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Everything you need to know about Cedar Plank Grilling
History of Plank Grilling:
Plank grilling dates back many years to the coastal Native tribes of the Pacific Northwest. It is believed that the Indians would strap sides of salmon or other fish to large stakes or planks of cedar and stake them vertically into the ground around a large open fire pit of burning alder wood. The salmon would slowly roast in their own juices, creating flavorful meals for the Indians. Over time, the Native Americans began building smokehouses to enclose the smoke and flavor and allow them to store this smoked salmon for the winter months.
The Native Americans on the east coast roasted Shad, a once plentiful white fish on the northeastern coast. Later on, Shad would be roasted on oak planks in a very similar method.
Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook documented the first cedar plank recipe in 1896. She wrote a recipe for Planked Chicken and Duchess Potatoes. Since then, plank grilling has certainly evolved and become a popular method for cooking fish, chicken, pork, beef, and vegetables for modern day grillers.
Benefits of Wood Plank Grilling:
Plank grilling adds a delicious, smoky flavor to foods without adding extra sodium or calories. Essentially, the bottom of the plank chars over the heat of a grill, creating a light smoke that flavors fish, meats, or vegetables placed on the plank.
Salmon is the most common food cooked on a plank and certainly the most well-known. We have always thought of plank grilling as a foolproof way to cook fish. Because the fish never has to be flipped, you avoid the risk of it falling apart and since it cooks in its on juices, it also rarely dries out.
Where does the flavor come from?
NATURE, of course. The best flavor comes from the heart of the tree and Fire & Flavor sources its cedar from the Coastal Pacific Northwest of North America. There are three things to look for when buying planks…
Fire & Flavor’s darker hardwood plank (right) is made from the heart wood which produces more flavor than the lighter woods found on the market (left).
- Make sure the cedar is Western Red Cedar and not Eastern Cedar. Western Red is the best for cooking and does not impart bitter flavors in the food, unlike Eastern Cedar.
- Select the darker wood (like Fire & Flavor). The heart of the tree (where the darker wood is located) contains more naturally occurring flavor extractives.
- Make sure your planks are food-grade (which means don’t buy lumber from the hardware store that is sold for construction purposes). Fire & Flavor leads the industry with our HACCP verification. These strict standards ensure our planks are food safe.
Easy steps to Plank Grilling:
- Soak the plank in water for one or more hours. Planks can be soaked all day or overnight if desired, but it is not necessary. We use a pitcher of water or wine bottle to keep the planks submerged under water.
- Heat grill to medium heat, about 350-400°F. Planks can be cooked over a gas or charcoal grill. If using charcoal, we recommend building the fire on one side of the grill so you have the option of moving your plank to indirect heat if your grill does get too hot.
- Place plank on grill, close lid, and heat for 3 minutes. This allows the smoke to start to develop, adding maximum flavor to your foods.
- Place food on plank, close lid, and cook to your liking. Depending on the thickness of your fish, salmon usually takes 10-15 minutes to cook while shrimp or smaller items take 8-10 minutes.
In addition, it is important to keep a spray bottle or glass of water close by. In the event that your plank flares up, (no big deal if it does so don’t panic) you can spritz the flame and keep cooking. This basically means your grill may be too hot so either reduce the grill temperature or move the plank to the cooler side of your charcoal grill.
Plank Grilling Recipes to try:
- Cedar Planked Filet Recipe
- Pork Tenderloin Plank Grilling Recipe
- Caprese Style Cedar Planked Chicken Recipe
- Planked Salmon With Fruit Recipe
- Cedar Planked Salmon Recipe Using Spice Rub
- Cooking Vegetables With Cedar Plank Recipe