In the home grilling world, there have been three choices: charcoal briquettes, lump (or natural) charcoal, and propane. Each has its advantages and each has its drawbacks: briquettes burn best, but often contain chemical binders. Lump charcoal has no additives but it burns quickly, requiring a lot of tending, not to mention charcoal. Gas provides an even, controllable heat, but doesn’t flavor the meat well and many BBQers claim they can taste the gas in the food. Whichever of the three you use, you will need to add flavor chips—soaked chips of flavorful wood that add the hickory or mesquite taste to the food.
They say you can tell a serious barbeque joint by the wood stacked up outside. If they are using gas, BBQ enthusiasts recommend passing them by.
Barbequing with wood pellets provides the convenience of gas, the steady heat of briquettes, and the flavor of real wood smoke in a convenient and easy to use form. The food grade wood pellets are made with sawdust that is pressed into pellets without chemical binders or additives. They burn steadily and, because they are made of wood, provide the flavored smoke that BBQers want. The grills are easily temperature controlled letting you cook “hot” for standard grilling or “cold” for longer cooked foods or for smoking.
Hickory, mesquite, oak, and cherry pellets are available. This lets you choose the flavors you want—hickory for ribs, chicken or steak, mesquite for a Southwestern flavor, oak for a good strong smoke taste or cherry, for a more subtle smoke.