I’ve been grilling for years and I’ve used plenty of different techniques to flavor grilled meats: rubs, brines, marinades, sauces, and of course smoke.
One thing I’ve never done is cook meat on a plank; a plank of wood that is! I’ve seen and sampled plank-cooked meats in restaurants but I’ve never tried it at home.
After doing a bit of plank cooking research, I decided to add this style to my grilling playbook.
Here’s the step-by-step approach I used for my first attempt at grilling on a plank. If you’re following along, you’ll need:
Four half-inch thick Pork Chops
Kosher Salt, Freshly Ground Black Pepper, and other seasonings to taste
One untreated cedar plank
A charcoal or gas grill (or an oven in a pinch!)
At least 12 ounces of chilled beer or wine
Spoiler alert: It’s easy and the results are phenomenal. Let’s get started!
1. Soak the plank for at least one hour or more
Soaking the plank will keep it from burning when its on the grill. It also contributes to the flavor and moisture that will be transferred to the meat. If your plank floats, use a can or other object to weigh it down.
2. Lightly season the pork chops
Use a light mix of coarse salt, freshly ground pepper, and other seasonings to flavor the pork chops. Don’t go overboard with the seasonings, though. Most of the final flavor will come from the wood.
3. Set up your grill for indirect cooking with medium-high heat
Getting a grill ready for cooking is a lesson all by itself. If you’re new to grilling, follow the directions on the charcoal bag. The directions on Kingsford brand charcoal do a great job of pointing you in the right direction.
Indirect cooking makes your grill cook with ambient heat — like an oven. By pushing the coals to the sides of the grill, the middle becomes the prefect place to put the wood and meat to receive the heat moving around inside the grill.
4. Heat the planks
Once the grill is prepped for cooking, put the planks on the grilling surface over the coals. Let them heat up for three to four minutes. Heating the wood will intensify the flavors transferred to the meat while it cooks.
5. Flip the planks and add the meat
Once the planks are heated, flip them over so the heated side is facing up. Place the meat on the heated side.
6. Cover the grill and cook the meat for 20 to 25 minutes
At this point, relax! Cover the grill and let the meat cook for 20 to 25 minutes while you enjoy the chilled beer or wine. This is a very important step in the cooking process!
Do not open the grill! Removing the lid will allow heat to escape which will make for a longer cooking time. If you must look in the grill, use a small flash light to peer in through the open vents on the top.
After 20 minutes or so, open the grill to examine the meat. The chops should be nicely browned and the scent from the grill should be highly aromatic from the cedar smoke.
Use a cooking thermometer to check the meat’s internal temperature. It should be near 160 degrees Farenhiet for a well done chop. If they are not done or at the right temperature, replace the grill cover and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
7. Time to serve and enjoy!
Remove the meat from the plank and cover with foil undisturbed for three to four minutes. That should be plenty of time to pour another glass of wine or get another beer from the fridge.
Enjoy your beverage with your delicious, cedar flavored pork chops!
The wood flavor from these chops was enormous! I felt like I was getting over because cooking with the plank was so easy and resulted in so much flavor and texture.
I’m so glad I added this style to my grilling techniques. The next time I need something from the grill with a flavorful result — and not much effort — I’ll be reaching for a plank!