Gas grills are fast and easy, but don’t offer the flavor of charcoal – but toss in a cedar plank and teach that old gas grill some tasty new tricks! A cedar plank adds just the right amount of smokiness to your dish as it protects delicate meats, fish and vegetables from falling apart, sticking to the grill or premature burning – they’re brilliant, and everyone should know how to use them!
Start with a cedar plank (for cooking), NOT a cedar roof shingle or cedar from a lumberyard (they’re treated with chemicals). Earlier in the day, soak it in a clean sink or in a roasting pan – just add water and weigh the planks down with a pot of water, a rock, a can of tomatoes, or a watermelon; anything heavy enough to keep it underwater. It is best to soak them for 2-8 hours, especially if you are doing something that needs long cooking, like a whole chicken or a rack of ribs, but if time is short, 30 minutes will do for quick cooking foods, you’ll just need to mist the edges with water from time to time.
Steaks come out great on a cedar plank. Season in advance and rest at cool room temperature for 1-2 hours. Position the steaks evenly on the plank with about 1 inch spacing and 1 inch from the edges. Preheat a dual temperature fire (hot on one side and low on the other side), start cooking over the hottest portion of the grill and when they start smoking nicely, move to the lower temperature part of the grill. Cook about halfway and flip steaks over – remove from grill at desired temperature, I suggest between 120-130° internal. Rest 5-10 minutes and serve.
The smoke and the natural oils in the wood will infuse the steak with the flavor of the wood at the same time it locks in the meats juices. amazing!