Grilling Guide

How to Grill with Wood Planks

Image: Deposit photos, fudio

Cooking meats on a wooden board is an old tradition. Some believe it originated with the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Others believe the practice originated in Scandinavia.

For the backyard chef, it matters little who was the first to cook meat on a wood plank. Plank cooking is easy, it can be used for meats, fish, vegetables, cheese and even fruit. It can be a nice change of pace as you experiment with this unique process, impressive presentation and enjoy the wood-infused flavor.

Grilling on a hardwood plank keeps your food away from the direct heat of the grill. The plank serves as a heat shield and helps flavor your food. The incredible smoky flavors of wood such as Western Red Cedar, Alder, Sugar Maple, Hickory, Mesquite and Oak from old wine barrels can be infused into your favorite foods as you grill or bake.

You can purchase planks at your local hardwood store.  As long as the wood is clean, untreated and one of the species mentioned above, it should be safe to cook on. Use thick planks because they are less likely to catch fire while cooking, and they are reusable for at least a couple of cooking sessions. Thick planks are also less likely to warp.

 

Plank Cooking Tips

  1. Soak the plank in water for at least 30 minutes before putting it on the grill. Make sure the plank is fully submerged by putting a heavy pot on top of it.
  1. Depending on what you’re grilling, try different types of untreated wood planks — cedar, oak, alder, hickory, maple, cherry and apple.
  1. If cooking fish with the skin on, spray or brush the skin with cooking oil before placing it on the plank.
  1. Place fresh herbs between the plank and your meat or fish. Cook vegetables on the same plank as your protein. Serve directly on the plank.
  1. Rotate and reposition planks as needed for even cooking. For some foods, like steak, you may want to flip the food on the plank halfway through cooking.
  1. Use a spray bottle of water to put out any flare-ups or flames on the plank if it starts to burn.
  1. It will take longer for your food to cook because it will not be directly above the heat. If using a gas grill, turn half of the burners on. If using a charcoal grill, place the charcoal on one side of the grill.
  1. Place the plank in water after grilling because a heated plank can contain glowing embers that could reignite.
  1. You can reuse a grilling plank two or three times. Rinse well with water, and then put the plank back into a hot grill for at least 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. It is recommended that a plank used to grill fish should only be reused to cook more fish.

Planked Salmon with Gremolata

Serves: 4

 

1 skin-on, center-cut salmon fillet, 1 1/2–2 pounds and 3/4–1-inch thick, pin bones removed

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

for gremolata sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon)

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

for spice rub:

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingertips

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Submerge the cedar plank in water and let soak for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. This step is important, as it prevents the wood from catching on fire. Use a medium bowl filled with water or a couple of cans of beer to weight the plank down.

For the sauce, whisk together the oil, orange zest, and orange juice in a small bowl. Stir in the cilantro, capers, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients and mix well.

Place the salmon on a work surface, skin side down. Coat the salmon flesh with the oil and season evenly with the rub.

Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (400°–450°F). Brush the cooking grates clean. Drain the cedar plank. Place it over direct heat and close the lid. When the plank begins to smoke and toast, after 3–10 minutes, use long-handled tongs to turn it over. Slide the salmon, skin side down, onto the toasted side of the plank.

Grill over direct medium-high heat, with the lid closed, until the salmon is cooked to your desired doneness, 15–30 minutes (depending on the thickness) for medium-rare (125°–130°F on an instant-read thermometer).

To serve, transfer the fillet from the plank to a heatproof surface. Cut crosswise into four portions and serve with the sauce.

Cedar-Grilled Flat Iron Steaks with Coffee Rub

Serves 6

 

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons finely ground Allegro Espresso Sierra or other dark coffee

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/2 pounds flat iron steak, each steak 1¼ pounds

1 very large or 2 medium cedar planks for grilling, soaked in water at least 3 hours

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling planks

Combine sugar, coffee, chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Cut steak to fit on cedar planks if necessary. Brush steak with 2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle all over with coffee rub and press to adhere. Set aside.

Prepare grill for high-heat cooking. When very hot, bank coals on one side of the grill, leaving one side free of coals. If using a gas grill, turn burner off on one side. Have a spray bottle filled with water handy. Heat cedar planks on cool side of grill for 3 minutes. Remove from grill, brush one side lightly with oil and set aside.

Grill steaks on hot side of grill until just seared, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to oiled side of planks and place planks near (but not over, if possible) hot zone on grill. Close grill cover and cook until steaks reach desired doneness, 8 to 12 minutes for medium-rare. Spray edges of planks with water if they catch on fire. Remove planks from grill. Rest steaks on planks for 10 minutes before slicing.

Slice against the grain and enjoy.

Tip: Prep steak with coffee rub the night before the tailgate and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight, then transport prepped meat in a cooler. Remove from cooler 20 minutes before grilling. When it’s time to serve, have your guests build the perfect steak sandwich offering them a variety of condiments such as steak sauce, arugula, Romaine lettuce and tomato.

Planked Lemon Pepper Shrimp

Serves: 8–10

 

2 pounds peeled, deveined, tail-on shrimp, (13–15 per pound)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons Meat Church Lemon Pepper

2 cedar planks, submerged in water for 30 minutes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cloves garlic, minced

 

Key West Dipping Sauce:

1 ½ cups orange marmalade (with the orange peel included)

¾ cup mayonnaise

½ cup stone ground or Creole mustard

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

3 tablespoons key lime juice

¼ teaspoon Meat Church Lemon Pepper

Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Set up for direct cooking (grilling directly over the flames).

Mix olive oil and 1½ tablespoons of the lemon pepper in a small mixing bowl. Add shrimp and toss until evenly coated with the mixture. Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of lemon pepper and toss again.

Remove cedar planks from the water and pat dry with a paper towel. Using tongs, transfer the planks to your grill and let them “cook” for 2 minutes. Flip and repeat. Remove from grill.

Line the shrimp up on the planks. Try to stand the shrimp up (a small slice down the back/semi-butterflied helps) as best you can. Carefully place the planks on the grill and cook for 6 minutes.

While your shrimp cooks, stir the butter and garlic together in small bowl. When the 6 minutes are up, baste the shrimp with the garlic butter. After another 6 minutes, remove the shrimp-filled planks from the grill and serve alongside the Key West Sauce.

Key West Sauce: Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate and serve cold. Sauce can be made up to four days in advance.

Planked Pork Chops – Apple, Sage & Cider Reduction

Serves: 1, scale to suit

 

1 double-bone pork chop (this works with any pork chop, but the double bone looks awesome)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 apple, cut into ¼-inch slices

2 bunches of sage

1 bottle of Angry Orchard Ginger Cider

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 wood plank (I used red oak but anything will work)

SUBMERGE plank in shallow pan of water for an hour. Prepare grill for direct and indirect medium heat.

STIR together salt, pepper, and paprika. Rub both sides of chop with mixture. Lay chop on plank. Top with 3 or so apple slices and sage leaves.

SET PLANK over direct heat. After 20 minutes, move to indirect side of the grill.

WHILE CHOP IS GRILLING, in a sauce pan, boil 12-ounces of cider over high heat until only 6 ounces remain. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and set aside.

BY THE TIME that reduction is done, the plank should be on the indirect part of the grill. Cook chop until it reaches 145°F. During the last 5 minutes, brush with cider reduction. Once done, remove from the grill and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.

PLATE with additional apple slices (grilled, if you prefer) and top with remaining cider reduction.

Tailgater Magazine