If you can't afford a smoker grill or do not have room
for a gas grill, then you can still get great taste using
a regular charcoal grill and grilling planks. If you have
ever wondered how fine restaurants grill smoky salmon to
perfection, then the secret may be that the chef grilled
the salmon on grilling planks.
A grilling plank is a piece of hardwood, created specifically
for grilling meats on a wire rack. The wood adds the smoky
rich flavor of a smoker grill, while allowing one to cook
on a regular charcoal or gas grill.
You can make your own grilling planks quickly and easily,
using a regular handsaw and sandpaper. Cut a piece of untreated
hardwood lumber (it must be untreated) ½ to 1 inch
thick, 7 to 8 inches wide and 12 to 18 inches long. Sand
it to where it has a very fine finish with no splinters.
Wash the plank to remove the dust created by the sanding,
and you now have your very own grilling plank.
You can make a set of grilling planks to fit your grill,
and use them to grill salmon, seafood and other meats. You'll
be amazed when you taste the rich smoky flavor added by
using grilling planks on a regular charcoal grill.
When using your grilling planks, make sure that you cook
over burning embers only. An open flame could cause the
hardwood planks to catch fire. You should soak your grilling
planks for 30 minutes to 3 hours in water before use. This
not only helps prevent them from catching fire, but the
smoke caused by the steam creates a richer flavor. Close
your charcoal grill to retain the smoke, and cook your meats
as you normally wood on the wire rack.
You can use your planks several times before they become
unfit for cooking. If your grilling planks become charred
or cracked then you will need to throw them away and make
yourself a new set. If you do not use them over open flame,
they can be used many times. Higher heat does create a greater
flavor, but you do not want your grill so hot as to ruin
your meat or to damage the planks.
Clean your grilling planks with hot water and antibacterial
soap between each use to ensure that no bacteria remains
on the planks. Make sure that your grilling planks dry thoroughly
before putting them in storage.
The best types of hardwood to use for grilling planks are
western red cedar, alder, maple and hickory. You can experiment
with other types of hardwoods but you may find that most
other types will create a bitter taste for your foods.
Once your grilling planks have charred or cracked to the
point where they can not be used again, you can break them
into pieces and burn them in your charcoal grill if you
would like to add the rich smoky flavor to your grilled
fruits or vegetables. The grilling plank pieces are also
great to use for kebabs.