When writing this particular regular featured article for Glutenfreeda.com I almost always find myself thinking, ‘what am I going to have for dinner tonight?’ After all I’m somewhat like most people with limited time to spare but still would like to enjoy a delicious meal after a long days work. One of my favorite quick and easy cooking methods that without fail results in an absolutely yummy dinner is to grill with a cedar plank. I was at the store today and found some beautiful wild sockeye salmon. Unlike my typical grocery shopping experiences, this time I hadn’t planned on what to buy but instead intended to buy what looked the very best in the case (instead of going with a recipe) so on the fly I decided to plank the salmon and just season with my fresh garden herbs and a little salt and pepper. The point is – no big, long ingredient list – just something simple. I meandered over to the produce department and found some beautiful fresh asparagus and some organic fingerling potatoes and added those to my cart. I knew with those ingredients and a plank, dinner was handled and would be scrumptious!
I try to keep a few wood planks at the house just for nights like these, but if you don’t happen to have them they are relatively easy to find. My grocery store carries them in the fish section, but you can also purchase them at kitchen stores. Before you start grilling you will need to prep the plank. First you will need to soak the plank for at least 30 minutes (if cooking over indirect heat) or for up to 8 hours for direct heat. I like to weight the boards with a can or jar so they stay submerged in the water. The length of the soaking time will depend on if you are cooking over indirect or direct heat and the thickness of your plank. By soaking the wood you enable the wood to infuse moisture into the food you are cooking and at the same time prevent it from flaring up during the grilling process. After the wood planks have soaked for an appropriate period of time, dry them off with a towel and brush one side of the plank(s) with vegetable or olive oil. This will prevent the food from sticking to the wood.
I prefer to cook with planks over indirect heat. Why? I find that the plank doesn’t have to soak as long and it avoids flare ups. Utilizing this method, however, you may find that it takes a little longer for the food to cook and the smoky flavor may not be as intense. If using a charcoal grill, position the coals to one side of the grill and place the plank on the opposite side. For a gas grill with 4 burners, I like to put the outside burners on and the inside burners off. Then lay the plank in the center. This way the heat comes up from the sides and evenly cooks the meat, poultry, fish or vegetables on top the plank.
Now that you know more about the planking process let’s talk about our menu and game plan for tonight’s dinner:
- Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary
- Cedar Planked Salmon with Fresh Herbs
- Cedar Planked Asparagus
- Soak the planks
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Clean & half the fingerling potatoes. Place in a baking dish along with 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir or toss to coat the potatoes and garlic with oil. Add 2 sprigs of rosemary to the top and set aside until oven has reached 425 degrees F.
- Place potatoes in preheated oven and set time for 20 minutes.
- Preheat grill.
- Remove planks from water and pat dry. Using a brush, brush 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil on the top side of each plank. Place the salmon fillet, skin side down on one plank. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with mixed fresh herbs.
- Oil the second plank and place the asparagus (trimmed) on the plank and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Put the plank with the salmon first on the grill over indirect heat. Cover the grill and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
- When the salmon is about a third way done, add the asparagus plank. The asparagus will need to cook for about 10 minutes to get to be crisp-tender.
- Remove the potatoes from the oven and serve with the cedar planked salmon and asparagus!
Easy & delicious! I hope you enjoy….I know I will!
- Chef Jessica