Grilling Planks and the Pleasures of Planking

Cooking on grilling planks, or planking, is becoming a favorite of outdoor cooks everywhere. This “planking” is a fool-proof process of cooking because the plank keeps the meat from drying out, as well as providing a sweet and smoky addition to the meat.

Normal grilled foods can dry out quickly when left on the grill, but a plank is soaked with water before grilling, and therefore moisture is constantly moving around the meat. The smoldering plank adds a subtle essence that compliments other flavors without taking over. Every kind of meat from beef to fish benefits from the flavors added by grilling planks.

Plank Wood Choices:

Today, planks for grilling are available in all grilling specialty stores. They come already packaged and sized to fit most grills. There are subtle differences in different wood types for plants, and oftentimes this flavor is masked by heavy grilling sauces and spices.

The two most popular types of woods for grilling planks are alder and cedar, but other woods produce their own delicious flavors.

– Alder produces a very delicate flavor that works best with milder foods. It is a good match for salmon and other fish and seafood.

– Cedar, which is the most aromatic wood of all, produces a deep but gentle flavor perfect for spicy, bolder meats like pork.

– Hickory planks give an intense smoky flavor that works well with chicken and beef.

– Oak gives a moderate flavor that blends well with various meats, including poultry and fish.

– Birch, poplar, pine, and other resinous wood give a bitter flavor to meats, so avoid using them.

Planking Tips:

  • Before grilling, soak planks in water to help keep the meat moist. Grilling planks that have been soaked produce maximum smoky flavor, and the plank is less likely to burn. Soak for at least one hour.
  • Use a soaked grilling plank right away since the wood will start to dry out fairly quickly.
  • Close the grill immediately after placing the plank and meat on the grill. Most of the smoke is generated at the beginning of the grilling process, so you want to capture and use as much of that smoke as possible.
  • Arrange the meat on the plank in a single layer, because meat touching the wood will get the most flavor from the wood.
  • Always use oven mitts to remove the plank after grilling. Place it on a heatproof platter or baking sheet. The edges of the grilling plank might be charred and smoldering for a short while after.

You will soon begin to love the results of using grilling planks and maybe turn this cooking method into your regular grilling routine.