The process of cooking food on cut wood dates back to Native American cultures on both the East and West coasts of North America. This style of cooking results in tender, juicy, smokey meats. Fish and lean meats lend themselves well to plank cooking as the plank helps retain moisture during the cooking process.
Another benefit of plank cooking is that it keeps the grill clean. Nothing sticks and there are no more messy grates to scrub after dinner. Plank cooking can go from the grill to the picnic table, portioned out and served right from the wood. Be sure to extinguish any smoldering fires with a spray bottle and always place plank on a heat-resistant surface when serving.
There is no limit to what can be plank cooked, from vegetables to cheeses to nuts and desserts, smoke flavors enhance many foods. Cedar and alder planks are the most common planking woods but virtually any non-resinous, untreated wood will work. Plank cooking can be done in the oven or on the grill. Give this unique method a try, you won’t regret it!
1 fillet of salmon (3-6 servings)
1 teaspoon Fish Seasoning (or seasoning of choice)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 lemons, sliced
Olive oil for brushing
1 prepared cedar plank, soaked in water at least 30 minutes
Place sliced lemons on prepared plank. Place fish, skin-side down on lemon layer. Brush fish with a layer of olive oil. Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon over fish and sprinkle with Fish Seasoning. Grill or bake at 375º 25-35 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes in large chunks or reaches an internal temperature of 135º. (Cooking times can vary due to thickness of fish.)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
In a small bowl, mix until thoroughly combined. Recipe makes about 3 batches of rub. Store unused portions in sealable plastic bags.
STEP #1: Soak plank in water or suggested liquid, minimum 30 minutes, maximum 24 hours.
STEP #2: Preheat plank on grill at medium heat 5 minutes, or in a 350º oven 10 minutes.
STEP #3: Brush a light coating of olive oil onto cooking side of board.
PLANK COOKING OPTIONS:
GRILL (DIRECT HEAT): Use the lowest setting on a gas grill or low charcoal heat. Place plank with food directly over the heat source. Cook with the lid closed so smoke surrounds food and infuses flavor. Plank should reach heavy smoke in 15-20 minutes. When plank begins to smoke, check often -- use spray bottle filled with water to extinguish any flame on the plank. This method promotes a heavy smoke flavor.
GRILL (INDIRECT HEAT): Use a medium setting on a gas grill. If using charcoal, pile coals to one side. Place plank opposite the heat source. Cook with lid closed so smoke surrounds food and infuses flavor. Plank should begin to smoke after 15-20 minutes. The plank should not catch fire using this method. Cooking time increases due to the lower temperature. This method promotes a light smoke flavor.
OVEN: Preheat oven and board to 350º or as stated in recipe. Place plank with food, directly on oven rack. Position a foil lined baking sheet on the rack below the plank to catch any drippings. This method infuses a light smoke essence into food. Planks can be washed and reused.
Planks can be placed close together in the oven but if grilling, make sure there is at least 1-inch between planks for air movement.
When cooking, never leave planks unattended. Avoid repeatedly opening grill cover as this can cause flare-ups and lost heat. When opening grill, take caution not to inhale or stand in direct smoke.
Article and photos by Tiffany Haugen. For a copy of Tiffany’s book, Grill It! Plank It! Wrap It! Smoke It!, go to www.tiffanyhaugen.com.