A trio of dishes based on cedar plank grilling
As readers of my blog will know, I spend a lot of time grilling on my ceramic cooker (Big Green Egg, or BGE). The BGE is extremely versatile and facilitates cold and hot smoking, grilling and high temp cooking of up to 700 degrees (pizza oven action). I also have a device called the BBQ guru that regulates the air inflow, thus affording a constant temperature. One of my favorite grilling methods on the BGE uses cedar planks.
We first experimented with cedar plank grilling using salmon, in particular a recipe from the William Sonoma cookbook. For this dish, I brine the salmon overnight in a mixture of water, salt and brown sugar. I then drain and dry the salmon and slice in strips that will fit on a cedar plank that has been soaked in water for a few hours. A glaze of maple syrup, bourbon and white pepper is brushed on the fish and smoked for about 15 minutes over low heat with apple or cherry smoking chips. The goal is to infuse flavor more than cook the fish.
Another favorite is to lightly smoke large bay scallops on the cedar plank. You can season the scallops with salt and pepper, but we prefer to use nutmeg, which I think complements the cedar flavor better.
The scallops can be served alone with a lime aioli and asparagus spears as an appetizer or chopped into quarters and mixed into a risotto.
I recently experimented with a recipe for chicken thighs on a cedar plank. I first marinated the bone-in chicken thighs in a mixture of EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, honey, salt and pepper. Then placed the thighs on the cedar planks over charcoal in the BGE at medium-high heat until the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.
I finished these off quickly on the grill to produce some lovely grill marks on the outside of the thighs. The chicken is an excellent addition to a fettuccini Alfredo or a Caesar salad.
Remember that it is important to soak the cedar planks in water for a few hours before cooking, no matter what type of protein you are cooking/smoking. The same applies to any smoking chips that may be added to the charcoal.