Today’s dish is quite easy if done correctly, and absolutely delicious. And it is also the event that has forced me to contemplate a big (for me) decision regarding what I will be cooking on as we enter the official outdoor grilling season.
Let’s start with the dish. At almost any store these days you can find in the “outdoor” section a couple cedar planks in a package for around $6. Once you get them home submerge them in water and weigh them down by placing a large skillet on top of them. You will need to keep them submerged for at least one hour, even longer if possible. I usually use these planks on a charcoal grill, but since I get rid of my kettle grills due to wear and tear, I have been using a gas grill. So, set up the gas grill with indirect heat, meaning one or two of your burners is not turned on. You want to get the temperature of the grill up to 350 to 400 degrees.
Place the salmon skin side down on the soaked plank and season with your favorite rub or spices. We used fresh dill, salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Place the planked salmon on the part of the grill that is NOT over a flame. Close the lid and allow the plank to “steam” the salmon, infusing the salmon with the flavor of the wood. This will take 15 to 20 minutes.
Toward the end of the process I noticed more smoke than usual coming out of the grill, and wouldn’t you know it the plank was on fire. This never happened with a charcoal grill. Luckily the fish was fully cooked by then but the plank was not salvageable. So this got me thinking about my grilling future and how this cheap gas grill is not my outdoor culinary future. So I will be taking you on my search in the following weeks, while obviously sharing recipes as we go. And boy-oh-boy are there choices these days. I could simply go buy another kettle grill and upgrade the quality of my gas grill. You see, I will admit I have become spoiled by not having to light coals every time I grill, but I like knowing I could grill traditionally if the urge hits me.
But what about “low and slow” smoking? I could simply get another charcoal smoker, but I will ashamedly admit that pellet grills / smokers sound pretty darn good, too. These units are electrically fueled and ignite small pellets which produce the heat and the smoky flavor. These units are now able to grill at temperatures as high as 500 degrees, so in essence this pellet unit would replace the gas grill, the charcoal grill and the charcoal smoker. You can smoke all night with these units and not have to worry about coals going out, which sounds heavenly. But I feel like a hypocrite as I have always called pellet smokers a form of culinary cheating. But in all honesty that’s what I’m leaning toward.
Anyway, I’ll keep you up to date with what I find as I make my choice. Oh, and give cedar plank salmon a try!