June, 2015 — The Father’s Day Issue

Father's Day Grilling Menu

I asked several friends and coworkers what they thought we should cook for the Father’s Day issue, and the response was unanimous: steak and potatoes. When it comes to grilling beef, you certainly don’t have to twist my arm. Of course, we can’t just do any old steak and potatoes for Dad. That’s why we’ve come up with a steak fit for a king. Double-oaked Cowboy Steaks are quickly seared over an oak fire, and then grill-roasted to perfection on oak planks. For the potatoes, we keep the aromatic plank grilling theme going with Plank Smashed Potatoes with Shishito Peppers.

Happy Father’s Day and happy grilling!


Russ Faulk

Plank Smashed Potatoes with Shishito Peppers

Plank Smashed Potatoes with Shishito Peppers

The subtle perfume of oak infused roasted vegetables really raises the flavor to the next level. The result is a fabulous side dish for the perfect grilled steak. These are similar to our Smash-roasted Red Potatoes recipe, but we’ve added zesty shishito peppers and smashed garlic cloves. Then, instead of roasting them on a sheet pan, we roasted them on an oak board to add a delicious smoky wood flavor. For more information about plank grilling, view our helpful guide.


  • 2 oak planks, about 7 inches by 12 inches, soaked for 90 minutes (we like to use thicker planks than is common, 1 ¼ inches in this case)
  • Oak wood chips or chunks for smoking
  • 4 red potatoes, cleaned
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 shishito peppers
  • 8 baby bella mushrooms, larger mushrooms cut in half
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper


Place the potatoes in a large pot. Fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then boil for 20 minutes more. Remove from heat and drain the potatoes.

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling at 400° to 450°F with a little wood smoke.


TIP: On a Kalamazoo K750 Hybrid Fire Grill, you can achieve this temperature by running a single (far left or far right) Dragon Burner on high, and all other burners off. Add two oak wood chunks at a time in the hybrid grilling drawer over the running burner to generate smoke and boost the flavor.

For other gas grills, I suggest a foil smoking envelope filled with oak wood chips.


Smash the potatoes to flatten and break them open. Smash the garlic cloves as well to crack them open. Drizzle the potatoes, garlic, shishito peppers and mushrooms generously with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the soaked oak plank directly above the fire for one minute to heat it up. Flip it over and move it to the indirect zone. Place all of the vegetables except for the shishito peppers on the plank in a single layer. Close the grill and roast for 1 hour total cooking time. Add the shishito peppers after the first 20 minutes. Rotate the plank as needed for even cooking. Keep the temperature below 500 degrees to reduce the chances of the plank catching fire. Use a spray bottle of water to douse any flames on the plank should this happen.

Remove from the grill, and place the plank on a heat-resistant trivet to serve. Caution, the plank will be hot. If you would like, you can transfer the roasted vegetables to a platter and remove the hot plank to a safe location. 

Double-oaked Cowboy Steaks

Grilled Double-oaked Cowboy Steaks

The aroma of these steaks is simply amazing. An oak fire provides the heat, first for searing the steaks, and then for roasting on the plank. It also provides a subtle flavor that is identifiable, but does not overwhelm the beef. The earthy steak rub uses dried shitake mushrooms and savory leaves for a flavorful crust.

Don’t worry, a wood fire is not required – you can still make an awesome steak with a gas grill. Simply sear over the gas flame, then add oak wood chips to provide smoke while the steaks finish roasting in the indirect zone.

For more information about plank grilling, check out our helpful guide.


  • 2 oak planks, about 7 inches by 12 inches, soaked for 90 minutes (we like to use thicker planks than is common, 1 ¼ inches in this case)
  • Oak wood chunks for the fire, or chips for smoking
  • 12 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon dried, chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried savory leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 bone-in ribeye steaks, about 2 1/2 pounds each
  • Extra virgin olive oil


Grind the dried shitake mushrooms in a blender, coffee mill, or spice mill. Do the same with the dried, chopped garlic. We like to grind our dried ingredients shortly before cooking to get the most flavor out of them. Combine the ground shitakes and garlic with the remaining rub ingredients. This yields about 1/3 cup of rub. You can keep any leftover rub in a small, air-tight container in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Lightly coat the steaks with olive oil and coat generously with steak rub on all sides. Let rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Prepare the grill for indirect grilling at 400° to 500°F with a hot searing zone. We recommend searing over an oak wood fire to achieve the best flavor for this recipe.

Sear the steaks on the hottest part of the grill. This can require as little time as 1 minute per side, or as much as 3 minutes per side, depending on your grill and your fire. Using a live oak fire on the K750 Hybrid Fire Grill, we seared the steaks for 1 minute per side.

While the steaks are searing, place the planks on the grill grate in the indirect zone to heat them up. After you have finished searing the steaks, flip the planks over and place one steak on each plank, keeping them in the indirect zone of the grill. Close the grill and roast for about 40 minutes total cooking time until you reach the desired doneness. For medium rare, remove the steaks from the grill when they read an internal temperature of 115 to 120°F. The temperature will continue to rise after they are off the grill.

During the roasting time, rotate the steaks as often as needed for even browning and cooking. Flip the steaks over on the planks half way through the roasting time. Keep the temperature below 500 degrees to reduce the chances of the plank catching fire. Use a spray bottle of water to douse any flames on the plank should this happen.

Remove from the grill, and place the plank on a heat-resistant trivet to serve. Caution, the plank will be hot. If you would like, you can transfer the steaks to a platter and remove the hot plank to a safe location. Carve the steaks to share after resting them for 5 minutes.

Plank Grilling

Cooking meats on a wooden board is an old tradition. Some believe it originated with the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Others believe the practice originated in Scandinavia. For the backyard chef, it matters little who was the first to cook meat on a plank. The important thing is to enjoy the unique process, the impressive presentation and the wood-infused flavor. Plank grilling is easy, and it can be a nice change of pace.

The Basics of Plank Grilling

There are three important rules to plank grilling. Follow all three, and you should have successful results.

  1. Soak the planks in water for at least an hour before cooking. Thicker boards need more time.
  2. Do your cooking in the indirect zone of the grill. The planks should be next to the fire; not over the fire.
  3. Keep the temperature below 500°F. Once the wood becomes dry from the heat of the grill, it is more likely to combust. Most wood will combust somewhere around 450°F. Keeping the temperature below 500°F should greatly reduce the chances of your plank (and your food) catching on fire.

Cedar is the most popular wood species for plank grilling, but we encourage you to try other varieties, especially hardwoods like alder, oak, hickory and maple. Each will infuse your food with its own, distinct perfume and flavor.

The Benefits of Plank Grilling

Any meat or vegetable that can be roasted, can be roasted on a plank. Plank grilling will add a delicious earthy wood flavor to your food, as well as moisture. The water in the soaked planks is released as flavorful steam, resulting in moist, succulent food.

Where to get Your Planks for Grilling

A great place to purchase wood for plank grilling is at a hardwoods store that serves carpenters. As long as the wood is clean, untreated and one of the species mentioned above, it should be safe to cook on. We like to use thick planks because they are less likely to catch fire while cooking. They are also less likely to warp. Purchasing your planks at a hardwoods store has two main benefits: they cost less than pre-processed and packaged grilling planks; and you can choose any size and thickness you desire. Most stores will gladly cut a long board into smaller pieces for you. A typical charge for this service is $0.25 per cut.

Plank Grilled Mackerel

What to Grill on a Plank

You’ve probably already tried cedar-planked salmon at least once. You can get the same great results with a cedar-planked whole trout. Try stuffing it with herbs for even more flavor. You can also grill hamburgers, steaks, chicken, lamb and vegetables on a plank. Oak-planked mushrooms are particularly good, as are zucchini and onions.

Here are some plank-grilled recipes from our own Kalamazoo grillmaster:

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Soak your chosen planks for at least one hour.
  2. For gas grilling, preheat the entire grill, then turn off the burners for the indirect grilling zone.  For charcoal grilling, bank the fire to one side of the grill. We suggest mixing chunks of wood of the same species as the plank (only if hardwood, do not do this with cedar) into the charcoal for even more flavor.
  3. Place the plank on the grill above the fire for about a minute to heat the plank. Then flip the plank over and place it in the indirect zone so the preheated side faces upward. Place the food on the plank and close the grill.
  4. Rotate and reposition your planks as often as you need for even cooking. For some foods, like steak, you may want to flip the food on the plank halfway through cooking. As mentioned, keep the air temperature inside the grill below 500°F to reduce the risk of your planks catching on fire.
  5. Keep a spray bottle handy filled with clean water. Use this to douse the flames if your planks do catch on fire.
  6. After use, a plank can be cleaned and used again. Rinse well with water, and then put the plank back into a hot grill for at least 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. It is recommended that a plank used to grill fish should only be reused to cook more fish.

Additional Tips

Because plank grilling produces so much moisture, you may want to sear or brown meats on both sides before placing them on the plank to cook through. You can also pull food off the plank at the end of cooking to brown it over the fire.

It can be fun to prepare an entire meal on planks, with vegetables on the same plank as the protein. Cut up vegetables will likely require less roasting time than a big piece of meat. We suggest adding the vegetables part way through the cooking process so the entire board of food is finished cooking at the same time.

You can also add herbs on top of the plank to create more complex flavors. You can even experiment with soaking planks in herbal tea or beer instead of water.