Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Spicy Maple Planked Salmon

By the soft light of the old kerosene lamp, I bandied together a few salmon fillets, previously plucked by my lovely bride fromIMG_0464 the icy straits of Ketchikan, Alaska. They were handsome fish once upon a time, and still were, patron to the grill front this eve. Their deep, orange flesh looked good in the scant light, and would look even better, I wagered, on a plank, over a smoldering bed of coals. And that’s what we did. So grab yourself a lovely beverage and settle in why don’t you, and let me tell you how it went and came to be, this the glory of spicy maple planked salmon, hot off the grill. Man!

Whilst your plank is coming up to temp over a lovely bed coals, (you soaked it for an hour at least didn’t you?) assemble your salmon fillets in one accord, and lightly dash them over with a wee bit of salt, and tad and half of pepper. Then, and just because, we add a dash of dill weed too. Call it instincts. Then, we slathered the top and the sides of each fillet with a good, spicy, Chipotle mustard. Lastly, and with a soft hand, we sprinkled dark brown sugar over it all, and in turn, beneath a crescent moon, all was well. A recipe we cannot take credit for, but rather one adapted some from the Obe Wan Kenobe of professional pit mastering, one, Steve Raichlen. If he can do it, surely any pit jockey can.

Once your plank has curled some, indicating it’s hot enough, with a deft tong, gently place the gussied up fillets where they need to be. The plank, by the way, should be placed directly over the coals, but on the grate, for this culinary procedure. Planking, if you haven’t tried it yet, is a fabulous way to grill your meats and infuse them with smoke at the same time. And we are big fans of it here on this site. It is maybe the easiest grilling you will ever do. The plank acts as a heat shield of sorts, so your spoils do not morph into blackened rubble, whilst at the same time, impregnating your proteins with the pefectly formed smoke, and thus, the savory flavor this heady game is known for.


After the fillets were properly placed, in other words, no parts over-hanging the plank, go ahead and place the cover back on the grill. The hardest part of planking is now done, freeing up the pit master for the more important and often neglected business of drawing a lovely beverage from the refrigerator. Or it might be your style to affix yourself to your favorite man chair, and while away the minutes there, toe-pits up, your favorite tunes aloft in the room. Or maybe it is you need to sally off for the little pit boys room, and get caught up with some appointed tasks there, with a Guns and Ammo magazine in hand. It is all at the discretion of your most viable pit master instincts. Do what you must.

Mind the clock, however, and after 15 minutes or so, maybe even 20, do sidle out the door and check upon your plunder. If it flakes easily with a fork, it is done. If you’ve really done it right, you will find glorious deposits of yum where the brown sugar caramelized. That blended with the occasional spicy kick from the mustard, and the flavors of salmon and maple wood smoke, oh buddy, do you need a bib yet! You do not even need to flip the fish during the cook, because planking is just that easy. Between the heat shield effect of the plank and keeping the lid on the pit, you have basically created an oven with smoke. Something only found at the pit front, people, under the open skies and fragrant breezes. Beneath waxing moons, and cavorting bird song. Another reason grilling outside blows away the finest kitchen range. And why it is, precisely, we do what we do, patron to the pit. Amen.


Spicy Maple Planked Salmon sided with fried potatoes. Spicy yet sweet, and all good where planking salmon is concerned.

52 responses

  1. Wow! I’ll have to try that! You made it sound so much easier than I expected!

    November 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm

  2. Looks and sounds good enough to almost make me eat salmon!

    November 26, 2013 at 12:08 pm

  3. This looks incredible for Thanksgiving (for the pescatarians at the table.) I love the poetic writing in this post too.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

  4. Planking is my absolute favorite way to grill salmon. I love the maple and mustard glaze. I also am very impressed that your wife caught them.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

  5. Outstanding Work Patrons. I love planked salmon.
    Keep Warm.

    November 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    • Thanks Marcus. Like wise. Planks are just made for salmon it seems. Can hardly go wrong.

      Take care smokey brethren

      November 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm

  6. Shit that is making me so damn hungry. And it’s only 5:50am! Nice work lads!

    November 26, 2013 at 12:51 pm

  7. Oh yes. I just had the pleasure of receiving a box of maple-smoked salmon from a guide friend. This sage character doused the fillets with a maple-brown sugar glaze before smoking them. To Ed and the Patrons of the Pit, I wish a blessed Thanksgiving.

    November 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    • Outstanding! You sure keep the company of fine people! Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving too, TJ.

      Take care,

      November 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

  8. This looks divine! Thanks for sharing!

    November 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm

  9. yummy love it

    November 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm

  10. How did you make your planking better than what I saw? Must be trick photography!

    November 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    • Haha, yeah, I don’t know Richard. Do you fish much for salmon out your way? Judging from what I’ve read on your blog, you’ve put the boat away for the winter about now… And you’ll start itchin’ for fishin’ in another month or so!

      Thanks Richard!

      November 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      • Nope. At my age I fish fair weather only. But I do have a son and friends who keep me supplied when I need a salmon or two.

        November 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

  11. Ahhhh yes … the planking of the Salmon. The fairest of the methods to be sure and my mostest favourite !!
    YUM !!
    The VERY best wishes to you and all my Southern neighbours this Thanksgiving !! CHEERS my Smokie Brother … stay hungry !! 🙂

    November 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    • Hey thank you very much meaty brother to the north, and a like wise thanksgiving to you, iffin Canadians do such things.

      November 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      • Oh yes … we too celebrate the harvest and fellowship with our Native Indian brethren, just a little earlier than you to the South (not sure why that is ) … here’s to the Turkey !!!

        November 26, 2013 at 6:58 pm

  12. Oh and … I TOO am a BIG fan of one Mr. Steve Raichlen … I have a couple of his cookbooks, … my FAVOURITE one being “Ribs, Ribs OUTRAGEOUS Ribs” (plus slaws, sauces, baked beans and more) 298 pages of righteousness (all stuck together from MUCH use!!) Oooooh … stayin’ hungry for sure !! 🙂

    November 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    • I hear you, man. Every recipe I try from that guy is gold. I’ll have to get that rib book. I have the one every one has, the BBQ Bible. My new favorite BBQ book however, is Peace, Love and Barbecue, by Mike Mills – ever read that one yet? Fine reading for the pit and little pit boys room alike.

      I’m always hungry.

      November 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      • Nope … I’ll hafta keep a keen eye out for that one … my motorcycle mags are read and re-read … I’m needing some new “little pit boys room” reading material.
        Incidentally, … I put my motorcycles to bed yesterday … *sigh* … always a sad day … 😦

        November 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

  13. you guys sure do love your maple. and, might i add, you use it well.

    November 26, 2013 at 7:22 pm

  14. Grilling by kerosene lantern – sounds like one of those simple pleasures most are too busy to enjoy or even understand.

    November 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    • You’re probably right, sadly. That’s what I like about you, you notice such things !

      Happy turkey day, Duncan!

      November 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm

  15. laurie27wsmith

    Nice, just nice no opera this week.

    November 26, 2013 at 9:45 pm

  16. Australia. But that’s cool. I was still drooling…

    November 27, 2013 at 2:18 am

  17. debbeedoodles

    Yet another food we have yet to try out…. David needs to get his rear end in gear, this looks awesome!

    November 27, 2013 at 6:25 am

  18. Happy Thanksgiving, guys! I have a question for you. We’re planning on smoking a turkey tomorrow. Can I still brine it in apple cider, orange peel, and spices before it goes on the pit?

    November 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    • Thanks Mrs. Deerslayer! You certainly can brine it ahead of time. Lots of folks do that before they smoke it. I think it tastes fine either way tho, but then, I love meat. You will loved smoked turkey,tho, and probably not do it any other way ever after.

      November 27, 2013 at 10:45 am

      • Yeah, Deerslayer’s dad (rest his soul) used to smoke one mean bird. It’s gonna be great! As long as the smoke is curling, we’ve decided to toss some wild pork roast and shanks on the pit as well. The shanks are AMAZING when used to flavor beans.

        November 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm

  19. A joyous and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from Ecuador, my friend. We will be celebrating with fifty or sixty other ex-pats in San Jacinto tomorrow evening, but I would love to be eating some of that smoked salmon with you!

    We get plenty of fish and seafood here, but no salmon.

    For Christmas I am getting a new big smoker/barbecue and I will try to emulate you POTP folk as often as possible here in the southern hemisphere.

    God Bless!

    November 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    • Alright!! Looking very much forward to hear some of your Ecuadorian grilling adventures. Life will get even better, in Ecuador!

      Happy thanksgiving to you guys too!


      November 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm

  20. Liz

    Happy Thanksgiving, oh neighbors to the southwest 😉 Hats off (though I’ll keep mine on so this is figurative you understand) to you for grilling in these miserable cold temps. I do not have your thick skin nor cave man ways (you wear both characteristics well, btw) nor a plaid flannel smoking jacket (which I’m sure you wear well, too) so I tend to stay inside for cooking and baking. But that plank works indoors, too, yes?

    November 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    • Thanks Liz! You know, not sure about using a plank indoors. If you have a good way to exhaust the smoke outside, then I suppose, lest your smoke alarms get a work out.

      November 28, 2013 at 12:23 am

  21. That looks incredible. I am still mourning the fact that I live in an apartment… I’ve spent the past ten minutes scrawling through your awesome grill recipes. I think I need to invest in some sort of small balcony barbecue for this summer (which is starting tomorrow, here in Australia). Awesome recipe. Love salmon!

    November 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    • Yeah it’s a great recipe. Very tasty. And I feel your apartment dwelling pain. They gotta make some grill our there that is balcony safe. For the joy of BBQ should be available to all those who seek it. They make an infrared grill I know, and electric grills. There is probably a solution to your pickle just around the bend.


      November 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm

  22. I have some Scottish Salmon and cannot think of ANYTHING better to do with it than this! Thanks for the great recipe!

    November 29, 2013 at 7:53 pm

  23. That sounds absolutely delicious, and nice job on the writeup. 🙂 I have a stack of planks but haven’t actually used them yet – looks like I found something to make!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

    • Thanks much! Oh yes, get them planks out of hibernation at once. Its such a cool method of cooking! They work on just about anything, not only fish.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:18 am

  24. Pingback: Healthy Mommy, Happy Baby – Cedar-plank Chipotle Salmon

  25. Pingback: Spicy Maple Planked Salmon | My Meals are on Wheels

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