I gave a talk some time back and there was a “smoker” user in the audience that was quite outspoken. He used his Smoker unit constantly and questioned; “why on earth would I want to use your products?” His smoker used pellets. My answer wasn’t that difficult: “YOU may not want to?” I too use a smoker and love it for those weekend get-together's with family and friends when I have the time to cook for 4-6 hours depending upon what “honey do’s” are waiting for me. But gas and charcoal grills still make up 80% of the BBQ consumer market and I use them on the week days when I don’t have that sort of time (and also when I want that certain flavor). But also, reality is that more and more competition chefs are moving toward adding planks and wraps to their recipes even when cooking on their smokers to get that “something extra”. And I still say that food that touches the surface of the wood gets more flavor.
Again, I love my smoker unit. But the optimum word is “smoke” and I want that same flavor from my BBQ’s. And even with my smoker I prefer placing my meat on a wood surface either on a plank or in a wrap. So, I suggest you try it yourself and see if you agree. If nothing else you will have less clean up since the plank, for instance, will keep the drippings off your grill.
Here are a tip or two to consider:
When first using a soaked plank, place it on the grill alone over direct heat for about 1 minute on each side. This will intensify the flavor and help prevent warping. Once you hear crackling, move the plank to the indirect side of the grill, treat the cooking surface if directed then add your seasoned food, and close the lid tight.
Be sure to buy planks or wraps from a trusted source. Some wood is treated with chemicals to prevent mold, rot, infestation, etc. and that wood can make you sick and taste bitter.
(Regarding soaking; with most recipes you are allowing 20-30 minutes for preparation time as it is. In fact, if you soak with hot water by heating the oven up to 250 degrees or so and placing the planks in some water in an oven baking dish you can stay within that same 20-30 minutes prep time. So, keep that in mind.)