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In the sidewinder cookers, the heated air, however baffled and directed,
still flows in strata according to the temperature. This means that the
hotter air flows up to the top of the cooking chamber and out the stack
without necessarily coming in contact with the meat on the grate. Although
some cookers are designed so that the heated must exit below the meat, the
flow is up and over, rather than under, around and through, so that the
meat does not normally come into intimate contact with grossly excessive
smoke. Rather, as the smoke cools, some of it is deposited on the sides of
the cooker and builds up layers of creosote. This shiny black, acrid layer
is an indication of an inexperienced cook. Sometimes, however, even this
serendipitous air flow can not prevent way too much smoke being deposited
on the meat.
Regardless of the species of wood, too much smoke is offensive. It is
truly amazing that those whose palates do not rebel at creosote
contaminated meat are the same ones who claim that they can discern the
flavor of grape leaves, wine barrel French oak, Mackintosh apple or June
berry. Fact is that, except for a few wood species, such as hickory and
mesquite, less that 5% of the palates in the world can tell what kind of
wood was used to cook.
It's time we clear the air with some facts.
Five Reasons why wood coals are superior
to flaming wood for cooking:
|1. Green woods are 20-40% water. This must be boiled off before the wood
can burn. This means that BTUS (British Thermal Units - a measure of heat)
are used to boil water rather than to cook.
|2. Dry wood still has 8-12% moisture and contains many compounds which
must be cooked out - absorbing BTUs - before the temperature can rise.
|3. As long as there are moisture and volatiles to boil out, the
temperature cannot rise above the boiling point of the substances.
Therefore, in order to reach broiling temperatures - 5-700 degrees - all
the moisture and volatiles must be driven out. At that point the wood
|4. Successful broiling - steaks, burgers, chops - requires high radiant
heat. Flames of burning wood do not generate radiant heat at temperatures
as high as live embers.
|5. In the hours' long cooking periods, such as roasting and barbecuing,
the smoke flavor in the wood coals is more than ample. Anytime that you see
a full plume of smoke coming out of a barbecue cooker, you know that the
cook in making a serious error.
Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
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