Plastic wrap in the oven
- Sean Dell
I have a knotty little problem, and I suspect I'm doing something wrong.
In Susanne Goin's wonderful book, she talks about using plastic wrap on the top of a braising pot, and then putting the whole lot in the oven. Sensing that this is a counter-intuitive move, she says 'It really works!'.
Except that it didn't for me, yesterday.
I was making a beef stew with chocolate (see last week's board), which turned out to be a complete winner. But not before I had a minor heart attack.
I prepped everything, then put the plastic wrap across the top of my copper braiser, then topped it with the lid, which is reasonably heavy (Susanne calls for aluminum foil). Next time I checked everything, about an hour later, the wrap had disintegrated. There it was sitting on top of the liquid, in one piece, so I was able to fish it out. There was no remnant of the wrap that was outside the pot.
Any thoughts, expert ones?
a couple of things. Most plastic wraps can't tolerate any kind of heat like that. As far as I know, the only one that can is the original saran wrap - it's much thicker than other brands. However, even that, if I remember correctly, can't go above 250. (it's used by some BBQers for certain smoking applications where the temps are around 225).
Regardless, in my oven, where temps fluctuate anyway, I don't see much reason not to use aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap for a braise... You can make a pretty tight seal of foil, then top with the lid, if you'd like. I think the differences between that and a 100 percent perfect seal would be negligible...
I always use plastic wrap (commercial junk, not Saran) under alum foil for any casseroles I bake that have tomato in them, otherwise the acid pits the foil and I'm afraid I'm eating pure aluminum. Never had a problem; as a mattter of fact it cooks up better than just foil as it's sealed up real tight. Just be careful when you open that the steam doesn't get you, and don't leave lots of extra length hanging over as those parts will melt. Never tried with a metal lid though.
For what its worth, Molly Stevens in her book on braising describes using parchment to help make a seal. I too wonder how necessary this is.
You used a heavy copper lid (on a copper pot) instead of light foil that was directed.
I would use foil under that lid.
Oy vey! If you read somewhere to cover a casserole with aluminum foil before heating it in the nuker, you gonna do that too?
Recipes are like the internet, somethings are true and others are not.