Not the exercise—this is actually fun and tasty!
Grilling season is upon us and it’s time to experiment with the all and mighty grill! Don’t worry, I don’t discriminate if you use propane or charcoal— everyone deserves delicious food!
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and noticed that near the seafood department or grilling area they often have planks of wood? These are not to start the fire… these are flavor infusers that you place food on during the grilling process. Prepared properly and paired with the right type of wood, you can unearth fantastical flavors that will deem you the grill master (at least during dinner while your family and friends feast).
Which plank do I use?
- Cedar provides a spicy and strong smoke
- For: salmon, steelhead, pork chops, poultry, mushrooms and tofu
- Alder brings a hint of sweetness (my favorite for salmon— trust me)
- For: halibut, white fish, shrimp, trout, scallops, clams, salmon and fruit
- Oak & Hickory add a distinct savory smoke
- For: beef, lamb, bacon, mushrooms, venison and elk
- Cherry adds a sweet and fruity smoke
- For: chicken, turkey and peaches
- Maple is ideal if you want to add a strong sweetness aspect
- For: pork, pizza, pineapple and your imagination!
Where do I get these?
Wood planks are often available near the seafood department of your grocery store or the grilling area, but unfortunately they often only carry one or two types of wood and can be on the pricey side. I personally utilize websites (outdoorgourmet.com) that offer variety packs of wood that let you experiment and are substantially less expensive!
Let’s prepare these planks!
You want to make sure that you let the planks soak for at least 1-2 hours in water to ensure that they don’t just burn when you put them on the grill. I personally add different types of whiskey to the soak to get even more flavor to the smoke. A little trick to soaking these planks is to use a deep cookie sheet pan and place a pot or anything heavy to keep the planks fully submerged (this way your sink is not out for the count for the next 2 hours).
Please have a fire extinguisher and a water spray bottle anytime you’re grilling. Even I have had situations where the fire can get out of control, and you need a plan to put it out or slow it down before your food is gone forever (possibly even your grill if you’re not careful).
It’s time to grill!
Preheat the grill to 375 and place the planks away from the heat. You do not want to put them directly over the flames or else your food will turn to tinder (not the app).
The perfect salmon recipe (it’s super simple too)!
Take a whole salmon filet and rub sesame oil on top of it (don’t go too crazy with the oil or it will cause flare ups, and do this before you place it on the plank).
Then add a heavy amount of dill weed to cover the entire portion followed by salt, pepper and a couple of lemon slices on top at the end.
Place it skin side down on the alder plank and give it 20 minutes max depending on the thickness of the fish. When this is done cooking —I promise you— you will not share this with anyone for anything!
To top it off—if for some reason you have some leftovers— you can eat it cold for the next couple of days for lunch! No more stinking up the microwave in the office with those fish smells!
Would you believe the earliest documented recipe for plank cooking appeared in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook in 1911? (http://www.greatlakesgrilling.com/History_of_Plank_Cooking.html)
What do you love to grill on a plank? Have any favorite recipes or techniques? Let us know in the comments below!