Ever have a favorite recipe…that you forget?
Years ago, my go to appetizer was cedar plank Camembert. I'd pull a smoking plank with a big round of cheese off of the grill, and amaze my guests. "What do you mean, you're grilling the cheese?"
I stopped making it. I don't know why; it just drifted out of my memory.
Last month Christopher Kimball talked about secret Thanksgiving recipes on NPR. His favorite appetizer? Brie with Honey and Thyme, microwaved until bubbling. A simple version of my old favorite.
*My favorite part of the show? Mr. Kimball made cornflake stuffing. Yes, stuffing made out of breakfast cereal. Why make cornbread just for stuffing, when you can substitute cornflakes?
That wasn't the favorite part. Asked if he'd confess, he said "I would lie, of course. The prerogative of the cook is, when someone asks what's in it, you don't have to tell the truth."
I know what my Christmas appetizer will be. And maybe New Year's as well. Sure, I could use the microwave, but you know me - the grill will already be fired up. I'm going back to my old standby, and plank grilling some cheese.
Recipe: Plank Grilled Brie with Honey and Thyme
Adapted From: Chris Kimball, Thanksgiving Secrets; Steven Raichlen Beer Can Chicken (and other offbeat recipes for the grill)
Cook time: 25 minutes
- Grill (I use a Weber Summit Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Maple Grilling Plank, roughly 6 inches by 6 inches
- 1 (8 ounce) brie round (5 inches in diameter)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme (1 large sprig)
1. Soak the plank:
Soak the plank for at least one hour, up to overnight. Weigh down to keep it submerged; I use my honey bear.
2. Prepare the grill:
Set the grill for indirect high heat cooking. On my Weber Summit, I preheat the grill for 15 minutes with all the burners on high, then I turn off all the burners except 1 and 3, and put the plank over unlit burner #2 (This leaves burners 4-6 available to cook something else). I want an internal temperature of 450*F, higher if I can get it.
3. Prepare the cheese:
While the grill preheats, remove the plank from the water and pat dry. Carefully slice the rind from the top of the brie round. Leave the rind on the sides and bottom of the brie. Put the round on the plank, cut side up. Drizzle the honey on top of each round, then sprinkle with the thyme.
4. Cook the cheese:
Put the plank on the grill over indirect heat. Cook with the lid closed for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sides of the brie are softened and brown.
Transfer the plank to a heat-proof platter and let it cool down for five minutes. Serve with crackers and a spoon for scooping.
*If you have a larger plank, say 6 inches by 12 inches, cook two brie rounds.
*Brie and Camembert are interchangeable in this recipe.
*Different toppings: Top the honey with berries, or replace the honey with your favorite jam, jelly, or chutney. Steven Raichlen's original was for Camembert with peach chutney.
*Chris Kimball microwaved the brie in his version. Skip the plank and the grill - put the brie round on a plate and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble.
*Leave the rind. Slicing the top is optional; some consider the rind the best part of the brie, and don't want to lose the top piece. Slicing the top off makes it easy to scoop the gooey center of the brie onto crackers; if the top is still on it has to be sliced. Either way, make sure to eat the rind - it is delicious. (I eat the sliced top as a chef's treat while I'm preparing the cheese).
*If you're having a problem finding maple planks, any fruit wood (apple, cherry) is a good substitute. Cedar planks work, and are easiest to find, but I like maple smoke with cheese.
*I put the plank on a heat-proof platter to contain the ashes on the bottom of the plank and protect the table from any heat.
*While grilling the plank you will occasionally hear a loud popping noise. This is normal.
*That said…keep an eye on the grill, watching for smoke. A little smoke is what you want; if you see smoke pouring out of the grill, the plank is on fire. Use tongs to move the plank away from direct flames on the grill, and the plank should extinguish itself.
*I had a runny honey problem; Winnie the Pooh would approve. My honey crystallized; I microwaved it to loosen it up. Unfortunately, I overdid it - my honey was so thin it rolled over the sides of the cheese and onto the plank. That's OK - this is one of those recipes where, even if it turns into a mess, still tastes and looks great.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Chris Kimball, Thanksgiving Secrets [NPR.org]
Steven Raichlen Beer Can Chicken (and other offbeat recipes for the grill)
aFire Mini Sugar Maple Grilling Planks
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