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Cedar Plank Salmon with Roasted Sausage and Potatoes

I love to grill year round. But as the seasons begin to change and cool, I look to richer meats and flavors to round out my evening meals. Salmon is a perfect way to add a rich flavor to your preferred variety of spices, and works as a light textured, yet fulfilling main dish for any side. It also is a healthy choice, and is rich in omega-3’s and other nutrients vital to your overall well-being. For this recipe I paired a 2-pound fresh salmon steak with the earthy flavors found in my garden. Rosemary, garlic, potatoes, and local smoked sausage created a fabulous mixture of aromatics to both cook with, and lend flavor to the entire meal.

What You Need:

This is an incredibly easy way to serve up a fancy looking, and tasty meal that doesn’t require much at all in the way of preparation or cook time. I am not putting in how much of everything you need, although I do describe about how much I used below, because the size of your salmon steak, how many potatoes you make, and your personal taste preferences should very much be a part of this recipe. Just remember, start with a little seasoning, as you can always add more if you need to! Overall Prep Time: 15 – 20 minutes, with a 1 hour Cook Time: Approx 20 -30  minutes

For Salmon:
Mix together in medium bowl –

  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Minced garlic
  • Red pepper flakes

Optional: Add at various times while cooking

  • Rosemary
  • Mozzarella
For Potatoes:
Mix together-

  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Minced onions
  • Crushed rosemary

Add:

  • Sliced smoked sausage

Preparation- At least 1 Hour Prior to Cooking

Your planks need to be prepped, and let’s face it, any food that sits in seasonings for any amount of time just tastes that much better. Honestly this preparation of the food is fast and easy and can even be done the night before if you want.

Step 1: Soak Planks in Water

Unless you want your dinner to go up in flames, you’ll need to soak your cedar planks in water for at least an hour so they can withstand the heat of your grill. This also allows for moisture to release during and help wrap your food in the rich woodsy flavors of the planks it is cooking upon.

What to Remember:

You can always soak your planks in advance. I feel the longer the better, but if you like this technique and do it often, go ahead and soak your planks and then freeze them for immediate use in the future.

Step 2: Mix Salmon Marinade

I love the many marinades you can use on fish, but I’m a sucker for hints of lemon and rich savoriness. Of course how much you use of each of the ingredients is entirely up to you concerning flavor and how big your salmon steak is. For a 2 pound steak I mixed about a third cup of olive oil and then added a tablespoon each of salt, pepper, minced garlic, and red pepper. I then added a liberal helping of fresh lemon juice (about a fourth of a cup). Mix this all together well and let those flavors all infuse together.

What to Remember:

You can always make oil infusions well in advanced, or even heat them lightly before marinade to really infuse those flavors.

Step 3: Marinade Salmon

Place your steak in the smallest pan you can get it to fit into so it can really sit in the marinade well. I had a pretty thick cut and some of it sat well above the oil infusion, and so I brushed it over the salmon a few times and drizzled it over the top to make sure it got well covered. Cover and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook. I suggest leaving it for at least an hour or more to really allow those flavors to meld well.

What to Remember:

The oil will adhere well to your salmon, so feel free to sprinkle a bit more of the seasonings on top for personal preferences as it will stick good for when you place it on the grill.

Step 4: Prep and Season Potatoes

Once your salmon is tucked away in the fridge, you can prepare the potatoes as well. Since they both cook for the same amount of time, having them all ready to place in their respective cooking spots makes it easy to have nice hot food served all at the same time. You can use any kind of potatoes you want for this. I used some baby roasters and purple potatoes we grew in the garden this year. They both have a very light flavor and take on seasoning well. I cut half inch cubes and then tossed them with olive oil, crushed ground rosemary from garden, salt and pepper to taste, a little garlic powder, and some fine minced onions. Cover these as well and place in the fridge until ready to cook.

What to Remember:

Go easy on the salt, because if you place sausage over the top, those drippings will cook into your potatoes as well to add flavor. You can always add salt again later if you need to.

When you Are Ready to Cook:

As mentioned, let everything sit and infuse for at least an hour while your planks soak. I just cover and place everything back in the fridge for this time period. You can, of course allow your salmon and potatoes to marinade for much longer if you like, and could even prep the day ahead to just grab and cook when ready since the cook time is fairly short. You should cook both the potatoes and the salmon simultaneously as they both take about the same amount of time. You can either do this on the grill, or place the potatoes in the oven. I prefer the oven because I can better check the tenderness of the potatoes and give them a toss without opening the grill and losing too much heat off the salmon. Light grill and pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

Step 5: Place Potatoes and Sausage in Oven Uncovered

Layer your potatoes in one layer to ensure even roasting and cut up sausage over the top. Be sure to bake uncovered to allow the potatoes to crisp up for about 20 to 30 minutes in a 450 degree oven. I always include a local smoked sausage in my recipes if fish is being served as a main course. The reason behind this started with my two young boys who, on occasion, will suddenly decide what they loved last week isn’t what they love this week. And so to make it easier for me, I would just toss a cut of smoked sausage on the grill as well; until I had the great idea to start adding it to the recipes themselves because they add so much flavor to food.

What to Remember:

Depending on the sausage you use, you may want to wait until the potatoes are halfway done before adding them. Pre-cooked sausage will ‘roast’ as well and may become too brown to your taste otherwise.

Step 6: Place Salmon, on Plank, in Grill

Depending on the size of your steak, you may need to use more than one plank to cook upon. I had to place two planks side by side to accommodate the size of the fish, which worked out quite well. I drizzled the rest of the oil over the salmon also after placing it on the wood. You’ll only want to cook for about 20 minutes as the planks can begin to dry out and light on fire if you leave them in there for too long. Generally it isn’t a major catastrophe and if this happens only the edges might start to burn. As long as you notice right away, the fish will be just fine and it is easy to put out the flames with just a little water poured along the edges. Check your fish at about 15 minutes and again at 20 to see how far along it is. Then check every few minutes until it is at your desired tenderness. The thicker the steak, the longer it will take to cook.

What to Remember:

Oil is flammable, and although everything is nice and safe in the grill, you don’t want to get too crazy and have oil everywhere as it will burn off and may create a very smoky experience for a little while.

Step 7: Add Rosemary For Smoking Flavor

Not everyone likes rosemary, but I assure you that it really does lend a TON of flavor to your salmon, and eating the actual leaves isn’t needed for this (as I have to assure my children). Just crush them up a little and place on top so their oils can release while you cook.

What to Remember:

If you toss some of the rosemary branches underneath to burn, it will release a very strong smell as well and smoke into the meat.

Step 8: Add Some Fresh Mozzarella

Contrary to popular belief, cheese and fish actually do pair well together. I love to add a little fresh mozzarella right before I take the salmon off the grill. Mozzarella is a very light cheese that melts well so you only need a little overall. It also can help hold in the moisture and flavors of your olive oil infusion.

What to Remember:

Mozzarella is not a very salty cheese either and also easily takes in the smoky infusion of the herbs and spices used. The texture is light enough to work well with a flavorful fish such as salmon.

Step 9: Check For Your Preferred ‘Pink’

Salmon, like red meats, can be cooked to varying degrees on ‘doneness’. Salmon is naturally pink, but when cooked all the way through takes on a lighter pink color, and also flakes very easily apart. You can cook it less for a darker pink center, but I do not recommend cooking it longer as it will dry out. Overall, my salmon cooked for a half hour due to its size and thickness. Just keep an eye on it as it cook and take it off the grill as soon as it is approaching your desired taste as it will continue to cook off the grill due to the heat on the meat.

What to Remember:

No matter what your preference is, you should cook your meat to at least 145 degrees internally for safety reasons. Heat helps to kill any organisms that may be found within your fish. If you like your salmon a little rare be aware that even though it isn’t often that an organism-contaminated salmon is found, it does happen.

Step 10: Remove Potatoes From Oven

You probably should have checked your potatoes or even tossed them a time or two. But even if you haven’t, it’s not that big of a deal as cooking in a single layer should allow them to crisp nicely. Once you know your salmon is done, you can remove your potatoes from the oven as well.

What to Remember:

Potatoes can handle a little bit of extra time in the oven if your salmon required more time as well. Just turn the heat off and let them sit in there until ready to serve.

Step 11: Serve on Plank

My favorite part of using cedar planks (besides the awesome flavor they infuse into the fish) is that you can serve your meal right on top of them. Your plank should have charred up a little underneath which is what lends the great smoky taste to the salmon, so I simply place it right on top of a plate so I don’t make a charcoal mess on the table. The wood cools quickly and you can either use the whole thing as a serving board for a large piece of salmon, as I did, or you can just dig right in!

What to Remember:

The bottom of your planks will be hot when you take it off the grill, so I suggest sliding them off onto a sheet pan, or plate, to allow them to cool before you touch them.

Enjoy!

If you are looking to pair this meal with a wine, a Rose is a great choice that lends a balance between a red and white that helps bring out the earthy tones of the recipe. It also has a dryness that compliments the complex flavors of the salmon well. My final parting suggestion to this recipe is to use as fresh a steak as possible to ensure you are getting the flavors of the herbs and spices and not the oils of the fish from sitting too long. Since salmon is a fish rich in many healthy benefits, adding it into your diet is definitely worthwhile. We would love to hear of your experiences with this recipe, or even of your own favorite grilled salmon recipes, below. And, as always, please share!

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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