Mike LangChicken, Grilling, Planking

What's on the Grill #160

Mike LangChicken, Grilling, Planking
Planked Pesto Chicken

Pesto Planked Chicken! Well it's mid February here in southwest Ohio and the thrill of winter and experiencing the "changing of the seasons" is about 12 weeks old. In fact, the last time this cold weather and repeated snow was enjoyable was when it was still Fall, 60 degrees, and this winter imagery was just that, a mental image.

The Sun's Temperature

Nonetheless, the path to the grills is well shoveled and I was able to reset the GFI outlet on the deck which had rendered the deck lightless Thursday and required me at the time to grill by iPhone light. The cold weather has unfortunately stifled my creativity too (of course some will argue I have no creativity, but I will ignore my best friends for now). So, when I glanced at a plank grilling book at a bookstore over the weekend, I thought of adapting something different to the grill and voila, I have tonight's dinner.

Everyone knows I hate boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. I would much rather take a fryer, cut it up/spatchcock it/roto it/whatever, than grill a nondescript breast. In fact, I'm slightly embarrassed Slashfood featured this picture in their Drool Over This feature. So, when I decided to grill chicken tonight, I decided to not only cut it up, but to grill it on a cedar plank.

The extra step that made dinner easy, was the pesto I had frozen in ice cube trays. I can't remember where I picked this hack up, but it has paid off time and time again.

Pesto at the ready

Pesto Planked Chicken

Chicken Fryer cut into pieces


Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Cedar Plank

1. Take your cedar plank and soak it in water for at least an hour. I talk more about planks here.

2. Preheat our grill to medium high

3. Cut up your chicken into pieces.

1 Fryer = 6 pieces of chicken

4. Rub your chicken pieces in olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.

Smoking Plank

5. Place your soaked plank on the grill over direct heat for approximately 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, the plank should start to smoke and burn. Remove it, and turn it over. Place your chicken pieces, equally spaced on the unburned side and return to the grill over low direct heat/medium direct. In other words, maintain a hood temp of 350ish, but keep the plank over burner(s) on low.

Birds on Board

6. I will cook the breasts for approximately an hour over direct low. Because I cut my own planks, they are fairly thick and can take the low heat for an extended amount of time. If you buy thin planks from the store, you may be forced to go into indirect heat so you don't end up with this.

7. During the last 20 minutes of grilling, smother the breasts with pesto.

8. Serve when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.


Pesto is always good on chicken, but the cedar adds a really nice smokey flavor that not only makes this a great dinner, but the base for great pesto chicken salad the next day.