American Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest have used the wooden plank to flavor foods since ancient times. Plank cooking imparts a smoky flavor to salmon cooked over an open fire. But planks can also be used indoors, in the oven.
This recipe provides an example of how plank cooking can add flavor without fat to almost any type of meat.
Cedar planks come in various sizes and are available at barbecue stores, supermarkets (sometimes a seasonal product), gourmet stores and hardware stores. Planks are reusable several times, if properly cleaned. Use a scouring pad to remove remnants of a previous meal. Remove cinders and charred bits from the other side with a wood file.
How to make it
Makes 4 servings.
1 cedar plank, soaked in water for 30 minutes
4 teaspoons olive oil, plus more as needed for oiling plank, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Using a paper towel, wipe the cedar plank thoroughly on top and sides with some olive oil. Do not put olive oil on bottom of plank. Place plank on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Coat the chicken breasts with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
Remove baking sheet with plank from oven and place chicken breasts on plank. Return plank on pan to oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is done, meat is no longer pink and meat thermometer inserted into center registers 165 F.
While chicken is baking, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Separate the onion into rings and add to skillet. Cook onion slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the bell peppers and garlic to onions. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach and cook, covered, until spinach begins to wilt, about 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
Arrange chicken breasts on serving plates or plank; top each with vegetables.
Nutrition per serving: 191 calories (29 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 85 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.