Smoking has always been a way of cooking food ever since the ancient days of the cavemen. It’s either used to preserve meat or to improve the taste of food or dish. Thankfully in this day and age, you don’t need to have an open fire to smoke your meat since smokers and grills are already available for your smoking needs.
If you are looking to smoke your first turkey, or you’ve been trying to improve it but you’re still on the quest to find that perfect taste, knowing the right and the best wood to use might help you out. Smoking a turkey can be challenging as it has the tendency to get overcooked, but when you finally get that perfect flavor, it’s definitely worth it.
Why don’t you begin your journey by finding the best wood? Here is some information to give you a head start.
Why Should You Choose the Right Wood?
This is one of the vital decisions you would have to make because this is where the subtle flavor comes from. Choose the wrong one, and you might end up having an inedible turkey. What a waste would that be.
A smoked turkey is always a sure winner because of the texture of the meat, and it’s just so flavorful. The reason for its rich taste is because it’s cooked for length of hours, continuously basting itself, that’s why it doesn’t get dry. Add up the smoke that carries amazing flavor, that even just by seasoning it with the usual pepper, salt, a bit of onion and garlic, is already enough to give your turkey that mouthwatering taste.
This is also the reason why it’s a must to choose the right wood to match with the turkey. There are different types of wood that can be used for smoking meat, but you need to find the one that would impart the right flavor. You can’t just use any wood because it can work against the turkey that you’re going to cook.
Another reason would be not all woods are suited or compatible for the grill or the smoker. You might buy something that your smoker cannot handle, and that would be a waste of time and money.
What’s the Right and Best Wood for Smoking Turkey?
When choosing the wood that matches the one for turkey, go for those that are okay to use with poultry. Fruit woods such as peach, cherry, pear, and apple would be the best because they have sweet, fruity, and light flavors. They might be more challenging to find, but their subtle and light flavor is worth the effort.
Is it okay to combine wood? Yes, it is, as it can also help give depth in the flavor of your meat. An example would be the combination of plum and maple wood that would carry out a subtly sweet and slightly smoky taste without having to worry about overpowering the flavor of the turkey. Other good choices for wood combinations for smoking poultry would be pecan, mulberry, peach, olive, and nectarine.
You also need to check what kind of smoker you have, so you’d know if you should get wood chips or wood chunks. There are gas and electric smokers that are only able to work with wood chips since they are smaller in pieces. If your smoker can handle wood chunks and you know you’d be smoking for a longer period of time, it’s best to use them since they are larger. They would produce more smoke, and you won’t have to add more every now and then.
Another thing is you need to use the kind of hardwood that are high in flavor and low in resin. Go for the premium quality as well. After all, quality wood means quality flavor, right? Choose the ones that are heavy for their size because this would indicate that the wood is fresh enough to use for smoking. Those woods that are old and dry would burn too quickly and would produce a lot of smoke.
Do you Leave or Remove the Bark on the Wood?
This one would be a matter of experimentation and personal taste since this is a very subjective issue. Some say the bark gives a richer flavor, while others say that it gives a harsh flavor or taste to the meat. There are also some that would say it gives a completely different taste or flavor, and then there are those who would insist that it doesn’t make a lot of difference at all. There are even claims about the amount of smoke that it produces, that it produces more if you leave the bark on.
This is why this subject matter would be up to you and if you want to experiment with it. If you’re only a beginner, it’s best to follow the instructions on the wood package first just to be on the safe side.
Here are some of the best wood for smoking turkey that are the market’s top sellers to give you an idea of what to get the next time you want to cook a smoked turkey for your friends and family.
[amazon bestseller=”wood for smoking”]
Smoking a turkey can be intimidating and challenging at first, just like any other new endeavor. However, it’s also a very rewarding process, especially if you get that perfect taste and flavor that you are aiming for. Don’t be afraid to experiment but also don’t stray away too much from the advice of the experts. Over time, with a little bit of practice and experience, you’ll not just be able to smoke turkeys but other meats as well. You can start your journey with the information we provided above that will be helpful in getting that perfectly smoked turkey.
Among the list of the best wood for smoking turkey that we have provided, the product that most people recommend is the Western Premium BBQ Products Apple BBQ Cooking Chunks, so you may want to check that one out first.
We also talked about the proper way of reheating leftover smoked turkey. Do check it out!
That’s it for now and if you have comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to leave it here.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.