Pecan wood is classified as a hardwood, which means that it is denser than softwoods. That density allows it to last for longer when it is being used to smoke meats. Because hardwoods like pecan are not as resinous as softwoods like pine and fir, they burn much cleaner. The cleaner burning refers to the fact that the smoke does not leave a thick, sooty film on foods. That film can cause serious illnesses in addition to giving foods an unpleasant taste. Pecan wood gives off a light blue smoke like other hardwoods.
Which tree do pecan wood chips come from?
Pecan wood chips come from pecan trees which belong to the hickory family. Pecan trees are found mostly in the southeastern parts of the US. The pecan tree is the state tree of Texas and can grow higher than 150 feet under the right conditions.
Pecan wood chip flavor—how does it affect the taste of foods? How is it unique?
Pecan wood can be considered the light version of hickory. Hickory is best known for its use with bacon and it gives a similar flavor to everything it is used to smoke. Pecan wood smoke offers many of the same flavor notes, just not quite as intense. Both provide a distinctive sweet, nutty, and earthy flavor to all kinds of foods and one that pairs especially well with meats. Whereas hickory can easily overpower milder flavored foods when it is used in excess, the danger of doing this is limited with pecan wood.
Like pecan wood chips, pecan shells are also often used to smoke meats; however, some believe that they can give meats a bitter taste.
How do you select pecan wood chips for smoking?
Like all wood for smoking, your pecan wood chips should be properly dried to get rid of the water content and resin. This ensures that you get a clean burn. In addition, you want to avoid any wood chips where the bark is still present. This is one of the many controversial topics in barbecue culture, but many barbecue experts believe that bark on wood will ruin the smoke it gives off.
Which foods does the pecan wood smoke flavor complement best?
While a relatively mild smoking wood, pecan wood is still strong enough to be used on flavorful meats including game and beef. In Texas, it is a popular wood for smoking the state’s main contribution to American barbecue: brisket.
Because its flavor is so subtle, you can use it to flavor poultry as well as pork and even fish.
How do you use pecan wood smoking chips?
Pecan wood chips do not burn as hot as other types of smoking woods. The relatively low temperature makes it ideal for maintaining a low temperature for slow barbecue. Therefore, it is ideal for larger cuts of meat like pork butts and the aforementioned beef brisket. In addition, its mildness makes it great for combining with other smoking woods. It is especially effective when used alongside woods that are known for having a strong flavor, like mesquite. A blend of pecan and mesquite wood chips cuts the heaviness of the mesquite flavor so that it does not overpower foods, which mesquite is apt to do. It also provides a more complex background flavor.