Many backyard cookouts feature the same menu items without much variation: hamburgers and hot dogs are plentiful, and maybe there will be some steak or chicken, but often the selections are limited. Grill planks offer a great alternative as they open you up to an entirely new assortment of meats, fish, vegetables and even cheeses that were too difficult to cook on the grill before. Grill planks in their simplest form are simply wood planks cut to fit onto your basic grill, however, what makes grill planks so unique is their ability to absorb liquid which when heated up produces a smoky aroma.
Why do you need to soak the planks?
Soaking your wood planks ahead of time provides a multitude of benefits.
Soaking for flare ups
Certain grilling techniques allow and even encourage you to have flames from your coals flare up to your food. However, when using grill planks this is highly discouraged for several reasons. Grill planks are an indirect heat type of grilling which means that you want to have an consistent temperature for the duration of the grill with as little contact to flames as possible. Preventing flare ups also has the added benefit of prolonging the life of your plank as it doesn’t put as much stress on the wood. If you do encounter a flare up you can either use a squirt bottle or close the lid to your grill to extinguish the flame.
Soaking for flavor
Another benefit of soaking your planks ahead of time is to add that additional smoky flavor to your food. Although water is traditionally used for soaking planks, we have experimented with and enjoy soaking our planks in a variety of different liquids. For instance red wine, beer or apple cider are excellent for adding some additional deep notes into the smoky aroma the planks give off.
Soaking time recommendations
We encourage everyone who purchases a grill plank from us to soak their planks for a bare minimum of 30 minutes to an hour prior to grilling just to get a good amount of smoke out of the wood. That being said, a good rule of thumb for ideal soaking time for wood is 30 minutes per inch (length) of wood. For example if you are using a 12 inch (length) of wood then an ideal soak time would be 6 hours. By following this simple guideline not only will you get the most aroma you will greatly increase the reusability of your plank.