Aug 04

How to NOT Blow Up a Propane Tank

Tonight I attempted cedar plank salmon. I’ve cooked this dish so many times over the years that I can do it in my sleep…or at least when I’m not being stupid. Here’s the story.

Since I worked today, I started the cedar plank soaking before I went to work around 7am. I figured its not possible to over-soak it. I started the process tonight, 12 hours later, as I have done in the past by spreading a little extra virgin olive oil on the plant and placed the salmon on top. I brushed some additional olive oil on top of the fish and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. I fired up the grill and place the plank with the fish on the grates. The wood is perpendicular to the 3 burners on the grill. From left to right, I had the heat medium-low, medium-high and then high. That corresponded to the amount of heat I needed for the fish since the fish was thicker on the right. I closed the grill lid and left it go for awhile. Everything was fine at this point and the smoke was looking good. Then I made a critical mistake. I added more olive oil to the fish since I had some left in my measuring cup that I didn’t want to waste. It was already contaminated with raw fish so what the heck. The extra oil ran off the fish onto the wood on the right side. That coupled with the high heat caught the wood plank on fire. At first, it was only a few small flames and I tried to put them out with the grill tools but it wasn’t working and the flames started to spread. I quickly removed the fish and turned off all the burners and closed the propane tank knob. I put the lid down to help starve the flames of oxygen but that didn’t work either. That was mistake #2. At this point I could hear the wood crackling and I’m seeing flames coming out the back of the grill. The temperature gauge was pegged at the max of 700. I was starting to get worried that the propane tank beneath the grill could have a problem. I moved into the basement and then went upstairs and told Erin the situation while flames and smoke continued to poor out of the grill. She quickly and calmly thought about the hose. The hose!!! Why didn’t I think of that?!? I have hoses on both sides of my house. Very convenient. I quickly made my way to hose and sprayed down the grill and up into the grill from the sides and back to lower the temperature. Once it lowered enough, I raised the lid to find a crispy piece of cedar. It was still smoking and had some bright red embers. I got a bucket of water and transferred the burning wood into it. Crisis averted.

Lessons Learned:
1) Don’t over oil the fish.
2) Don’t crank the burners to high.
3) Don’t close the grill lid if something catches on fire. It just magnifies the heat.
4) Be prepared with a backup plan.
5) I need a fire extinguisher for the basement and another one for the garage.