In central Minnesota it finally got warm enough to grill out, so I decided to make a cedar-plank grilled salmon. It was nothing too adventurous, so I wanted to find a recipe with a twist to it.
Eventually I found this recipe for a pinot noir infused cedar-plank salmon with some fresh herbs on top. The recipe calls for soaking the plank and wood chips in a pinot noir and water mixture before grilling. That sounded pretty good, and it is always a nice idea to start the grilling season with a lot of smoke to let the neighborhood know that winter is over.
I used a baking sheet to soak the plank in the wine-water mixture, and a measuring cup filled with the wine mixture and wood chips to weigh it down. I soaked everything for about 2-3 hours. The wood chips I used were organic golden alder chips that I bought from Maine Grilling Woods. They have a nice selection of wood chips for smoking and were featured in Food & Wine in June of last year. The Food & Wine article also gives 20 grilling tips, which are handy to review before grilling season really starts.
I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, but I did marinate the salmon longer in the wine-water mixture and sprinkled some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on the fish before putting it on the grill. Also, because I bought a rather large center-cut piece of salmon, it took around 20-25 minutes to cook instead of 15 minutes as the recipe calls for. The marjoram, thyme and rosemary were also a nice touch on top.
The end result was really amazing. I had never cooked with wood chips before, and I can’t say exactly how much the pinot noir influenced the taste, but it was so good that I don’t think I would change anything the next time. In the end the hardest part of the meal was sacrificing a bottle of red wine to season the wood, but the result was definitely worth it.