08 Oct. 1987|
Type of cedar for grilling,bunk bed kits,ladder storage furniture - Reviews
This is the final post in a 5-part grilling guide series by SE grilling correspondent Josh Bousel that should give you all the knowledge you need to tackle cookout season. Congratulations, after four solid days of basic grilling advice, you're pretty much an expert. I contend that smoke produced from charcoal will lend a very slight smokiness to food (the old, charcoal tastes better than gas debate), but you need to step up your game if you want real flavor out of your grilling medium. Grilling with wood is one of the greatest advantages to cooking food over a fire in my book, providing the unique opportunity to add a flavor that just can't be accomplished to the same degree inside a kitchen.
Chunks are usually about fist-size pieces of wood and my choice for getting things smoking. Many grilling books and guides will recommended soaking of wood chips, chunks, and logs prior to usage.
You can technically cook over hardwood exclusively, but for grilling, I think the best results are achieved by burning just the right amount of wood needed over charcoal.
Although it's more prevalent in barbecue and you may never see it when grilling with wood, I want to give a quick primer to the smoke ring—a pink discoloration at the surface of the meat which is too often confused as a sign of it being undercooked.
For all that I've grilled (150-plus recipes and counting), there's always plenty of uncharted territory.
It wasn't until I started seeing Mike Lang over at Another Pint Please plank everything from pork to vegetables to cheese, that my interest in this grilling technique perked.
Since then, the method has been carried down and modified for the home cook, with the grill being primary means of planking, but also adapted for use in the oven as well. Coming in an array of shapes and sizes, the first thing to consider is to pick out a plank best suited for what's being cooked on it.
If you can't find what you're looking for, or want to save a few bucks, cutting your own planks is an option. Size is just one important factor to consider, with type of wood weighing in pretty equally.
Fish: For delicate foods, like many fish, the more gentle flavors of woods like cedar and alder are a good match. Plank preparation is key: It must be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling to avoid over-charring or catching fire. Although there are many ways to grill with planks, so far, I've only found use for two methods. For this, a two-zone indirect fire is built, then the food arranged on a plank and placed on the cool side of the grill and covered.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. Unlike the past few days of tips, this is one that will require a bit more experimenting on your part, since more variables are in play and taste for smoke is incredibly subjective. They take longer to fully ignite than chips, but burn for a good hour in a grill, and hours in a smoker.
These are best reserved for barbecuing in a pit or with an offset smoker, but we're talking grilling, and I don't think logs serve much of a use here. When picking a wood to grill with, you always want a hardwoods—softwoods like pine and cedar create a nasty, sooty smoke that have the potential to be dangerous to your health. Oak is my go-to wood for almost anything, imparting that distinct smoke flavor without being overpowering. The wood of choice for Texas barbecue, because brisket is one of the few things that can stand up against the hefty flavor imparted from mesquite. For chunks, I find soaking pretty unnecessary, since they take a long time to fully burn out already and the added water just impedes the amount of time it takes to get them started. When cooking with smoke, especially for long times, a chemical reaction happens between the smoke and meat. He brings that love for barbecue, grilling, and cooking to Serious Eats as a regular recipe contributor.
The most common size is a rectangle roughly 13 x 7 inches, which tends to be pretty all-purpose, but squares, ovals, and individual serving sizes are also available for matching plank to food.
Rimmed sheet pans are perfect for soaking planks—just place a plank in the pan, add enough water to completely cover it, then weigh the plank down to keep it submerged (try using a medium-sized pot for this).
The longer the food cooks, the more time it has to get saturated with the wood's flavor, so I usually opt for medium heat to extend the cooking time with a full indirect cook.
Another option is searing prior to planking, which would be preferable for something like steak that would just not be right without a well developed crust. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill. For city dwellers like myself, who may not have a natural supply of wood to forage from, chunks are sold pretty inexpensively all over the internet. They take a long time to get to the point where you cook over them and produce more smoke than you'll probably ever need when grilling.
Hickory is heavier than oak, with a stronger flavor that's good for larger cuts of meat and just about any barbecue. For chips, this is almost immediate, while chunks will take a little bit of time to get to the right stage, about 5 minutes depending on the type of wood and its size. When nitrogen dioxide from wood combustion mixes with the natural moisture in the meat, it forms nitric acid, causing the pink smoke ring. I prefer to soak my planks for a minimum of an hour, flipping halfway through to ensure they're evenly and thoroughly soaked.
It's also great for quicker cooking fish fillets planked on lighter woods to make sure they pick up flavor.