How many of you have these stupid crazy nutcase passions for things? Raise your hands, excellent. How many of you kinda loose rational thought when even remotely near them? Raise your hands, excellent. Apart from the obivious, I have a few of those quirks myself. One of which being real wood charcoal.
Wanna come see what I did this time?
A few weeks ago Chilebrown sent me a url to some place up in Northern California by the name of Custom Charcoal. I’ve always wanted a pallet load of cooking wood or charcoal, looked in to it a few times. I mean, damned man. You wouldn’t have to buy charcoal for mumfs! It’d always be there for you, day or night. Even when you’ve burned through a hundred pounds, there’s more to go.
What struck me right off was the selection of wood. They have Oak, Maple and Apple lump charcoal. While you can surely find smoking chips most anywhere of these woods, they come in tiny packages and go away very quickly. This is real wood charcoal in 20 pound boxes, just what the good doctor ordered. The thought of grilling pork over apple wood makes the hair on my legs stand up, FOING.
Ahem, yes well anyway. The time was right, I emailed David and asked for a quote on 320 pounds of his finest. I spent the morning wrapped tighter than last week’s newspapers. I had visions of succulent pork roasts wrapped with bacon, whole golden red smoky chickens perched high and winy beef roasts with herbs all crazy juicy. This deal was going to have to happen soon because I was going to come unglued at the seams at any moment.
Hey, did anyone know that when you have something shipped that’s really heavy by motor freight it isn’t exactly inexpensive? Considering it’s part of what I do (just a little mind you, not a lot) you’d think I’d put 2 and 2 together. The cost of shipping was more than the product. Boy, this sucks. Anyone got a nice solution?
Good ol’ CB did. His brother lives near and he was on his way up for a visit. He was also taking Black Bart (a full sized 3/4 ton black Dodge 4 by sportin a nice shell). Problem solved!
Time to leave came and went, our charcoal would have to wait. It turns out Custom Charcoal isn’t a huge wood charcoal corporation and didn’t have enough wood on hand to fill our order. Tee hee. I WIN !!! I have to say, while we did end up having to wait a week, it was pretty cool to order a product from someone who had to run out back and start up some contraption to get the job done. And that’s just what he had to do, thank you sir!
Don’t that look pretty? Well, okay it’s just a stack of boxes, but what’s in them is pretty.
I got a box of Black Oak lump charcoal and opened that first. I was hoping for larger pieces, but one really needs to run some food through to see what the scoop is. I needs to test it, white lab coats and all.
I use a handful of different kinds and sizes of cooking woods. I usually use mesquite charcoal as my base heat producing material, it’s in the far upper left hand side. Click on the image and you can barely see it’s a little larger than most. I like it that way because I can either start it like that and it’ll last longer and not produce as much searing heat as the smaller stuff does. It’s got less sides to emit heat, that’s why it’s that way. Or, if I require smaller chunks of mesquite, I use my hammer that I keep close by, WHAP. Don’t break it up in your smoker or grill though. After a few years, those beasts can get weakened steel by all the heat and you can snap and or damage them. How do I know? I gots carnal knowledge baby.
I’m also a huge fan of the larger raw chunks of cooking wood, it’s the one directly below the large hunks of mesquite, for long term heat and awesome smoky flavors. See, I use this in the grill when I’ll do up some indirect food for hours. Or the same procedure for the smoker. This way you don’t need to continually add those tedious little chips. Everyone says you absolutely must soak them. Crab nuts on that. I don’t think that far in advance, do what you can. Directly below the raw chunks are hickory chips and I would think everyone is familiar with those. While they can be tedious, they are amazingly effective. They pretty much go in to every fire at any time. Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle. For the smoker I’ll make a volcano at the edge of the mesquite fire and just let it slowly burn in to the hill of chips. As you can see, you really should have all kinds of woods on hand at all time, it’s necessary.
With all that in mind, a few looks through the black oak lump told me this would be great for direct grilling with plenty of heat. But I wasn’t sure how much flavor it would impart when used indirectly in a smoker. I’ve run 2 meals out of the grill with this wood, one direct and one indirect. I’ll get to the smoker this coming Friday and get back to you on this post with a notation. The direct grilling session was fabulous, damned if those little pieces of wood don’t put out some serious-ass heat. Perfect for putting a severe sear on anything, even watery vegetables. What surprised me though was the fact a stove full of Custom Charcoal’s coals, lasted between 3 and 4 hours of indirect grilling. I would note though, you may want to use a little less than I did or let the fire burn down. The fire was a little spicy and I had to cover the pork with bacon to continue on. Sure I should have pulled the meat, but I was on a fast track buddy and needed it at a certain time. Thank goodness for bacon.
To sum it all up, I like Custom Charcoal’s product just fine. I was hoping for larger pieces, but you get what you get when you’re dealing with a natural product. The cost of the charcoal is a little on the high side. But you’re paying for someone to watch each and every piece to make sure you get a quality product. Plus you’re not getting 20% + wood dust at the bottom of each box.
Thank you Custom Charcoal for a fine product.