Planking Secrets Paperback – May 15 2009
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About the Author
Rockin' Ronnie Shewchuk is never far away from a grill, whether he's leading workshops or on the competitive barbecue circuit cooking up a storm. A self-proclaimed barbecue evangelist, Shewchuk is the author of the best-selling books Barbecue Secrets and Planking Secrets. Food & Wine magazine named Shewchuk one of America's greatest grillers.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I have seen the future of backyard cooking, and planking is going mainstream.
A highfalutin statement, I know. For many years plank-cooking has been an obscure technique practised by restaurateurs, anglers and nerdish foodies. But, thanks to the growing availability of quality cooking planks and exposure on network television, hundreds of thousands of people across North America have been discovering this easy, delicious grilling technique.
For a generation that has grown up on flavorless propane and gas grills, plank-cooking is a simple way to add the classic taste and aroma of wood smoke to meat. And, as you'll find out in this book, it also happens to be a great way to prepare vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and even cheese.
The basic technique couldn't be simpler: soak a cedar or hardwood plank in water. Place it in a hot covered grill. When the plank starts to crackle and smoke, put whatever you want to cook on the plank and cover the grill. Soon you'll have juicy, perfectly cooked food infused with wonderful flavor.
I'll admit there's skepticism in some circles about planking. My friend and longtime mentor Bob Lyon is a correspondent for the National Barbecue News and a true barbecue purist. He says the popularity of cooking with planks--particularly in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, where cedar-planked salmon is a restaurant staple--is fueled by "misinformation for tourists and local gullibles." And another old pal, food writer and barbecue queen Kathy Richardier, says "it's a waste of perfectly good wood. The only wood I advocate for food cooking is long sticks stuck with hot dogs or marshmallows over a campfire."
Unlike my curmudgeonly chums, some backyard cooks are attracted to the idea of plank-cooking but are reluctant to use planks on their grills, perhaps fearing the unknown or worrying about potential flare-ups and fires. The concept can be a bit daunting.
Well, I'm here to challenge the skeptics and calm the concerns of cautious grillers. With Planking Secrets I aim to tear down the Cedar Curtain and make plank-cooking safe, easy and fun for all backyard grillers. As you try out the techniques and recipes in this book, I'm convinced you'll quickly understand just how versatile planking can be, and how it can produce some of the most succulent dishes you've ever tasted. From classic planked salmon with whiskey-maple glaze to planked mushrooms with tarragon vinaigrette or planked pears in a pool of rhubarb compote, there's something in Planking Secrets for every taste and skill level.
So, read on. I predict that once you've had a good planking of your own, your backyard cooking will never be the same.
Yours forever in smoke,
Rockir Ronnie a.k.a. Count Plankenstein
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Planking Secrets" is by far the best of the lot. The discussion of the history, science, and technique of plank grilling is second to none, and the recipes are the best I have ever tried. Every time I cook a recipe from this book I get rave reviews. Just tonight I cooked a maple-planked chateubriand with a coffe/cocoa/cinnamon/pecan/pepper rub from page 154 that was so good it left everyone literally speechless. If you are going to try plank grilling you simply have to own this book. The Author clearly knows just about everyone who is anyone when it comes to fine foods, because some of the best in the business have contributed recipes and techniques to this book.
I don't think Mr. Griffo, who gives this book a negative review, knows what he is talking about. As noted, I have read several books and a lot of internet discussion and I see a pretty even split between the two camps. It is telling that this book has the best recipes and many were contributed by well-known professionals who clearly respect the author and his methods. My guess is that they know more than Mr. Griffo.
This is a great book, buy it.
His concern is misinformed.
There is virtually no risk of fire spreading off the barbecue when putting a soaked plank on open flames while cooking. Indeed, that is the art and science of planking.
I've given several copies of this books to friends far more skilled on the grill than I. Reviews are 100% positive.
Every dish we've tried has been excellent. He's both a great cook and entertaining writer.
Five stars from this reviewer. Though I like Shewchuk's "Barbecue Secrets" cookbook even better.
So now for a few words about the book(s): I just left 2 fairly negative reviews for the other 2 books for various reasons, primarily the recipes. This book, I have to say, is different. The recipes are actually pretty good! I have tried about half a dozen to a dozen of the recipes and the results were almost uniformily good (to great!). The flavors meld well together, there are no outrageous/incongruous ingredient combinations as in one of the other books, and recipe themes are respected (i.e. an Asian themed recipe will have the recquisite Asian themed ingredients and not try to "out-do" itself by an addition of something out of left field). One reason is that Mr. Shewchuk carefully adapts many of the recipes from well established chefs who, in turn, concentrate on the cooking and not on cookbook writing for a commercial return.
All in all, I like this book. The only reason I didn't give it a perfect 5 stars is because, alas, Mr. Shewchuk's folksy, apron/cowboy hat demeanor is sometimes irritating. A little bit of decorum and seriousness for the task at hand would have been better. Cooking should be fun, not silly.