How to Cook Using Wooden Planks
Wooden planks, which are most commonly made of untreated cedar, but can also be made of untreated hickory, maple and other woods, are a great way to grill paleo foods including fish, meats and vegetables and obtain a delicious smoky flavor.
A plank used for cooking should be untreated and free of any chemicals. To grill using a plank, first prepare the plank by soaking it in a bucket or other container of water. You can soak your plank anywhere from 2 to 6 hours, but to ensure maximum moisture is absorbed, you can soak a new plank overnight. Enough weight needs to be placed on a plank to ensure it is completely submerged in the soaking water. For example, if you place a plank in the sink to soak, place a heavy roasting pan on top. If the plank is too dry when you begin cooking, you run the risk of burning it on the grill. You can also add the juice of an apple or citrus fruit to the soaking water, which will help accent the aroma of the wood once cooking begins.
Before you use your plank for the first time, season it, by placing it on a grill that has been preheated on a high temperature for about two minutes on each side. This will help prevent your plank from becoming warped, and will further bring out the smoky flavor of your food. For added flavor, you can also rub your plank with olive oil and herbs prior to placing it on the grill for the first time. You should also have a spray bottle of water on hand, when cooking with wood planks, in case of flames.
After preparing your plank for cooking, you can place your food directly on the plank, and close the lid of the grill. If cooking a fish with skin, such as salmon, place the skin side down. You can add a bed of orange slices, or other fruits and vegetables under the food you are cooking, to make sure it retains its moisture while cooking. During the cooking process, food will not need to be turned over, and the grill lid should stay closed as much as possible to aid in the smoking of the food, but do check your food as quickly as possible, every five minutes, to ensure there are no flames. If there is a flare-up, spray enough water on the plank to extinguish the flames, but don’t spray so much water that the planks stop smoldering, because the smoldering helps give the food the smoky flavor.
To clean your plank after grilling, place it into a container of water and then rinse with soap and water. Grilling planks can be used about two to three times before they need to be replaced.