In a culture where we generally sacrifice quality for a speedy meal, plank grilling can be a great way to break the norm by creating a meal and enjoying the satisfaction of time and flavor put into it. Plank grilling is a process of cooking food on a plank of wood to bring out different flavoring. It also can be presented in fun, unique ways.
Planking can be done for foods such as beef, pork, poultry, seafood, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and pizza. The smokiness, oils and moisture are pulled out and absorbed by the food bringing out the various flavors depending on the type of wood used.
Choosing A Plank
As you explore plank grilling you’ll find many options to get the best flavor. Different types of wood will bring out better flavors for certain meats and foods, while the sizing of plank matters depending on the amount of food being cooked.
When grilling beef, pork and poultry, the best types of wood to use are cherry, hickory, maple, and oak. Hickory and oak bring out the stronger smoky flavors, while cherry and maple produce a sweeter taste. Seafood is most commonly used with alder and cedar woods to bring out a lightly sweetened flavor that won’t take away from the original flavor. Cedar is known to be the most popular plank type used in plank grilling. Fruits and vegetables are best paired with a cherry flavored plank to bring out the subtle sweetness. Maple can also be a great pairing for fruits and cheeses (Brie).
It’s important to use the proper sized plank thickness when preparing certain sizes of food. The size of plank will also determine the safest time to keep the food cooking to ensure a healthy meal.
When grilling larger meats such as prime ribs, entire pork roasts and whole fish, it is best to use a plank that is minimum of 1 inch thick. Due to the thickness, plan for one to two hours of cook time.
For chicken, steak, beef, salmon and other medium sized meats, a plank thickness of 3/4” cooking for 30 minutes to an hour is ideal. Side dishes such as fruits and vegetables can be done on a plank with a thickness of 1/4” to 1/2” and cooked for 20 to 30 minutes.
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Cooking And Clean-up
It’s important to soak the plank in water for no less than 30 minutes to ensure all fire hazards are taken care of. Cooking zones on the grill should include direct and indirect access to the heat source that is set at medium temperature.
For a charcoal grill this can be done by placing the charcoal on one side of the grill, while leaving the opposite side to be the indirect heating source. For a gas grill, simply turn two burners on and keep two turned off. When the grill is preheated to medium temperature the soaked plank and food can be placed on the indirect heat zone to be cooked.
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It is important to only reuse a plank for the same type of food due to the possibility of food being transferred to the plank. A plank can also be used multiple times (two to four). When cleaning after cooking, use warm water and a brush to scrub it down, instead of using soap. In order for the plank to dry, it is best to air dry and store in a container that is airtight to prevent molding.
Let’s Get Cooking
Now that you’ve got a basic knowledge of plank grilling, it’s time to test it out on your own. Head over to Fix and check out the recipes and directions on how to plank grill a variety of things such as cheeses, chicken, shrimp, fruit, and pizzas.