Planking 101

No this is not the fad of planking where I lie down on my belly in weird places, nor does it have to do with the dynamic planks we perform at the gym for overall toning and conditioning. This kind of planking has to do with wood planks. More specifically the red oak planks my Dad cut for me two summers ago. The initial intention was to make gifts, which I did. The gift boards were sanded and buffed, stamped with “Big Red Kitchen”, and finished with a butcher block conditioner. They were so pretty.  Then I started using all the different length planks for other things…

picnic planks

PICNICS-  Dad and I decided to make varying length planks, as in a few 3 foot, 2 foot, 1 foot, and 6 inch lengths. Each plank is 8 inches wide.  These longer planks you see in the photo I had used for a picnic and placed them up on tomato cans to give my buffet dimension.  They were perfect for the cheese flight and pressed sandwiches I was serving that day for a wine tasting.

ENTERTAINING- Lately I have been using my planks for entertaining. I have been stylizing appetizers, salads, and desserts on them for a casual, rustic feel to my meals.  I enjoy the  back to basics “earthiness” these red oaks add to my table.  It seems that I have the right size platter all the time now.

Here’s Dad cutting my planks for me. I can’t remember how much each red oak board cost, but really they are pretty economical when compared to my “good” platters that I constantly worry about breaking. Not these, in fact the more banged up they get the better they look.  I do treat them occasionally with Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner, a food-grade wood conditioner. The planks I am currently using, I have not even sanded and they are still so pretty.  You may want to sand down the sharp corners if you like.

Scottish Smoked Salmon Plank

SPECIAL EVENTS- Last weekend we went to the Virginia Scottish Games and I wanted to bring some Fancy Food. You know, foods that are a bit nicer than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I went with Scottish smoked salmon, capers, red onion, and cream cheese topped with dill, along with some flat breads. I designed the plank and wrapped it well with plastic wrap, and it travelled perfectly. This Salmon Plank was quite elegant for the event and went perfectly with the late Riesling I had paired with it. Although the late harvest Rieslings are a bit sweet, I call them my hot weather wines. The Riesling nicely offset the salty, smokey, salmon which was exactly what we needed in the 90 degree heat.

Planking 101
1. Choose a nice hard wood like red oak or maple.
2. Cut the wood to any length you desire.
3. Sand any rough edges.
4. Prior to use, treat the planks with “Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner” and repeat as needed.
5. Do not wash your planks in the dishwasher, but instead use warm mildly soapy water, and dry immediately.
6. To keep your serving planks looking nice, avoid using them as cutting boards. But that is up to you as they do make nice cutting boards too.
7. When travelling with your planks, stylize the foods on the plank, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a cooler. For larger planks, you will have to place the food on the planks when you get to your destination since they are too big for coolers.
8.  To give your buffet dimension, place the planks on pretty cans of tomatoes or other large cans for a rustic look.
9. I like to place sheets of waxed paper down on some of my planks, for example, on planks that will hold oily foods such a smoked salmon, salamis, or certain cheeses.
10. Planking is great for any indoor affair but are especially nice for tailgating, barbecues, and picnics, as they are very sturdy for outdoor entertaining.


  1. Dad
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    The planks remind me of your great uncle Harold. I asked him if you can eat carp? He said yes, you clean it, place it on a plank, use every spice in the kitchen, cook it in the oven, and when it is done, throw the fish away and eat the plank! I had fun helping with those planks.

    • Robin Sue
      Posted September 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Permalink

      Ha! Carp are ugly and yucky. I think these planks have been some of the most practical tools in my kitchen! Thanks Dad!

  2. Stephanie
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    Love this idea! I may have to try to make some when I am stateside.

  3. Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    Another great idea from the BRK!

  4. Posted September 11, 2012 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

    I love this idea and will plan to make some except I’ll have to put my saw on a table – I can’t stoop like your dad

  5. Posted September 16, 2012 at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    Great idea Robin Sue. You are always thinking up great stuff. David buys untreated cedar planks from the big box store to cook our salmon on, but it never occurred to me to make keepable planks. Will get him on it. ‘Thanks.

  6. Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    Love this idea!!!!!

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