There is an exciting new culinary world waiting for those prepared to barbecue beyond the comfort zone of the burger, sausage, steak and chicken piece. Baking and roasting, searing and grilling, steaming en papillote and now cooking on wood, known as plank cooking.
The key ingredients necessary to achieve such variety are simple: a lid for the barbecue, and effective cooking control – either via vents if it is a charcoal grill, or via adjustable burners if it is a gas. Buy a quality barbecue, such as those made by Napoleon® Grills and you have yourself nothing more complicated than an outdoor cooker. Whatever can be achieved indoors, can be created outdoors – and more – and with that additional great barbecue flavour.
The origin of cooking on wood is unclear, some say that it was brought to North America by Scandinavian settlers, others, including Napoleon® Grills’ chef Ted Reader believes that it originated in the Pacific Northwest and was used as a cooking method for fish by the Native Haida people. But the earliest documented recipe for plank cooking – chicken and duchess potatoes – appeared in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook in 1911 and was written by Fannie Farmer.
The choice of wood determines the special flavour associated with plank cooking, as the natural oils and moisture found in the wood infuses into the food. It is an easy way to cook on a barbecue; no turning, no messy clearing up, a hot, fast way to smoke food without the need for a smoker.
The technique is simple with just a few Plank Rules:
- Soak the plank for a minimum of 1 hour, better still overnight, keeping submerged with a weight.
- Preheat the grill, with the grill lid closed until at temperature, put the plank on the grill for three to five minutes until it begins to crackle and smoke, then place food on the plank.
- For added flavour, season the plank with sea salt, ground pepper or fresh herbs.
- Once used and food served, place the hot plank into a bucket of cold water to cool.
Cedar wood and Maple wood planks are available from Napoleon® Grills priced at £4.50 and £6.30 respectively.
Cedar Planked Salmon
From “Napoleon’s Everyday Gourmet Plank Grilling” by Ted Reader (Key Porter Books Ltd 2009) ISBN 978-1-55470-150-6 £34.99 Hardback
124 recipes each fully illustrated, includes hints and tips on planking
Copyright© 2009 Napoleon Appliance Corporation
Recipes Copyright© Ted Reader
- Cedar Wood plank, soaked in water
- 4 skinless salmon fillets (175g each)
- 2 tbsp of Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning (see below)
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 spring onion, finely chopped
- 2 whole lemons
- 40 g of chopped fresh dill
- 75 g of chopped shallots
- 2 tbsp of Seafood Plank Seasoning (see below)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- sea salt
Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning
- 60 g paprika
- 30 g chilli powder
- 3 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 2 tbsp mild Indian curry powder
- 2 tbsp dry English mustard (e.g Coleman’s)
- 1tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1tbsp dried basil
- 1tbsp dried thyme
- 1tbsp ground cumin
- 1tbsp cayenne
Seafood Plank Seasoning
- 100 g light brown sugar
- 50 g freshly ground black pepper
- 50 g ground sea salt
- 3 tbsp dried onion
- 2 tbsp mustard seeds, ground coarsely
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 tbsp dill seed
- 1 tbsp coriander seed
- 1 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- For each of the seasonings, mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to tightly sealed containers and store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Season salmon fillets with Bone Dust BBQ Seasoning; set aside. Mix together the garlic, spring onions, the juice of one lemon, dill, shallots, Seafood Plank Seasoning, olive oil and salt to taste. Spread the mixture evenly over the salmon fillets.
- Season plank with additional sea salt. Place plank on grill and close lid. Heat the plank for 3 to 5 minutes, until it starts to crackle and smoke.
- Open lid and place the salmon fillets on the plank. Close the lid and plank grill for 12 to 15 minutes, until salmon flakes slightly when pressed. Remove plank from grill and cool for 1 minute. Squeeze remaining lemon over salmon fillets before serving.