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How to Cook Meals with Grilling Planks

Grilling planks are easy to use and available in several different wood combinations.
Grilling planks are easy to use and available in several different wood combinations. (Grill Gourmet/)

Grilling planks are an excellent way to add another dimension to outdoor cooking. The indirect heat of plank grilling promotes even cooking, and virtually any kind of kind of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetable benefits from the natural wood flavors imparted by grilling planks. Western red cedar is the wood most often used, but maple, hickory, and alder are also common. If you stick to a few basic techniques, the process is simple and the results are delicious.

Soak Before Use

Soak your planks in water before placing them on the grill to prevent flare ups.
Soak your planks in water before placing them on the grill to prevent flare ups. (Grill Gourmet/)

Prior to grilling, soak planks in a wide, shallow baking dish of warm tap water for about 15 minutes (or up to an hour in cold water). This will keep the plank from scorching during cooking; however, keep an eye on the plank to make sure one area doesn't dry out and ignite. Use a spray bottle of water to suppress any unwanted flare ups. You can also infuse your soaking or spray water with fruit juices, salt, herbs, or white wine to intensify flavors.

Scorch the Plank

Scorch one side of a plank and then flip it before you place your food on it.
Scorch one side of a plank and then flip it before you place your food on it. (Wood Fire Grilling Co./)

Scorch one side of a plank before cooking. Then turn it over and lay your meal on the scorched side. This helps season the wood prior to cooking, minimizes warping, and imparts maximum flavor.

Use the Whole Plank

Serve your meal on the planks, or wash and reuse a piece of wood later.
Serve your meal on the planks, or wash and reuse a piece of wood later. (Wood Fire Grilling Co./)

If the meal does not take up the entire plank, take advantage of the unused space by adding sliced or wedged vegetables alongside the protein. For a rustic presentation, serve the meal right on the plank, which can be reused a second or third time with a scrub of hot, soapy water. Then thoroughly rinse and allow to completely dry.

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