Cedar and other wood-plank cooking is probably one of the oldest “new” food trends around. It’s a technique that was used by the Northwest Native Americans to roast fish, meats and fowl. Nowadays, adventurous chefs can choose between baking and barbeque planks in variety of woody flavors. Baking planks may be used again and again to impart subtle flavor while maintaining the natural juices in meats and vegetables alike. Barbeque planks also add truly unique flavor, combining the earthiness of the wood plank and the smokiness of the grill.
When choosing planks, pick only untreated cedar, alder, hickory or maple. Using treated wood may actually poison the food as well as the person enjoying it. Also remember that some woods are bolder than others— cedar is more aromatic and adds stronger woodsy flavor while alder is milder and sweeter, with a very subtle flavor. If you are baking with a cedar plank, be sure to keep temperatures at or below 425°. For grilling, soak the plank for one to four hours in water, wine, or apple, citrus or berry juices. You could even use tea. This adds moisture to the wood along with complimentary flavors, which prevents the plank from burning on the grill or in the oven.