Planking is a great, easy way to grill; and is particularly suited to delicate foods like fish. The wood plank protects the flesh from the intensity of the flames or burners while imbuing it with delicious smokey flavors. However longer cooking meats like chicken will always pick up more smokiness since they’re exposed to the smoke for much longer.
And planking isn’t only for those cooking with charcoal, this technique works perfectly on gas grill as well!
Preparing the Plank:
You can use a variety of timber for planking, cedar isn’t the only option. Apple, alder, hickory –just be sure the wood isn’t treated!
Before grilling, the wood needs to be soaked it in a tub of water for at least an hour (to reduce the chance of it catching on fire). For another layer of flavor try adding a cup of juice or a splash of bourbon to the soaking water.
After soaking, put the plank on a preheated medium grill for a couple minutes on each side. You want the plank to be smoking and cracking before you put your food on it –this will make sure you get the maximum smokey flavor.
Now you’re ready to cook! Brush some oil on the hot plank, and put your food directly on it. No turning needed. Be sure to keep the lid closed as much as possible since a lot of the flavor from planking comes from the smoke.
A few other notes:
Be sure to keep a spray bottle on hand while cooking on a plank. The wood can catch fire, you need to be able to quickly extinguish any flare-ups.
Even though salmon is the traditional planking food, don’t limit yourself. Pretty much any fish is delicious cooked in this way. Also chicken, pork loins, vegetables. Really, anything you’d cook over an indirect heat. Marinate and season as you’d like, then cook it on the plank.
Cedar planks can be reused a number of times, as long as there is wood left. Depending on the length of cooking, I would expect around three uses. Don’t forget to soak it before each use.
Be sure to remove the plank as soon as you’re done cooking, otherwise the wood will just burn up. And if you’re using a gas grill, it will make a big mess in your burners.
Our Recipe: Spicy Honey Salmon on a Plank
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika (Preferably hungarian paprika. Try smoked paprika for an even bigger punch. Or even smoked spicy paprika.)
1 garlic clove, minced
Freshly ground black pepper (about a teaspoon)
6 salmon filets, skinless and boneless
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cedar planks
Prepare the planks as above.
Preheat the grill, medium heat.
Put the juice, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, oil, and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over med-high heat. Reduce to med-low and stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients, cooking until it has reduced to and coats a spoon. About 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Sprinkle the salmon filets with salt and pepper
Your cedar planks should be finished soaking and be ready to put on the preheated grill. Leave them for a couple of minutes over the burners, until they start to smoke, then brush them with oil and pop the salmon filets on top. Close the lid, cook for 5 minutes, then spread a little of the sauce over the salmon. Put the lid back on and cook another 5 minutes. Apply another layer of glaze to the fish. Cook another 5 minutes or until the fish is opaque throughout.
Serve with the rest of the sauce, and enjoy.