Grilled plank salmon with garlic basil butter

2011 will forever be remembered as “the summer of barbecuing.” On that first warm day in April, when I rolled the small, dirty grill out onto the driveway and when, after staring at it for a few minutes, I had to go back inside and ask my mom how they hell you light it, I had no idea that in just a few short months I would have acquired grilling skills to rival those of my father.

And then I would surpass him in skill (Sorry dad, if you’re reading this. There was that one time where you had a gas leak under the grill and it was engulfed in flames!), at least when considering variety of foods I prepared and the consistency of quality. (Again, sorry dad.)

So in August, when I found out that was offering 12 cedar grilling planks for $9.oo, I jumped on that deal right away. I’ve always wanted to try grilling salmon on a plank, as apposed to the other hundred ways it can be prepared, because it seems so fancy. It was bittersweet when they arrived, however, because it had already started growing colder, it was getting darker much earlier, and I knew that grilling season was almost over.

But not before I tried out these planks!

You will need:

  • 1 cedar plank
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs salmon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 6 -7 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40-50 minutes
Serves: 4


The first step is to soak the plank in water. The longer you can do this, the better. In case you think you can get away with a ten minute soak, this is what happens:

That is me, holding a charred plank. It caught fire and before I could run in to the house, grab some water and run back out, it had completely ignited. The poor thing never stood a chance.

So yeah, soak your planks. You can weigh it down with a can of soup or spaghettios to keep it submerged.

*True story: my mom got really worried because she saw the can of spaghettios next to the salmon and thought I was taking my obsession a little too far, and was going to make spaghettios salmon. Gross…

Mix together the butter, basil and garlic in a small bowl.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper, and then spread the butter mixture on top.

Preheat half of your grill on medium-high, then place the plank on the heat to warm up.

*Keep a water bottle nearby to put out any flames!!! IMPORTANT! Don’t make the same mistakes I did! 🙂

We cooked this on indirect heat, so move the plank to the other, unlit side of the grill. Close the top and cook for 20-30 minutes, checking often.

It’s finished when it’s no longer red, the butter has melted, and it flakes evenly with a fork.

*Note the singed plank, evidence of where it was catching fire. Good thing we had water handy!

This slow cooking method is perfect for infusing the salmon with a lovely plank-y flavor, which goes perfectly with the garlic and basil butter.

It was so flaky and amazing, just looking at these pictures is making my mouth water. Maybe I’ll fire up the grill one last time before it gets too cold…


 Adapted from here

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