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"Nature's Choice" Grilling Plank and Oven Roasting Plank Use Guide

Aromatic Cooking Planks are incredibly versatile.  Nearly any food you enjoy on your grill or in the standard oven can be flavor enhanced by using this cooking method.  One this web page you will find many helpful tips on using this kind of cooking tool.  Please feel free to print out this information for your future reference.

Suggested tips for using Aromatic Grilling Planks designed for single uses on your covered gas or charcoal grill.

Should I use more than one plank to prepare a meal on the grill?

 If your menu includes several different foods and you do not want the flavors of each food to mingle with each other then YES use more than one plank.   Creekside now offers single serving cedar grilling planks designed for small portions or veggie sides.  You no longer have to waste a full size more expensive plank for that purpose.  EXAMPLE:Whole chickens come out great prepared on cooking planks on your grill.  Many folks like to lay a bed of fresh herbs down on the hot-oiled plank before adding the chicken or other meats or veggies.  When cooking larger meats you may need a 3/4" or thicker cooking plank to complete the cooking step without completely smoldering away the plank beneath your food.  Cooking a side of fresh or frozen veggies in addition to the main course will take a shorter cooking time and won't require a plank of that thickness.  3/8" to 5/8" would be sufficient.  Plus the veggies will not mix with the main meal juices prepared on a separate plank.

Some Planks are more aromatic just out of the package than others.  Does it matter?

What matters is the aromatic smoke that a prepared plank produces when the fire is put to it.  White Cedar is not an aromatic species only Red Cedar will provide the flavor you are looking for.  With Red Cedar some trees are not as aromatic as another.  However when heat is applied they do their work with honors.  Woods like Alder have very little odor until they begin to smolder.  Even then the aroma is light as with some of the other species of woods.

Does the grilling plank need to be perfectly smooth?

No.  You will find some companies finely sand all surfaces of their planks before packaging.  In all the research I have done (a very tasty task I must say) with the "Nature's Choice" brand and many of the others I have ordered and used I have found that the fire side especially can be rough sawn.  Because of the rough texture it seems to produce more smoke in the initial stages of cooking.  Just the right time to infuse your foods with flavor.  The cooking surface doesn't need to be perfectly smooth either.  No loose silvers of course but a somewhat rough texture will help hold your foods juices a bit longer before they run into the fire pit.

What is the first step?

Each grilling plank should be soaked in liquid before placing it on the grill.  Softwoods such as Cedar should be soaked from 2 to 6 hours before use.  Hardwoods like Hickory, Maple, Alder or White Oak need more time.  6 to 24 hours will do just fine.  

Just a quick tip--for a fast start up soak a few extra planks and then wrap the ones not to be used in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for later use.  They will defrost on your grill in seconds.

What should the plank be soaking in?

Water is the most common choice.  However you can experiment with fruit juices, beer and wine.  Each will help deliver a different taste to your foods and only you can decide which you enjoy with what kinds of food.

What does soaking add to the cooking process?

Absorbing liquid into the raw wood helps keep the plank from burning.  You are after a smoldering plank for the smoke flavoring not a bonfire.  Even with a properly soaked plank you will need a sprayer of water near by to put out the flames that occur while the food is cooking.

Please do not leave your grill unattended to avoid dangerous flareups!

OK the plank is soaked and now I want to cook.  What is next?

First, when your grill is heated place the soaked plank with the smooth cooking surface facing down on the grill.  Second heat that surface for 5 to 10 minutes then turn it over so that the rough surface, if there is one, is facing towards the heat source and add some olive oil on the cooing surface to help stop the food from sticking to it.  I like to brush some grated garlic over the olive oil for an additional flavor.  Finally add your food and cook to the correct internal temperature suggested for that food.

What temperature should the grill be kept at?

350d to 400d is perfect.  Your food is not really being grilled like you are used to.  It is actually baking or roasting while it is being smoked by the smoldering plank.  This form of cooking will take longer than the direct grilling method.  If you do not have a temperature gauge on your grill you can find oven thermometers at most discount stores and then set it right on the plank while the food cooks.

What do I do when my food is cooked?

Remove you food from the smoldering plank.  Spray the plank with water to extinguish any embers that may exist and set it in a safe place while you enjoy your feast.

How long will my grilling plank last?

Softwoods such as Cedar will last for one grilling session.  Thin planks are used for quicker the foods.  Quick cook foods like seafood fillets, boneless chicken breast, pork chops or veggies can use thinner less expensive planks (1/2" to 5/8").  Larger pieces of meat take longer to cook and the plank should be a thicker size.  Whole chickens, pork loin roasts and whole fish would work well on a thicker plank (3/4" or thicker).  Hardwood planks might be able to be used several times but the abundant smoke if greatly reduced the second or more uses.  Using an indirect cooking method will help hard and soft wood planks last longer.  After heating the cooking surface of the plank center it over the middle burner of a three burner gas grill and turn that burner to low or even OFF.  You can maintain the right temperature within the grill using the two outside burners only.   The plank will still smolder and smoke but will last thru a longer cooking session.  The same idea can be used with charcoal.  After the first plank heating step move the charcoal to either side of the plank instead of directly underneath of it.  The 12" grilling plank will fit most grills in this method.  Longer planks may be too long to use in just the depth of most grills.  Measure your own grill to determine the proper size for use with the indirect cooking method.

How do I use my Great Smokie Grilling Planks?

You should prepare and use this version of grilling plank just as described above.  The Great Smokie will create quite a bit more smoke because of the extra holes drilled completely thru the wood.  Excellent option for many recipes. 

 How do I use my Planks with Herb Pots?

Again prep and use just as above but create your own herb pasties using your favorites.  Maybe crushed garlic and thyme.  Press the mixture into the herb pots in the plank after you have heated and oiled it.  Use the pots just under the food to be cooked and a couple of the pots surrounding the food to help create a stronger aroma.  

Using Roasting Planks in the Oven

Which Planks can I use in my oven?

All Creekside's Nature's Choice cooking planks can be used in your home oven except the great smokie.  The thicker the plank the ore times it can be used until it warps out of shape from the heat and moisture (toss it away when this happens).  Creekside now has cedar roasting planks designed for repeated use in your home oven.  They are much thicker than grilling planks and feature a dished out cooking surface to retain some of those great juices with your foods.  The wider versions of this style plank also feature rust resistant steel adjustment rods to help reduce warp and cracking.   Even the most durable Roasting Planks will warp and twist to a certain point and is normal ware and tear.  Small cracks will not affect the usefulness of your plank and the tightening rods will help keep it in tact for many more uses.   The rods can be tightened as your plank ages and changes with use, a wrench in included with this style of Creekside's plank.  When used in an oven the plank will not smoke like it does on the grill.  And NO it will not smoke up your house, but you will be able to smell the aroma.  Your food will be infused with the steam aroma of the plank.  This is not as strong an aroma than when grilling.

How do I use planks for the oven?

Heat your oven to 350d to 425d depending on the food your are preparing.  When roasting larger cuts of meat, it helps to wrap the meat with foil and tuck in under the bottom of the plank.  This speeds the cooking process and adds even more Cedar aroma to your foods.  When the food in near finish remove the foil to brown foods if desired.  This step is not necessary for quick cook items like fish or chicken fillets.

Please enjoy a year of safe and healthy plank cooking. 

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