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December 13th, 2004

Cold weather is knocking on the door in most of the country - time to change gears! How about some good comfort food. What are you hungry for? Send your favorite winter recipes to us!

By Ken Young (Silvertop)

First, go to your local building supply store and find a cedar plank with as few knots as possible. Here in Arizona I get Cedar Fence boards from Home Depot. They are about 6" wide, " thick and 6 or so feet long. I have to sand them with a palm sander 'cause they are rough cut and the salmon would stick to the rough stuff. Cut sections from the plank that are about " less than the width of your grill. It's best if you are able to cut the sections in between the knots. I've never had a knot fall out but I suppose they could and the oil in the knot may be a bit stronger for the fish. (I have a Weber Genesis 3 burner job which takes about a 20" plank.)

O.K., you got your plank.

Here's how you do it.

Ingredients you'll need:

    1 Cedar Plank

    4 or 5 Cups Pinot Noir wine (I generally use whatever red wine happens to be open at the time.)

    1 Salmon filet (if it is wider than the plank you'll have to trim some off the edges of the filet).

    Cup Light Olive Oil

    Some Lemon wedges

    Some salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

    5 Sprigs Thyme

    5 Sprigs Rosemary

    5 Sprigs Marjoram

    Some Fresh dill, chopped fine.


    Place the plank in a container, or plastic food bag, large enough to totally immerse the plank. I use an old Coleman cooler that still holds water. (I don't use my newer ones since the wine will stain the inside of the cooler). Another good idea is a plastic tray, like you get from a wallpaper store. Add a cup or two (or three or more if you feel frisky) of the wine to enough water to completely cover the plank. I've been known to use our laundry tub and a plastic garbage bag. I've also been known to pour the entire bottle of cheapie wine in the mix. Of course the plank will float so you have to weigh it down. I use a stone that has sharp edges on the bottom so it only touches the plank in spots. Under the plank I put a few same size " pebbles so the solution can get underneath. Soak the plank overnight. I usually try for a 24 hour soak or so (for the plank, not me of course). The idea is to saturate the plank so it doesn't burn. The ensuing steam from a well soaked plank is what makes the salmon very tender.

    30 minutes before you are going to grill, whisk together in a GLASS bowl for the marinade:

      1-1/2 cups water

      1-1/2 cups Pinot Noir (or whatever red wine you have)

      cup Olive Oil

      a Squeeze of Lemon (I usually just cut a lemon in half and squeeze one half into the marinade and cut the other half into sections to serve with the salmon.)

      Salt and Pepper to taste

      Break up the following into 1-2" pieces and add to the marinade:
      1 sprig thyme

      1 sprig rosemary

      1 sprig marjoram

    Rinse the salmon under cold water, dry with paper towels and add to the marinade. Here I usually roll the salmon filet up and put it in a large Ziploc bag along with the marinade. Put the whole works in a bowl (in case the Ziploc leaks you don't want to have the wine/water all over the kitchen floor - this is my insurance against incurring the wrath of my Dutch wife - everyone knows that the Dutch are rabid about clean floors and windows).

    Light the grill about 10 minutes before grilling, turning on all burners. When the temperature reaches 350 to 400 degrees turn off the burners directly below the plank (in my case I turn off the center burner and leave the outside ones on medium). Remove the salmon from the marinade and center the salmon on the plank. Top sparingly with Salt and Pepper to taste, and place 2 sprigs each of Thyme, Rosemary, and Marjoram on the salmon. Place the plank w/salmon on the grill. The idea is to keep your temperature of 350 to 400 degrees F. - I usually run about 385 according to the thermometer on the grill.

    Close the lid on the grill but don't go too far away...keep an eye on the grill to avoid the cedar plank catching on fire. I never have had a fire but my planks get pretty charred on the bottom (which is much better than having my bottom get pretty charred on the planks of course). If you do have a fire, simply drizzle some of the wine marinade over the flames. Be careful not to burn yourself with steam.

    Grill the salmon for 25 to 30 minutes. It should be lightly opaque at the center but still juicy. Remove from the grill using an oven mitt. Serve the plank on a platter (must not get charcoal smudges on m'Lady's table cloths) directly to the table with fresh lemon wedges and garnished with the last 2 sprigs of Thyme, Rosemay and Marjoram. Sprinkle with chopped dill.

Eet Smaaklijke (Dutch for Bon Appetite which in turn is French for "Feed Yo Face") ~ Ken Young

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