Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Review: The Plank Grilling Cookbook

The Plank Grilling Cookbook
By Dina Guillen, M. Everly, Michelle Lowrey and G. Bernsdorff
Paperback, 192 Pages
Publisher: Sasquatch Books (March 17, 2006)
ISBN-10: 1570614741
Rating (1 to 5 *) *****

The Plank Grilling Cookbook is a very special and unique addition to the Kitchen Shelf. Among the numerous advantages of living in the paradise that is Northern California is that the backyard barbecue season never ends! Sure, we have a few days of rain now and again, but the weather bounces back and we are right back in barbecue weather. This is why we all either have or covet sprawling outdoor kitchens and dining areas! And for this reason it is not only acceptable but it is practically required that I call your attention to a book that will bring you the true joy of your outdoor kitchen (or you Webber Kettle) throughout the year. So I present to you the Plank Grilling Cookbook!

Plank cooking is not a new idea. I have a favorite recipe for a planked Porterhouse that dates from the 1930s. Furthermore, high priced grilling planks have been available through high-end, specialty cooking stores for many years. The sad part, however, was that most of the guidance that you got for using those planks was in the single page brochure that came shrink-wrapped with them. 

The Plank Grilling Cookbook to the rescue! This is a wonderful work by the same ladies who brought you Cooking Club, reviewed earlier in this blog. Like Cooking Club, The Plank Grilling Cookbook is a work of passion, written by talented amateurs who really know how food goes together. Because this is not written by a staff of French chefs, the recipes are very approachable, and because it is written by consummate foodies, the recipes are excellent!

The recipe that every set of planks came with was for planked salmon, and for good reason: salmon plays excellently well with cedar smoke. In fact, when the planks were first hitting the market a decade ago, I even saw one set of them labeled as “Salmon Planks”. 

But there is so much more that you can do with wood planks on the grill, and that is what the Cooking Club ladies demonstrate in The Plank Grilling Cookbook.

From The Plank Grilling Cookbook, p. 56

Lamb and Potato Kebabs

6 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 16 one-inch cubes
6 small red potatoes, halved
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, cut into wedges
4 skewers

Soak plank according to instructions on page xix.

To make the marinade, combine the garlic, onion, wine, vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice in a large resealable plastic bag. Add lamb to bag, seal, and marinate in refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Remove lamb from bag and discard marinade. Put lamb in a large bowl and set aside. Put potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until barely tender. Drain and set aside.

Add lemon zest, rosemary, cumin, salt, and pepper to lamb. Toss gently to coat. Thread lamb, potato halves, and onion wedges alternately onto skewers.

Prepare plank for grilling according to instructions on page xx. Place kebabs on plank. Close lid and grill for 4 minutes on each side, or until lamb reaches desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings