×

Help us help you

If we have helped you become a better cook, please become a Pitmaster Club member and help us become a better website. Benefits for members include:

(1) Seminars with famous Pitmaster Professors
(2) Access to The Pit forum
(3) An all new expanded Temperature Guide Magnet
(4) Gold Medal Giveaways of free grills and smokers
(5) Support for Operation BBQ Relief
(6) Support for AmazingRibs.com!

Learn more about the Pitmaster Club

Not ready to subscribe yet? Return to AmazingRibs.com

bbq grill and accessories ad
AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

message from meathead

Meathead the Barbecue & Grilling Lover Cartoon

Get Smoke Signals,
our FREE e-letter.
No spam. Guaranteed. Enter your email:

bbq ad

http://tinyurl.com/amazingribs

If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. Amazon and many other websites pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site!

Digital Thermometers:
Stop Guessing!

thermopop bbq thermometer

Gold BBQ AwardA good digital thermometer keeps me from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. You can get a professional grade, fast and precise splashproof thermometer like the Thermopop (above) for about $24. The Thermapen (below), the Ferrari of instant reads, is about $96. It's the one you see all the TV chefs and all the top competition pitmasters using. Click here to read more about types of thermometer and our ratings and reviews.

bbq thermapen

GrillGrates Take You To
The Infrared Zone

BBQ_grill_grates

Gold BBQ AwardGrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, produce great grill marks, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, smolder wood right below the meat, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips or pellets or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill and pellet smoker needs them.

Click here to read more about what makes these grates so special and how they compare to other cooking surfaces.

The Smokenator:
A Necessity For All Weber Kettles

smokenator bbq system

Gold BBQ Award If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the amazing Smokenator and Hovergrill. The Smokenator turns your grill into a first class smoker, and the Hovergrill can add capacity or be used to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here to read more.

The Pit Barrel Cooker

pit barrel c ooker bbqAbsolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world.

This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier (and that's because smoke and heat go up, not sideways).

Gold BBQ AwardBest of all, it is only $289 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them.

scissor tongs

Best. Tongs. Ever.

Gold BBQ AwardMade of rugged 1/8" thick aluminum, 20" long, with four serious rivets, mine show zero signs of weakness after years of abuse. I use them on meats, hot charcoal, burning logs, and with the mechanical advantage that the scissor design creates, I can easily pick up a whole packer brisket. Click here to read more.

Amp Up The Smoke

mo's smoking pouch

Gold BBQ AwardMo's Smoking Pouch is essential for gas grills. It is an envelope of mesh 304 stainless steel that holds wood chips or pellets. The airspaces in the mesh are small enough that they limit the amount of oxygen that gets in so the wood smokes and never bursts into flame. Put it on top of the cooking grate, on the burners, on the coals, or stand it on edge at the back of your grill. It holds enough wood for about 15 minutes for short cooks, so you need to refill it or buy a second pouch for long cooks like pork shoulder and brisket. Mine has survived mor than 50 cooks. Click for more info.

steak knives for bbq

The Best Steakhouse Knives

Gold BBQ AwardThe same knives used at Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, and Morton's. Machine washable, high-carbon stainless steel, hardwood handle. And now they have the AmazingRibs.com imprimatur. Click for more info.


The space above can be yours at our lowest rate. Click here to go to Blogads where you can upload your ad, pick the duration, and pay with credit card. It's easy!

tailgater magazine
digg

planked salmon

Mythbusting Planking

By Meathead Goldwyn

Planking is a variation of an old technique said to have been developed by native Americans of the Northwest US and Canada to cook salmon. Planking enthusiasts tell us to soak a plank of wood, usually 1/4" red cedar, in water for an hour or so. Then you get a grill hot and place the plank on. Some cooks leave the plank there to pre-heat and wait for it to crackle. Food, most often salmon, is placed on the plank. By the time the food goes on, most of the water on the underside of the plank has evaporated and it begins to smoke. Very quickly the water on the sides and top evaporates, some of it slightly steaming the fish. As heat and smoke rise from below the plank, there is a low pressure area created above the food, so the smoke is pulled over the top like the air over an airplane wing. Some of the smoke lands on the food.

But not much.

Despite the propaganda, very very little smoke flavor gets on the meat, most of it only on the edges.

cedar plank

Some enthusiasts say planking is really a steaming method, not a smoking method since so little smoke gets onto the food. Cedar is a soft wood and absords water better than the hardwoods used for most smoking. To see how much, I took planks of 1/4" red cedar held them under water for 24 hours, much longer than the recommended one hour. On average, a 15" long plank went from 6 ounces to 7.5 ounces. That's only 1.5 ounces of water. Most of it is on the bottom of the plank, much more is on the edges, and very little is in contact with the food. If you preheat the plank as the books recommend, it doesn't take long to steam off the bottom and edges of the plank, but that steam never touches the fish. And because the fish is much colder than 212°F, it goes from 40°F in the fridge to 145°F when it is done, and because wood is a honeycomb of air and a good insulator, the little bit of water soaked into the wood beneath the fish never turns to steam.

In some ways, planking seems like a variation of cooking on a griddle or another hot surface. But on a cast iron griddle or pan, the food sears and browns where it contacts the metal because metal stores and conducts heat well, especially steel. But wood is full of air and not much of a conductor so there is no searing or deep browning of the surfaces, and as we know, brown is flavor.

There are variations on the procedure. One method calls for soaking the plank, putting it on the grill, when the bottom starts to smoke, flip it and put the food on the smoking side. I tried this. The skin of the salmon did absorb some of the carbon flavor, but much of the skin stuck to the plank, and since it did not crisp, it wasn't very appetizing. Other methods include oiling the top side, or sprinkling it with large grains of salt, or laying down a bed of herbs. Neither was more effective than salting and herbing the top side of the fish, which got more heat. Another method tells you to soak the plank in apple juice or even whiskey. Using whiskey produced a spectacular flambe when I opened the lid and air rushed it. Did a heck of a job of trimming my mustache too. Not so much flavor though. I even tried placing an aluminum pan over the plank and meat and this did create a slight smoke flavor, but nowhere nearly as much as when I put wood chips or dried herbs on the heat supply in the normal fashion.

But one of the biggest drawbacks is the cost. When you are done you must discard the expensive plank, which is badly burned on one side and full of fish juices on the other. I suppose if you are using a really thick plank you could sand both surfaces, but that's a lot more time consuming than washing a dirty griddle or wire brushing a grill grate.

Finally, there is the matter of using cedar, a soft wood. I asked the author of a book on planking why nobody burns cedar for smoking. He said "It's funny, I would never use cedar in my grill or smoker, and yet I cook food on cedar planks all the time. If I am smoking a side of salmon I choose alder or hickory."

Hmmmmm.

The best feature of planking is the presentation. It looks impressive when you sit in front of your guests a slab of wood with juices running down the sides and a side of ruddy salmon astride it. But you can only do this outdoors because the bottom is usually still smoking and it will set off the smoke alarm.

And from a taste standpoint, meh. Every other method of cooking described on this site is superior.

This page was revised 10/10/2013

 


Please read before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.

Moderators

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, edited by Meathead.

This site is brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising on this site. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2014 by AmazingRibs, Inc. AmazingRibs.com is published by AmazingRibs, Inc., a Florida Corporation. Unless otherwise noted, all text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs, Inc. and fully protected by US copyright law. This means that unless you have written permission to publish or distribute anything on this website you have committed a Federal crime. But we're easy. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website. Note. Some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright.