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By Tim O’Dell, Chili Dawg’s Foods of Fire

I have written in the past about the true joy of smoking various foods like pork, ribs, wings, brisket or vegetables. I have also written about the joy of the chase for number one, Grand Champion on the barbecue circuit. But not everyone enjoys smoking as it can take a long time and it is more technical than what people want to tackle in today’s rushed society. Taking the kids to practice, going to their concerts, ball games or other school functions can eat up so much of your time. You need a quick alternative to smoking.

Grilling IS a great option! Whether it is with a fast start charcoal grill or a gas/propane grill, this approach can deliver a great result and not eat up a boatload of time.

When I get home from a late day at the office I may not always have the time to fire up the smoker to prepare a great smoked meal. But I will often have time to fire up my grill to cook some great steak, chicken, pork and vegetables.

One approach to cooking on a grill is planking. I cook salmon, walleye and halibut on planks of cedar, maple, cherry or hickory. The result is a great tasting fish with the awesome flavor of the wood that you chose. Planking is easy. You typically need to soak your wood for a few hours. Often you can begin soaking them in water before you leave for work, so that when you come home your planks are ready for the grill.

I often experiment with different rubs to compliment the type of wood I plank with. I also use different herbs to garnish my meat or fish product as it cooks on the plank. Depending upon the temperature you are grilling at, the only thing you need to have handy when planking is a spray water bottle to put out an infrequent flame. Planks are made of wood and when you cook at higher temperatures, the wood may dry and then flame up on the sides. No problem as you have most likely soaked them for several hours before your cook. It is just the edges you have to be concerned with. Planking is fun, you should try it.

I will often times fire up my grill to make breakfast on the weekends. Eggs, bacon, hash browns and vegetables are fabulous when done on the grill, especially a charcoal grill. The flavor is simply enhanced by the smoke from the charcoal and we always try new recipes for different styles of food.

Barbecue continues to grow in its scope and reach. Where do you go to get your planks, other supplies and learn of great recipes or perhaps get great grilling recipe books from the best cooks in the country?

If you are new to the barbecue world, where would you go to get some help in picking the right grill for your experience level? Or at least be able to talk to people who do it all of the time?

Though you can buy these products at big box stores and chain stores, specialty stores offer a great alternative. The personnel at these specialty stores can give great advice on rubs to use, charcoal, sauces and methods. They can provide you with a jump start as this is their field of expertise. These stores and their personnel should be used as a resource for the barbeque novice and the experts.

Other methods also deserve some exploration but for now, let’s just say that grilling is a great option!

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