“Mommmm! Dad just put a piece of wood on the barbecue!” Jared yells in the kitchen door. “Is he supposed to do that?” He’s clearly horrified. “Yeah, it’s for the chicken,” I answer. “Don’t worry.”
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
750 g skinless, boneless chicken breasts, (4 to 6)
First, you’ll need a ¼ in (1 cm) thick untreated cedar plank. You can often find cedar planks for sale near the fish counter of the supermarket. If not, buy a length of cedar board at a building supply store – but make sure it has not been chemically treated. A plank approximately 8 x 12 in (20 x 30 cm) is ideal, but you can probably get away with slightly smaller, if necessary.
At least 1 hour before you want to begin cooking (or as long as a day ahead), submerge the plank in a bucket of clean water. Weigh it down with a brick or a rock to keep it submerged – you want the wood to soak up some water so that it smokes, rather than burns, when you put it on the grill.
Meanwhile, mix together the orange juice, honey, mustard, pepper and garlic. Pour over the chicken breasts in a bowl or zip-top plastic bag and let marinate, refrigerated, for an hour or two, or as long as overnight.
When you're ready to cook, preheat the barbecue to high. Brush one side of the soaked cedar plank with oil and place directly onto the grill, oiled side up. Close the cover, and let it heat up until the plank makes crackly sounds and begins to smoke. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade) and arrange on the plank. Lower the heat to medium, close the lid of the barbecue, and let cook for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once about halfway through. (A meat thermometer poked into the centre of a chicken breast should read 165°F/74°C.) If the plank catches fire during the cooking time, use a squirt gun or spray bottle to extinguish flames.
Remove chicken from plank and serve immediately. (Immerse plank in a bucket of water to stop burning. Discard afterwards.)