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May 25, 2009 04:45 PM

Plastic Wrap to Line a Terrine?!

I bought a beautiful book this weekend on making terrines of all types--veg., seafood, meat, cheese, dessert, traditional and unusual. (Terrine by Stephane Reynaud, Phaidon) It is full of things that look gorgeous and delicious. HOWEVER, many of the recipes dictate using plastic wrap to line the terrine, which is then cooked in a water bath in a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. This seems like insanity to me. Does the water bath somehow moderate the temperature effect on the plastic wrap too? It is a British book--does British "cling film" have a higher melting point? I am not really wiling to test this out on my Le Creuset terrine. I'm picturing plastic melted to the inside forever. Thoughts? Intelligence? Parchment paper instead?

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  1. The terrine (I mean the pan itself) lined with plastic wrap, then filled, then baked in a water bath, does not get all that hot. The plastic wrap does not get glued onto the pan forevermore. It sort of shrivels a bit. Whether or not it gets hot enough for chemicals to leach out into the food, somebody with some knowledge will have to answer that question.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmnewel

      So you've used this method before? I am just skeptical as I have read that plastic wrap's melting point is ~250 degrees. So while the water bath will moderate the temperature, it seems odd that it would be able to moderate the temperature by 100 degrees. Do you cook yours at a lower temperature than 350?

    2. The plastic wrap doesn't get too hot. I know. Very hard to believe. To be honest, the only reason to use anything is if you want to remove the terrine from the cooking vehicle and "present" it on a platter. If you plan to cut your slices in the terrine and serve one slice at a time, you can skip the plastic [assuming there is lots of fat in the recipe.]

      1. The water bath shouldn't even reach the boiling point, so there shouldn't be any danger of melting plastic wrap, but the sorts of terrines and pates that I'm likely to make are much more likely to be wrapped in something tasty like pancetta, speck, or prosciutto, which don't require plastic wrap. I've put quenelles in plastic wrap in boiling water to test a pate or sausage mix, and the plastic doesn't melt.

        You can also get terrine molds with removable pins that allow you to remove the sides without risk of breaking the molded pate.

        1. I make boudin and all-meat sausages and often just double roll it in "cling film" to make simple sausage casing. I then simmer the sausage in a skillet of boiling water with no melting of the film at all. It won't hurt your precious La Creuset; honest...

          6 Replies
          1. re: KiltedCook

            I'll tell you what--the thing that spooked me was a post on a blog about making a flourless chocolate cake. Same method: water bath, 350F. The plastic melted to the inside of her cake pan and she had to throw it out. So... As I said above, boiling water is not my concern (since it's below the melt point of plastic wrap, 250).

            1. re: Sallie

              i've seen many threads wherein hounds talk about oven cooking ribs wrapped in plastic then foil.

              1. re: alkapal

                Wrapping ribs with plastic wrap then foil works very nicely.

              2. re: Sallie

                If you are going to make a chocolate flourless torte what works well is to remove the bottom of a springform pan and trace the circle on parchment then cut it out. Rub the sides and bottom lightly with butter, assemble the pan, stick the parchment circle on the bottom, butter the top of that and then toss some flour into the pan and swirl it around until every thing is very lightly coated with flour.
                Now you could argue that you no longer truly have a "flourless" torte but this method works well unless there is a reason you can not consume any flour.

                1. re: Fritter

                  Yes, am familiar with this method. The reason that I mentioned the cake was that the temperature set-up was the same for this person's cake recipe as for the terrine recipes and the plastic wrap melted to her pan. So am not entirely sure that it is fool-proof.

                  1. re: Sallie

                    Some brands of plastic wrap do not hold up however I have never seen any brand melt so bad at the temps listed here that you would ever need to throw a pan away. Typically it just shrivels and when it cools you can peel it right off.
                    Stick with a major brand and you won't have any issues.

            2. I have cooked a number of pates in my LC terrine, and have never used plastic wrap. In my experience (including making a terrine of foie gras), the pate shrinks from the pan a little, and pops right out when I want to remove it. If I were making one that just got chilled, rather than cooked, I would line it to make removal easier.

              8 Replies
              1. re: MMRuth

                I'm making Elizabeth David's Chicken Liver Paté this afternoon for a dinner party at the weekend, and I plan to use a tip I picked up from Simon Hopkinson. He uses those silver foil trays that you get Indian and Chinese takeaways in, the ones with the cardboard lids. (Page 89 of Week In, Week Out, if you're interested. It means that they're very easy to turn out, and you can stack one on top of the other for weighting purposes).

                I tried to buy a terrine today and failed - for some reason they are quite hard to find (in England). Does noone make homemade terrines any more?

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Polcyn and Ruhlman in their book, _Charcuterie_, suggest that in their experience the vessel doesn't really matter, particularly for a terrine that's cooked in the oven in a bain marie. The Le Creuset terrine has become an industry standard, they write, and the break-apart pans can be convenient particularly for a long narrow terrine that might break easily when unmolded, or if you like the decorative pattern of the mold, but they are by no means necessary. Liverwurst and sausages of that type are pates that are often poached in an inedible plastic or cellulose casing. I've used aluminum foil pans. Normally I use narrow metal loaf pans.

                  1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                    i have the le creuset terrine, but i'd suggest a loaf pan, too.

                  2. re: greedygirl

                    That is a good tip. When I was in London, I saw them at Divertimenti in Marylebone High Street:


                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I saw one there too, but it was probibitively expensive. I will probably pick one up in France in a few week's time.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I love that shop, but the prices make me weep!

                  3. re: MMRuth

                    This has been my experience when I make meat pates, too. The ones he suggested using the plastic wrap for were more like quenelle consistency, cheeses, fish mousses, etc. I think it's as much for structural integrity in the unmolding as anything else. Haven't tried it yet...