Mesquite is a controversial wood. You will most likely either really love its intense flavor and extremely hot flame or you will dislike the way it tends to overpower other flavors. As a hardwood, mesquite wood chips offer the density and dryness that you want from your smoking wood. The resin in woods can cause creosote to accumulate on food, which is why you want to smoke with seasoned hardwoods rather than green wood or softwoods.
Grilling with mesquite originally became popular in areas of Texas, where it was the most common hardwood option for smoking. In addition, it is able to burn hotter and last for longer than other smoking woods.
Mesquite wood chips are bold in flavor that works well with gamier meats. It's an excellent wood chip to cut with milder wood to create unique smoky flavors.
Table of Contents
- Which tree do mesquite wood chips come from?
- How does smoking with mesquite wood chips impact taste? How is it unique?
- Which foods work best with the mesquite wood chip flavor?
- How do you use mesquite wood smoking chips?
- Must-read related posts
Which tree do mesquite wood chips come from?
The wood used to make mesquite wood chips comes from the mesquite tree, which grows extensively in Texas. Mesquite trees are native to the American southwest, Mexico and South America. In Texas, it can be problematic for ranchers since it tends to kill grass needed for feeding cattle. It also has thorns that are big enough and sharp enough to puncture tires.
It does have some big positives in that it is a flavorful hardwood that is perfect for grilling and is also attractive enough to be used for woodwork.
How does smoking with mesquite wood chips impact taste? How is it unique?
The mesquite wood flavor is one of the distinctive aspects of barbecue from the American southwest. Mesquite gives a bold, distinctive, and savory note to the foods on which it is used. It is arguably the strongest and easiest to identify of all the smoking woods.
Which foods work best with the mesquite wood chip flavor?
Mesquite’s flavor works well with all meats, but you will have to take care when using it on milder meats like chicken or fish. Limit the time that the meat is exposed to it or balance with other woods to keep the flavor from becoming too strong.
When using mesquite wood chips in combination with other woods, opt for a much milder wood like pecan or apple wood. Using mesquite chips with hickory can make the problem worse since hickory is almost as strong. Use mesquite by itself with especially strong-flavored meats like beef or wild game.
One of mesquite’s big benefits is the fact that you do not need to smoke food with it for hours for it to get a strong flavor. Foods that require moderate cooking times like burgers and dark meat chicken can get the mesquite flavor because of how pungent it is.
How do you use mesquite wood smoking chips?
While many barbecue aficionados suggest soaking chips to prevent them burning out too quickly, most professionals argue that this does nothing but postpone the burning for a few minutes. The soaked chips will eventually dry out and burn no differently than dry chips.
Instead, it is suggested that you use a smoker box on your gas or charcoal grill to slow the rate at which they burn. Alternatively, you can wrap the chips in aluminum foil to make a packet; poke some holes in the packet and place them on the coals or over the burners.
Depending on what you are cooking, you may need to refill your smoker box or add a new packet every hour or so. This will ensure that your food is exposed to smoke for long enough to take on the flavor.
Must-read related posts
- Wood Chips Primer: Learn all about different flavors of wood chips, plus tips on how to get the most from smoking with them.
- Smoker Pellets Vs. Wood Chips: How do these two smoking methods compare?
- Cold Smoking Vs. Hot Smoking: What are the differences? And how do the smoky flavors compare?