Simple and elegant, cedar plank cooking has been part of the Pacific Northwest since early native Americans first discovered this method. Food such as these these stuffed Portabella caps lend themselves to leisurely evenings complimented with good wine and good friends.
The most difficult thing in cedar plank grilling is remembering to soak the planks before you’re ready to fire up the grill. Aluminum foil is the solution. Although it’s best to soak the planks hours in advance of cooking, they also work perfectly well soaked just a short time prior to going on the grill provided they’re placed in a shallow aluminum foil “boat” with a little liquid added. Fold up the corners of the foil, pour in a little water or water and white wine, and you’re ready! Grilled on cedar, salmon and other foods come out wonderfully moist and take on smokey, woodsy flavors.
Grilled over charcoal, caramelized corn on the cob and pineapple rings go well with stuffed mushrooms.
Although cedar is popular, alder, hickory and boards from fruit trees work well too. Thoroughly cleaned, the boards can be used multiple times. Since plank cooking creates a barrier between the coals and the food, cooking time will be a little longer. In addition to preserving moistness and imbuing food with more complex flavors, planking typically results in more evenly cooked food than straight charcoal grilling.
Cedar-Planked Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Smoked Salmon and Manchego Cheese
- Cut out the Portabella stems, chop course and place in a bowl. Add shredded or finely cubed Manchego cheese, finely chopped sweet onions, finely chopped garlic, tarragon, freshly cracked pepper, extra virgin olive oil, a small amount of sherry or white wine, and soy sauce or sea salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.
- Break up smoked salmon, cedar planked salmon, or any previously cooked salmon into small pieces and gently fold into the above mixture.
- Spoon mixture into mushroom caps and place on a cedar plank that has been well soaked. If desired, fashion a shallow aluminum foil boat slightly larger than the cedar plank and place 1/2 cup of water and white wine in the foil to help keep the plank moist.
- Grill over medium to medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, until a fork passes easily through the mushroom.
An Italian Amarone – a full-bodied red wine with lots of cherry – pairs especially well with a cedar-planked feast.