Friday, August 19, 2016

Cedar Planks 101

Cook's notes:
Plank grilling gives salmon the flavor imparted by a smoker with the convenience of a grill. It is a simple and elegant technique for cooking salmon.The fish steams gently in the heat of the grill, staying incredibly tender and moist. It also picks up smoky flavors from the grill and woodsy flavors from the cedar, along with whatever was used to soak the planks. You can find the planks at some grocery stores with well-stocked grill sections, cookware stores or your local hardware store. 
What You Need
A grill 
Several cedar planks

Plank Tips 101:
Be sure to prepare your wood properly to increase moisture for cooking and prevent burning. Take these steps to prepare your wooden grilling plank:
  • Rinse the plank with water to remove any dust.
  • Fill a sink or other large container with water.
  • Submerge the plank in the water, placing a weight on top of it. Soak the plank for 1 to 4 hours.
  • Enhance the plank's flavor by adding 1 tablespoon salt to the water. If desired, you may also stir in 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, wine, citrus or berry juice, or flavored liqueur to add more flavorI will admit when I read the wine part I quickly decided serving wine with dinner was a much better plan than soaking a plank in it! But just my opinion:)
Lemon and Dill Salmon
  • Salmon fillets, ideally with the skin on
  • Olive oil to coat
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Minced fresh dill or a sprinkle of dried dill and dried parsley flakes
  • water, wine, flavored liqueur or cider for soaking planks
  • Soak the Cedar Planks in water, wine or cider for about two to four hours. Weight planks down in water and turn once or twice. 
  • Heat the grill to about 350°F or a medium heat-setting.
  • Lightly grease the planks with vegetable oil. 
  • Lay the salmon skin-side down on top of the cedar planks. Brush salmon with melted butter and sprinkle with dried dill and parsley flakes. 
  • Squirt salmon with a little lemon juice and place 2 or 3 lemon slices on top.
  • Cook for 12 - 15 minutes: Start checking the salmon for doneness after about 12 minutes. Small fillets will cook more quickly than larger cuts. The salmon is done when it is uniformly pink in the center.
  • Transfer the salmon on the planks to a cutting board or baking sheet. Use a thin spatula to gently separate the skin from the salmon. The skin should stick to the boards and separate easily.
Additional Notes:
  • Cedar planks can be re-used until they become overly charred, cracked, or impossible to clean. Just scrub off the skin as you would any other dish and allow them to dry until their next use.
  • If desired, you can run the cooked salmon under the broiler for a few minutes to give the top a burnished color.
  • Though salmon is commonly cooked on a wood plank you can also use meat, other fish or vegetables. It’s a good idea to keep the lid closed as much as possible to stabilize temperatures and maximize smoke. It is recommended to sear meats and some vegetables prior to placing it on the plank to caramelize the outside and lock in the flavor.
  • When cooking on a plank, food does not have to be turned during grilling. Keep a spray bottle of water handy to tame any flames that start to burn the plank.
Hot and Tangy Pan Roasted Corn
Cook's notes:  Make this now while corn and tomatoes are at their peak.  Pan roasted corn is the perfect side for salmon. And was this corn ever fresh! I bought it from a farmer at roadside stand. The recipe serves 2 but quantities can easily be increased. 
Recipe from Minneapolis Star Tribune Taste Section August 18, 2016 
  • 5-6 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1/4  cup sweet onions, diced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  •  1-2 TB. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh basil
  • Use a sharp paring knife to strip the kernels from the corn. A trick that works is using a bundt pan. Place corn cub in center hole of bundt pan and then remove kernels. 
  • Use a fry pan and heat olive oil. Place corn and diced onions in pan and saute for about 4 minutes on a medium heat. Sear the corn shaking the pan occassionally and stirring until lightly browned.
  • Add in pepper flakes, lemon juice, chopped tomatoes and basil. Heat through 1 minute.  


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