In the culinary world, there are a few tried and true methods to preparing food. Maybe one of the lesser-known methods is wood planking a protein. Maybe because of the worldwide web, social media, or the spike of cooking at home, wood plank cooking is super popular right now. Even though it has gained popularity over the last several years, wood plank cooking has been around for a long time. The first recorded wood plank recipe was in 1911. The most common recipes today involve wood planking fish, veggies, potatoes, and even steak. It seems like everyone is using wood planks these days whether you are using a gas grill, charcoal grill, a smoker, a Weber, or even your own oven in your kitchen.
How to use grilling planks?
Don’t be afraid to try new things in the kitchen. (#keepexperiementing) Grilling planks are not as difficult as you may think. In reality, there are five easy steps to follow that will hopefully produce quality meals that you will enjoy.
- Pick the wood flavor that will best complement what you are cooking. Check out our Best Woods for Smoking article if you need help pairing a protein with a wood flavor. - Click here to see all Lane's Grilling Planks
- Soak your wood plank. Some folks say for 60 minutes while others say only 15 minutes. We have found here at Lane’s that the 30-45min soak does a really great job. Make sure to keep the plank submerged. (pro tip: You can soak your plank in water, but you can also use juice, vinegar, or even wine.)
- Season your protein or veggies on the plank. Be sure that whatever you are cooking covers the entire plank.
- Cook/Grill. Be sure to never leave what you are cooking unattended. Refer to your temp guide for proteins and other ingredients.
- Serve and Enjoy! You can serve directly from the plank to impress your guests but make sure you are aware of the char on the underside of the plank. It can ruin a tablecloth.
Heat Source Awareness
If you are using a wood plank on a ceramic or charcoal grill, like a Weber, you will want to set them up for indirect heat. A Kamado Joe or egg-style cooker has indirect heat plates that you can use. It is a wood plank and putting it over a live fire can cause combustion. Yes, soaking the plank will help however, wood and fire usually have one result, but that is not our desired outcome. We want to use the wood to infuse flavor and keep whatever you are cooking moist. The fact is the natural juices of the protein or whatever seasonings you used can cause a flare-up. As we have already discussed, never leave a gas grill, ceramic grill, smoker, or oven unattended while cooking. If the idea of putting a wood plank on a grill seems risky, then use your oven in your kitchen. We would recommend using a cookie sheet or pan to catch all the juices.
Can you reuse grilling planks?
The simple answer, Yes. But it requires some prep/work on your part. The initial soak is important to determine if you can reuse your plank. The longer they soak the more moisture has to cook out of the plank. Second, how much char does the plank have after the cook? The amount of char all depends on how long you soaked the plank, how long you cooked it at what temp and was it over indirect or direct heat? If the plank is charred, after a rinse and a quick scrap/scrub still is black you might want to discard the plank and start with a fresh plank. Another indicator might be if the plank warped during the cooking process. If it did then you didn’t soak it long enough in the initial soak. We would also suggest discarding a plank that is warped. At most, we have found that after two or three cooks you need a new plank for the best results in your cooking. After two cooks you start losing the smokey infused wood flavor and you begin to get that burnt campfire taste. We haven’t acquired that campfire taste yet in any of our meals.
Are planks any good?
Well, here at Lane’s, we feel like they are helpful tools that can improve your culinary experience. Used the correct way in the cooking process you can taste the infused wood flavor in your protein and veggies. The proof is in the meal. The idea behind the plank is to help keep things moist and infuse flavor. Grilling planks might have gained popularity in the last several years however, the process/method of wood plank cooking has been around for a long time. Time, in our opinion, is a great indicator of whether something really works or not. Plus, add in our own experiences, we really like the results we get when using our grill planks.