Grilling is more than an occasional summertime excuse for a party around our house—it is a year-round brave-the-weather habit. Over the weekend, temperatures hit the 80° mark here in Colorado and my cedar planks were ready for duty. This recipe was used to grill chicken for Chicken Alfredo and it was amazing with its subtly sweet, smoky flavor. Coastal Cuisine is the brand I have used, but there are many on the market from which to choose. I like that their cedar is from sustainable forests and the planks can be reused until they are used up. Ordinarily I recommend marinating meat before grilling, but when using wood planks it is best to lightly season so the flavor of the wood comes through.
Boneless, skinless or bone-in chicken are interchangeable for this recipe, simply adjust cooking time as needed. I like to use bone-in chicken thighs for BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches or boneless, skinless chicken breasts to top salads or pasta dishes as shown in the photo. Since I am a batch-cooking kind of gal, I rarely light the grill for just one meal. If a recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts, you may as well cook 12 to get the most out of a chimney full of coals or the 10-minute preheat. Grilled chicken freezes well, so this is an ideal time to cook a few extra pieces for quick lunches or a midweek meal.
Cedar Plank Grilled Chicken
1 cedar plank — approx. 7″x16″
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast or 8 bone-in thighs
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt — per pound of chicken
extra virgin olive oil
black pepper — freshly ground
Lightly pound the thickest part of the chicken breasts with a meat mallet to create an even piece of meat. Salt the chicken liberally with sea salt and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but no longer than 24 hours. Soak the cedar plank in water for 1-2 hours before grilling.
After brining, season chicken with pepper and drizzle with olive oil (olive oil is not needed for chicken thighs).
On a preheated gas grill, place cedar plank on grill over direct heat. Place chicken breasts directly on the cedar plank and grill over med-low heat with the lid closed. The planks will smoke while cooking, which is ideal, so it is important to keep the lid closed as much as possible.
Check the chicken every 2-3 minutes turning as needed to allow each side of the chicken to make contact with the plank while cooking. Once the chicken is almost cooked through, remove from the plank (leaving plank on grill) and cook directly on the grill to develop grill marks on the meat.
Serve on top of pasta sauces, salads, or shredded for BBQ chicken sandwiches.
NOTE: The planks can be reused until completely burned up; see package instructions for guidelines.