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Grilling With Wood Planks

Updated on December 29, 2016
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Whitney loves baking, grilling, smoking and cooking just about anything anyway.

Indirect Cooking

Grilling with a plank of wood isn't new. Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest are one of the first recorded instances of cooking on a piece of wood.

Basically, this type of cooking is indirect cooking because you are not cooking directly over an open flame. The plank is placed away from the flame so that it can smoke and infuse your food with more flavor.

Indirect cooking is most often used with fish and delicate cuts of meat. And, plank grilling is an easy way to grill for more flavor.

How to Grill With a Wood Plank

Grilling with a wood plank is just as easy as placing your food directly on your grill grates. But, if you've never grilled with a wood plank, following the below cooking tips.

  1. Prepare the wood plank by soaking it for 30 to 60 minutes. This will slow the burning process and ensure the food flavor infusion.
  2. Turn on your grill burners or light your charcoal. Once the grill is good and hot, place your wood plank directly above the heat and close the grill lid. (If you are using charcoal, you still want to wait until the charcoal is at least 3/4 white all the way through.)
  3. When the plank starts to smoke (about 10-15 minutes), flip it and move the wood plank to the other side of the grill, away from the hot charcoal or lit burners.
  4. Put your food on the plank, and close the grill lid. Closing the lid will maximize the smoke to ensure that your food is thoroughly infused with flavors.
  5. Grill your meat until it is done. Remove it from the grill. It's ready to serve.

Plank Grilling Tips

  • Add 1 tablespoon of salt or 1 cup of white wine, apple juice, citrus, or berry juice to the water while soaking the plank to accent wood aromas.
  • If you're grilling fish with the skin, add a little cooking oil to the side of the plank that you plan on putting the fish on. Also, grill the fish with the skin on the plank.
  • While grilling, use a spray bottle to put out any flare-ups.
  • You can reuse a wood plank about two or three times. After that, break up the plank into smaller chunks and mix the wood in with your charcoal. If you have a gas grill, put the chunks in an aluminum foil pocket to create smoke infusion.
  • To clean a wood plank after using it, soak it in warm water to loosen any food that may be stuck on it. After soaking it, you may need to lightly scrub it. Let it dry.

Types of Grilling Wood

There are different types of wood planks that you can grill with.

The most popular grilling wood is red cedar, which is traditionally used with salmon and other types of seafood. Alder is another popular wood to grill with. But, depending on what you're grilling, you'll find that different wood will complement different foods better.

Below, you'll find some of the top grilling woods and the meat(s) that they best complement.

Western Red Cedar
Western Red Cedar

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Grilled scallops
Grilled scallops

© 2014 Whitney


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