Grilling is a great American pastime, a wonderful way to enjoy food as long as it's warm enough outside to operate your Weber. One of the more recent well-known grilling tricks is to cook meat on a cedar plank. The idea is that the wood slowly smolders, imparting the protein with a smoky flavor, quickly achieving the result of a smoker. This is particularly valuable if you're dealing with something like salmon, which can be finicky when exposed to direct grill heat.
But there are steps to the process of using a cedar plank that you shouldn't ignore. Some of these have to do with making the food taste great, but there's one that exists for entirely safety-based reasons: You need to soak the plank in water first. If you don't, you could very well burn your entire house down. That's not exactly a part of the formula for a winning backyard barbecue.
Soaking Your Wood Keeps Your Backyard From Burning Down
Soaking cedar planks makes a lot of sense when you think about it. They are very obviously made of wood, and wood burns. This is, in fact, the entire point of charcoal -- but you want the fire contained below the grill rather than on top of it. A fresh cedar plank is also going to burn a lot easier than charcoal. This is a serious concern because a fire started like this can quickly spread and rage out of control if you're not careful. You should always have fire safety equipment on hand near a grill, regardless, just in case.
The way around this problem is straightforward, though: Soak the plank for up to 12 hours before you grill with it. If you've ever had to try to light a campfire with soggy wood, you know it doesn't go well, and here, you're making that process work in your favor. The liquid also does double duty here, keeping the wood from catching fire and keeping your food moist as the liquid burns off.
Make Sure You Soak The Wood Correctly
There are other aspects to this process of which you should also be aware. Make sure you weigh the plank down in your soaking liquid with something heavy like a bowl so that it's entirely immersed; you don't want any of it running the risk of catching fire. And about that liquid, you've got some options.
Water is undoubtedly a viable option here -- it's not going to hurt anything -- but soaking the wood is also a great opportunity to add more flavor. You're not limited in choice; just use whatever extra flavor you'd like to impart on the meat. Saltwater is a viable choice if you want some extra saltiness in there, but you can also use things like beer, wine, or fruit juice.
Cedar planking can be a great way to impart all sorts of flavors through your grill. Just be sure to do it the right way, and nobody will need to call the fire department.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.