I thought that I had heard about every way possible when it comes to cooking. Then up pops the method called “planking”. This method is used quite a bit down under in Australia. Planking is a very simple method for cooking. You soak a board (s) of cedar, cherry, and other aromatic boards in water. Make sure the boards are clean of toxic oils and non-resinous material. The wood absorbs the water. After they are soaked good, you place the boards over hot coals, not a flame on your grill rack. Make sure the coals can get some air. You then cook your food on top of the boards. This is called planking.
The boards that you use, should be soaked at least 6 hours. The more moisture you can get into the boards, the better the cooking process.
Using google search, I found a web site northwoodssmokeofmn.com . They give a very good explanation of how planking works. They claim that planking actually started in the Pacific Northwest by the native Americans thousands of years ago. They would split a salmon, and tie it to a piece of driftwood. They would then place it downwind over an open fire.
Planking is described as a sensuous way for cooking food on an open or closed pit or grill. Planking is recommended for outdoor use because of the amount of smoke that the process generates. However, it can also be done in a conventional oven just as well.
Although the food does have a smoked type of process to it, it actually is steamed as well. In a closed grill, it is cooked three ways. First from the steam that the wet boards give off. The smoke that is produced, slowly cooks the meat. Lastly the enclosed over all temperature of the oven itself. The main idea when planking is to cook longer at a lower temperature. Always have a spray bottle of water handy just in case the edges of the planks catch on fire. It is the edges that usually will catch on fire first because of low wood density.
Just set your soaked planks on the grill. When you smell the smoke and start hearing th cracking of the wood, then place your food on it.
Another exotic way to plank is by “wrapping”. In this process, you use vines twigs, and leaves for the planking process. You can even soak them in different things for flavor. You can use wine, beer, cider, and whiskey. Some of the greenery to use would be grape vines, rosemary branches, cinnamon sticks, or licorice sticks (wood). For leaves, use grape, maple or banana. Simply wrap your food in the selected leaf, bind it up well and cook it until it is done. Keep in mind though, that leaves will burn quicker than wood. Many individuals, when they use leaves, will cook something that doesn’t take long to cook. This helps to prevent the burning process.
You can even skewer meats and veggies with a soaked sharpened grape vine. Just be sure to skewer slowly at a low heat.
Some individuals will plank cook their meat and then use paper thin wood to wrap the meat in to finish it off and add extra flavor. If you use lamb, beef, or pork, this helps because when you are cooking these three, you always have to turn them over on the grill or planks. Planking works best with fish and poultry because they absorb moisture better.
If you are new to planking, it is best to practice first. Try something simple like salmon fillets. they take between 15 and 25 minutes depending on the meat size and heat of the grill. Be creative when you start out try things like a cherry wrapped scallops, or maple planked halibut.
When you are finished cooking, remove the wood to a large bucket of water. If you purchase the wood flavors you are going to find them to be expensive. Although they don’t recommend you using the same boards, many times they can still be used. some individuals will cut up the boards and use them for smoking in their smokers.
You can order different types of planks from the web site of Northwoods of Minnesota listed above.
sources; Northwoods Smoke of Minnesota