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Cedar Planks and Gas Grills – A Dynamic Duo!

Posted on: July 5th, 2012

Gas grills are fast and easy, but don’t offer the flavor of charcoal – but toss in a cedar plank and teach that old gas grill some tasty new tricks!  A cedar plank adds just the right amount of smokiness to your dish as it protects delicate meats, fish and vegetables from falling apart, sticking to the grill or premature burning – they’re brilliant, and everyone should know how to use them!

Cedar planked salmon and vegetables, the ultimate way to cook summer’s finest!

Start with a cedar plank from Tony’s, NOT a cedar roof shingle or cedar from a lumberyard (they’re treated with chemicals). Earlier in the day, soak it in a clean sink or in a roasting pan – just add water and weigh the planks down with a pot of water, a rock, a can of tomatoes, or a watermelon; anything heavy enough to keep it underwater. It is best to soak them for 2-8 hours, especially if you are doing something that needs long cooking, like a whole chicken or a rack of ribs, but if time is short, 30 minutes will do for quick cooking foods, you’ll just need to mist the edges with water from time to time.

Tony’s Large Deluxe Cedar Plank Sampler

Tony’s Cedar Plank Meat and Cheese Samplers

We’re making Meat and Cheese sampler platters on both large and small cedar planks; they’re great for smaller groups on a picnic, in the office or with a glass of wine before supper. After you enjoy the meat and cheese, use the board to experiment with cedar plank grilling! Six sampler planks to choose from, available in our markets, or call and order ahead.

Plank Grilling Tips

Preheat a medium high grill, place your prepared foods on the plank, place the plank on the cooking grid over direct heat and close the lid. The bottom and edges of the plank will smolder and burn, adding wonderful flavor to your foods as they cook slowly with indirect heat like in a smoker. This slower cooking virtually eliminates the burn spots that gas grills are famous for, and gives you more time to judge doneness, which helps avoid accidental overcooking. The process is a lot like smoking, but with far less time and effort, and there’s no expensive smoker to buy!

Ready to cook, I used the center slices of lemon over the salmon and tossed the end slices with the vegetables, they add great flavor when squeezed, or cut them up and eat with the meat and veggies.
Planked salmon and balsamic vegetables ready for the grill – recipe link below.

Don’t Fear Flare-ups!

As the plank burns, the edges will usually flare up, don’t be alarmed, just check your meats regularly and mist the edges of the board with water from a spray bottle. These boards are the ultimate with fish and shellfish, protecting delicate fillets from falling apart or sticking to the grill. It’s also great with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, crabs and so on.  But don’t stop there, it’s also great with chicken, chops, ribs, steaks and even vegetables, fruits and soft cheeses! Planks are also amazing with sweet seasonings or glazes, allowing them to glaze nicely without burning.

It’s normal for the edges of the plank to burn, just douse the flames every few minutes with a spray bottle, this is particularly helpful if you only soak the planks for a short time.

Salmon

Salmon is a natural on cedar planks.  Keep your salmon cold, marinate or season and place skin side down on the board. I prefer tail pieces, so I put the tail in the center of the board and the thick part near the end. I usually will cook one large fillet, but individual servings are fine too, just keep them about 1 inch apart and from the edge of the plank. Cooking times depend on a number of variables – I plank fish over about medium high heat and they are usually done in 20 minutes or so.

Planked Salmon and Balsamic Vegetables (pictured above and below)
Cedar Planked Glazed Salmon
Planked Salmon with Sweet Balsamic Glaze
Alaska Glazed Fish

Ready to serve – place a spatula between the salmon and the skin, leaving the skin behind.  You can also serve right on the plank if you are eating outdoors.

Fish and Shellfish

Planking is highly recommend for delicate fishes such as Trout, Arctic Char, Steelhead, Halibut, Striped Bass and Sablefish; basically any fish you are worried might fall apart when they are done. Season or marinate and place large fillets on the plank, skin side down, or separate smaller fillets by about an inch for even cooking. Separate shrimp, scallops, clams or mussels by 1/4-1/2 inch.

Planked Hawaiian Fish and Mango Salsa
Planked Halibut w/ Avocado Sauce
Cedar Plank Trout

Tony’s Sugarcane Skewered Shrimp on a small plank (leftover from one of our mini cheese boards), slathered with our Maple Bourbon Rub.

 

Halibut and other delicate fishes are a great choice, as are quick cooking vegetables like asparagus and cherry tomatoes.  Picture from Outdoor Gourmet, our plank supplier.

Steaks

Steaks come out great on a cedar plank. Season in advance and rest at cool room temperature for 1-2 hours. Position the steaks evenly on the plank with about 1-inch spacing and 1 inch from the edges. Preheat a dual temperature fire (hot on one side and low on the other side), start cooking over the hottest portion of the grill and when they start smoking nicely, move to the lower temperature part of the grill. Cook about halfway and flip steaks over – remove from grill at desired temperature, I suggest between 120-130° internal.  Rest 5-10 minutes and serve. Don’t forget game steaks such as bison, elk and venison – amazing!

Filet Mignon w/ Blue Cheese Crumble
Plank Roasted Rack of Lamb

Chicken is a natural on a cedar plank, giving it a nice smoky flavor without premature burning.  Picture from Outdoor Gourmet, our plank supplier.

Chicken and Poultry

Chicken breasts are my favorite cut for planking! Choose boneless or bone in breasts, marinate or season, arrange 1-inch apart on a soaked plank and grill over direct medium-high heat to about 145-150° internal. If you would like grill marks, start the plank on one side of the preheated grill, mist the other side with oil and quickly mark the breasts for 1-2 minutes on the hot grid, and then put the chicken on the plank.For whole chickens start with a dual temperature fire (hot on one side, low on the other). I prefer to split or quarter the chickens, marinate, place on the cedar plank and start on the hot side of the grill (whole birds work great too, just need a little more patience). Once the plank is smoking, move to the low-temperature side of the grill – and when they are about halfway done, turn the pieces over for even cooking. The ideal air temperature inside the grill is 250-300 degrees. Test to be sure the legs and thighs cook to at least 165°, rest covered for 10 minutes and serve. Also amazing with whole or cut game birds!

Cedar Roasted Cornish Game Hens
Simple Planked Chicken Breasts
Planked Chicken w/ Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Baby back ribs turn out tender and smoky, be sure to soak the plank well!

Pork and Ribs

Chops, pork prime rib, marinated whole or medallions of tenderloin are also fabulous choices – cook as you would chicken. Pistachio Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Peach SalsaCountry style, Baby Back or St Louis Style ribs all work nicely on the cedar plank, as do beef back ribs and thin flanken ribs (cross cut beef short ribs). I start by soaking the planks as long as possible and either marinating the ribs (always marinate flanked ribs) or coat well in one of our BBQ rubs. Prepare the dual temperature fire and cook as I have described steaks or split chickens above; start over the hot side and when the plank gets smoking move to the low side, maintain an air temperature from 250-300 degrees and turn about half way through cooking. Don’t forget the BBQ sauce!

Vegetables

Toss quick-cooking vegetables like asparagus, peppers, squash, tomatoes and onions in a combination of olive oil and seasonings and add to a plank, I like to add them to salmon, fish and chicken breasts because the cooking times are about the same.

Grilled Asparagus

Peaches and herbs, or add a pat of butter and brown sugar to the middle

Fruit

Planked peaches or other soft fruits work great!  I’ll scatter peach or nectarine halves with herbs like thyme and add a pat of butter and even some brown sugar to the middle and top – makes a great side dish or dessert. Grapes on a skewer or cantaloupe or pineapple pieces and fig or plum halves wrapped in prosciutto work beautifully and make a great side to meats – and don’t forget stuffed apples!

Cheese

Try a small wheel of brie, chill it well first and plank, great with fruit preserves or chunks of fresh fruit for dipping with crackers (I especially like the sweet Wheat Crackers from Carr’s). Brie is also great rolled in nuts and brown sugar and topped with dried cranberries before planking.

Use your imagination, so many things taste great with a touch of smoke, even great for reheating leftovers or a frozen burrito instead of the microwave!

Other Uses

Use your imagination!  How about mini pizzas, calzones, kabobs, burritos, quesadillas, hand pies, shepherd’s pie, stuffed mushrooms, buffalo wings, chicken cordon bleu, duckling breasts or legs, turkey breast or legs, pheasant, quail. For dessert, how about mini fruit or pumpkin pies, rustic fruit tarts or crisps, sliced pears with berries, marshmallows or even s’mores!

Toasted marshmallows or S’mores without burning!

 

American Cedar

We proudly stock planks from OutdoorGourmet.com, using only American cedar, local labor and packaging. Produced without ever being exposed to chemicals (not even from the saw or milling process) for a completely safe experience – I strongly recommend staying away from imported planks!

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