

Hi Justin

 

Both are good woods to smoke with but they tend to be used with different meats.

 

Hickory is a good all-round wood that produces a sweeter fragrant smoke. It is quite strong though compared with, say, apple wood or even oak.

 

Mesquite produces a very strong, distinctive smoke that really works best with robust red meats, like brisket. Mesquite is commonly used in Texas, where it is abundant, however it can be a bit of an acquired taste if used by itself.

 

If you were to compare them to chillies, Applewood would be the Poblano - Hickory would be the Jalapeno - and Mesquite would be the Bhut Jolokia.

 

You should be able to use them all in the same way in the Komodo. The resulting temperature will be down to your air flow through the smoker which you control using the Komodo vents.

 

I hope that helps

 

Wade

post #3 of 18

Hello Justin.  I can not speak about your Kamado.  Never used one.  Both woods are hardwood and should burn about the same under the same conditions  The main difference is the taste.  Most folks like hickory.  It has a certain flavour they may have even had before in a processed meat, cheese or bacon.  Mesquite on the other hand has a totally different "in your face" taste.  BIG BOLD taste that folks have usually never had before.  Don't get me wrong, growing up in Texas I didn't know BBQ had any different taste for many years.  I LOVE it and I still use it when smoking for just the 2 of us.  When others are around I tend to shy away from mesquite because it is not to everyone's taste.  I have 2 "go to" woods I mostly use.  Mesquite and I also like Pecan.  And I would say in that order if it is just for me.  With the pecan I also add a bit of Cherry.  Adds a little sweetness and produces a rich mahogany colour.  Mesquite adds colour by itself.  If you are gong to try Mesquite, try it first with BEEF.  If you have never had it before you will quickly understand why.  I would use Mesquite on cardboard and be a happy camper.  :icon_biggrin:  Well that's my opinion.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #4 of 18

Great advice above! Hickory is a common smoke wood in the states with Mesquite being pretty much limited to use in Texas and areas of the surrounding states. Mesquite is one of the strongest flavored smokes but can be moderated by using small amounts with other woods and/or limiting the time the meat is in contact with it. Hickory is probably the second strongest so it may be a good idea to take it easy if you and your family are new to smoked meat. I love Mesquite, spent a lot of time in TX and OK, but my wife HATES the taste and becomes nauseated at the smell. As a newbie smoker I used 100% Hickory and after the first season the family told me they needed a break. I switched to Fruit Woods, Apple, Cherry, Maple, then started adding Hickory to the mix and all has been fine. I now smoke with Pellets from A-MAZE-N Products that are a 1/3 each blend of Hickory, Cherry and Maple and the family loves it on everything. Go easy with what you have or search out some Fruit Woods until you and yours develop a taste for smoked meats. Oak is common around the world and is a great tasting option as well...JJ

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys, really very helpful from you all.

The idea of pellets sounds interesting, do you treat them the same as the wood chunks-give them a soaking before smoking?

I think my approach with the mesquite will be to mix it in with the hickory, say 2 hickory chunks to 1 mesquite, see how it goes. I'll get some pecan wood too. Looking forward to having a bit of a play.

My family seem to be taking to the smoked meat really well so far, I certainly don't want to burst the bubble with way too much flavour too soon!

Happy smoking

Justin
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
By the way chef jj, tried your Smokey au jus recipe. It was delicious, many thanks! :-)
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by irishkamadoguy View Post

The idea of pellets sounds interesting, do you treat them the same as the wood chunks-give them a soaking before smoking?

 

No don't soak them or they will fall apart.

There are a couple of ways to use them. You can simply sprinkle them on top of the coals as you would do the wood chunks - especially effective if you are using the Minion method. You can also use a smoke generator - like an AMNTS placed on or under your cooking rack. Alternatively place them in a metal bowl or loosely wrap in foil that is placed directly over the heat.

 

When I use them in the Weber I place them directly on the coals. You would have to experiment in the Komodo though.

 

LLLL 

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Wade,

So looking up the AMNTS -it is a metal tube which you fill with the pellets? How long does the smoke last for with this set up? Would you say it is a better set up than chunks of wood?

Justin
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by irishkamadoguy View Post

By the way chef jj, tried your Smokey au jus recipe. It was delicious, many thanks! :-)

Great to hear. If there is anything else I can help with, shoot me a PM. I do a lot of recipe development for our members....JJ

post #10 of 18

With the AMNTS it really depends on the temperature in the smoker. The hotter it is the quicker the tube tends to burn. You can also buy them in different lengths. I don't usually use the AMNTS when hot smoking but when I have, the 12" smoker lasted about 3 hours between fills (maybe a little longer) and the 6" lasted about an hour and a half. On Todd's site he states 4 hours and 2 hours respectively at 225 - and that would be about right. You do not need to produce smoke for the whole of the cook and many of us foil wrap our meat after the first 3-4 hours anyway. If you need to though the AMNTS tubes are quick to refill.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks chef, we're lucky to have you here!
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Wade,

I will try my luck with the wood chunks for more and experiment with wrapped unwrapped during cooking. My problem is updating a carefully laid temperature mood long cook in the kamado. Open the lid, wrap/baste meat, bbq temp drops, open bottom and top Windows to increase temp, try to stabilise at the same temp..... Pain in the ass.
post #13 of 18

There is no need to soak your chunks in water.  Even if you soaked them for 5 days the water would only penetrate a couple of mm's. 

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/what-does-soaking-wood-chunks-really-do

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks smokewood, that saves me a lot of hassle pissing about soaking my wood for no benefit.

Many thanks

Justin
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by irishkamadoguy View Post

Thanks Wade,

I will try my luck with the wood chunks for more and experiment with wrapped unwrapped during cooking. My problem is updating a carefully laid temperature mood long cook in the kamado. Open the lid, wrap/baste meat, bbq temp drops, open bottom and top Windows to increase temp, try to stabilise at the same temp..... Pain in the ass.

 

Ain't this smokin thing a BLAST!!!!  The longer it takes the more time for cold beverages.  :icon_biggrin:  Don't tell the Missus but a 10Kg brisket can be done in about 1/2 hr..  I just strech it out for 12 hrs..  cheers.gif:ROTF   Hang in.  Once you learn that Kamado it will be easy.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Haha Danny,

The missus is already sceptical about the length of time some of the cooks are taking!

Happy smoking

Justin
post #17 of 18

Be very careful - Danny is from Texas and so eats his steaks blue. Even with briskets he just sears them for 30 seconds a side before putting them between two pieces of bread. If the weather is hot and its been in the car he does not even bother to light the BBQ.

post #18 of 18

!Hello.  Yeah. So what is your point Wade??  So what's wrong with the redneck method??  You tryin to say I ain't normal? You mean others treat their meat differently  th_dunno-1[1].gif .  Ill bet you folks even drive by perfectly good road kill without even checking if is still warm.  :icon_lol:  Keep Smokin!

Danny

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