Will Steak Still Develop A Crust If Grilled On A Plank?

If you enjoy the smoky flavor that wood can impart on a dish, then you might have discovered cooking with a wood plank. Planking your meat or fish can give it a unique flavor, depending on the type you use — maple, pecan, cedar hickory, or oak. Each plank imparts a distinctive taste to your protein, but because you have to soak your planks before using them they're not the best option for searing.

Soaking a plank not only prevents it from burning while it's over the heat source but also encourages the protein on the plank to stay moist. While a piece of fish can be cooked delicately on a wood plank from start to finish and turn out perfect, certain meats need a little bit of extra TLC before they come into contact with the wood. If you want that traditional crust on a steak, then it's important to know that your plank will not get that job done for you because it needs direct contact with heat.

Give it a good sear first

To have that desirable texture on a steak you really want that nice browning on the outside, so in order to get that you'll need to sear your steak either before or after you put it on the plank. This is similar to what you'd do if you were cooking your steak with the sous vide method. In order to do this, you'll need to soak your plank for a minimum of 15 minutes and be sure to weigh it down with a heavy pot or bowl so that it's fully immersed in water. 

If you are using a grill to cook your steak, then go ahead and grill the steak over high heat for a couple of minutes on each side before you cook it on the plank. While you could sear the steak at the end of the cooking process, there's an argument to be made for doing it before as the crust you develop will help keep the juices inside the steak as it cooks. If you are using a plank in the oven, give the meat a sear in a hot pan before placing it on the plank. This way your steak will come out with a wonderfully smokey flavor from the wood plank but will also have that classic steak texture you love.