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Wrapping meat in plastic wrap, to oven roast

Tip found in today's newspaper. Does anyone do this? I just can't wrap my head around the fact that the plastic would not melt.

10. Here's a nifty method for slow-cooking ribs and pork butts. Wrap the meat with plastic wrap, then again with foil and slow roast in the oven. The plastic wrap traps in all moisture and does not melt. For ribs, add sauce and finish off on the grill - without the wrap, of course. If making pulled pork, allow the meat to cool slightly before tearing into pieces.

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  1. If you use commercial grade wrap it won't melt up to 450*, I've never put it directly on the meat like that but I think it would work with foil around it. We use it in the kitchen to seal off hotel pans that have tomato sauces or for holding Mashed potatos that will eat through foil alone. First layer wrap, top layer foil. Be extremely careful when you unwrap it, steam burns are the worst there are.

    1. plastic wrap is not going into asny oven at casa jfood

      8 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        I'm with jfood. I'm freaking out as is about all the stuff in plastic that's supposedly killing us, I don't want to help it along by applying heat.

        1. re: StrawbrryF

          >>"I'm freaking out as is about all the stuff in plastic that's supposedly killing us"<<

          As noted below, a foil layer provides adequate protection.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            It's not providing adequate protection from the plastic touching the meat! Just because something doesnt melt, doesn't mean it doesn't leach.

            1. re: StrawbrryF

              Completely agree. I don't need to hold in moisture that badly.

              1. re: foiegras

                We use large turkey oven bags, they are made for the oven. I agree with mrbigshotno1. It would work fine with the foil.

            2. re: alanbarnes


              Or should that be ROFL-MEOW?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  ya, cat looks real happy with that foil helmet........

            3. I've seen this mentioned before in a food network recipe. Some of the reviewers said it melted, others said it worked excellently. I just stick with foil and no plastic wrap, I couldn't ever get up the nerve to try it.

              1 Reply
              1. The plastic must be covered with foil to keep it from melting...they do it all the time in restaurants...

                17 Replies
                1. re: Cherylptw

                  R u kidding. Does foil have some magical anti-melting quality? :-))

                  1. re: jfood

                    Yes it does, it insulates while not absorbing any heat at all. Just be careful to cover every bit or the exposed film will burn onto the pan. The film keeps everything inside very moist, I always do lasagna this way and that's why mine is so moist, end to end.

                    1. re: coll

                      Your foil must be different from jfood. If the foil insulates the plastic, then how does the heat get to the top of the lasgne? This is totally nonsensical, but if it works for you, go for it. Jfood finds the foil alone does a great job and to quote your last clause "that's why mine is so moist, end to end." Looks like a po-tay-toe and po-tah-toe sorta thing.

                      1. re: jfood

                        It insulates the plastic from melting, but transfers the heat to the dish. Not nonsensical, and I would never use just foil because I find the acidity of the tomato sauce causes visible leaching of the foil. My foil IS probably different than yours, I use restaurant grade but doubt that changes anything. I top my lasagna with sauce and some parm, I'm guessing you use mozz on top so you don't have that problem, but foil alone will never seal in the moisture like film. Feel free to do as you wish, but don't knock something you've never even tried.
                        I used to do it your way before I worked in the restaurant trade and I find this method to be superior for consistant results.

                        1. re: coll

                          "It insulates the plastic from melting, but transfers the heat to the dish" unless there is some magic involved, the heat will be exactly equal on the plastic as the top of the lasagne. How might it transfer the heat from the foil through the platic to the lasagne otherwise.

                          Plus jfood will NOT try such a concept given the warning on both Saran and Glad wrap.

                          From http://www.glad.com/faqs/plasticwrap.php

                          Q - Is it okay to use GLAD Cling Wrap when reheating food in a conventional oven?
                          A - No, GLAD Cling Wrap, like all plastic wraps, is not suitable to use in conventional ovens.

                          From http://www.saranbrands.com/faq.asp

                          Q - Can Saran ™ Plastic Wraps be used in the oven?

                          A - No, Saran ™ Wraps are not for use in conventional ovens, browning units, toaster ovens, or on stovetops.

                          Jfood also knocks playing Russian Roulette but there are many who have survived that little game as well.

                          Guess we will agree to disagree on this one. C'est la vie.

                          1. re: jfood

                            They're talking about using it plain,not with foil, I believe. Totally different situations.

                            1. re: coll

                              You seem so convinced that jfood may give it a try with a small lasagne, you know just in case.

                              1. re: jfood

                                Cool ;-) Hope you become a convert.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  It certainly works, j, but you have all of that plastic crap leaching into your food No thinks!.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    It may or may not leach harmful compounds into the food. Some of these posts approach this possible danger as a foregone conclusion. Does anyone have any definitive scientific data on this? "No thinks", indeed!

                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      jfood grew up under the shadow of Esso refinery in NJ inhaling exhaust fumes from the plant. Leaching is upside.

                          2. re: coll

                            But I like those crispish, slightly burnt bits at the edges of lasagna!

                            1. re: BobB

                              Then definitely don't use this method, there will be none.

                          3. re: jfood

                            if you watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives you will see them using plastic wrap and then a layer of foil over roasting pans to seal the moisture in. Its very common and very safe.

                            1. re: Kelli2006

                              I've seen Jacques Pepin making casing-less sausage by tightly rolling the meat mix in plastic wrap, twisting and tying the ends to form a taught cylinder, then wrapping the whole thing in foil and poaching. If plastic wrap has HIS seal of approval, I consider the argument settled. However, I'd use the good stuff, like Glad or Saran, and not a generic, thinner wrap.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                He's a chef on TV, not a scientist, doctor, or health expert ...

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  poaching temps max out at 212 degrees. Ovens can get much hotter

                          4. 100% SOP in many recipes. It works, period. If you've eaten in a restaurant, you've had food wrapped in plastic, then foil.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: dmd_kc

                              "If you've eaten in a restaurant, you've had food wrapped in plastic, then foil."

                              I've eaten in a restaurant before.
                              And I may have had food wrapped in plastic and cooked in an oven.
                              ... And maybe a bug or two in my salad..
                              ...And maybe some sand in my leeks...
                              ...And maybe eaten something that had previously been dropped on the floor...

                              But I am not going to try and duplicate that at home.

                              1. re: lisagambino

                                I think you should frequent some different restaurants ;-)

                              2. re: dmd_kc

                                No restaurant I ever worked in used plastic wrap in direct contact with food when cooking. I probably would have been sent to the dish pit for even suggesting it!! Covering mise en place, fine. But not in the way described above.

                              3. I have been making my ribs like this for years. I don't use foil, only the plastic and it never melts. The ribs really do get steamed and are falling off the bone. I didn't notice the oven temp, but I cook them at 275 for two hours...take off the plastic, put on the grill for about 20 minutes with sauce....perfect!!

                                1 Reply
                                1. This method essentially steams the ribs or pork butt. You can get that effect in a tightly-covered pot on a very slow stovetop (or in a slow cooker). Why rev up the oven and why do something with plastic wrap that grosses you out even if other people swear by it?

                                  When I slow-cook ribs or a fresh ham (for pulled pork) it's in the oven on a rack, over a baking pan of hot water (similar to doing Chinese roast pork). I get great results and there's no plastic (nor throw-away foil) involved.

                                  I've seen plastic wrap combined with foil, used to seal in moisture in the restaurant. Indeed, it doesn't melt, even at substantial holding temperatures. But I'm very concerned about the news lately that heating plastics (whether in microwave or oven) leads to the plastics leeching carcinogens.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: shaogo

                                    I believe Sam Fujisaka recently gave a scientific explanation of how it is impossible for plastic polymers to leach out of film, and anyway I don't believe this leeching theory has been proven as of yet. I think it started with one of those weird chain emails and now everyone believes it.

                                  2. Personally, I would never do this; the foil does an adequate job, and plastic wrap should only be used in the microwave.

                                    Think maybe this one was planted by the makers of Saran Wrap?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jmckee

                                      No it works, and restaurants don't use Saran Wrap brand.

                                    2. I've done it and it works.

                                      I can't attest to what chemicals may or may not leech into the food but the method works well.

                                      IMHO, if you're worried about those chemicals leeching into your food, you'd best wear a respirator when you go outside. That air we're breathing these days is enough to kill you some days.


                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        I've done it too, professionally, and it works.

                                        If posters have concerns about risk of transfer of plasticizers, specifically vinyl choride, use a non-PVC alternative, like LDPE, low density polyethylene. Glad Cling or Handi-Wrap and Saran Premium Wrap are based on LDPE, although the LDPE stuff is not as good for protecting flavor and aroma and as an oxygen barrier as good old PVC. Not as clingy, either.
                                        Move away from the PVC and everything will be fine.

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                          thanks for the tip B, but there is an even better suggestion, leave platic out of the oven, thereby no chance of anything transferring.

                                          have a great holiday season

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            I used the plastic wrap for sealing hotel pans, as described by mrbigshot, in a professional setting. I would not think of using it for wrapping and slow roasting, not in bushwickgirl's kitchen. I do agree, however, that the pork butt wrapping technique is solid and the results would be good, if not deadly.

                                            Have a great holiday season as well, all the best to you and yours!

                                      2. YES it absolutely works. I've done it for years with stuffed chicken breasts. roll it up tight and it creates a roll when cooked that will not fall apart.

                                        1. Why would you want to do that... the wrap may not melt but you'd be giving the meat a nice infusion of chemicals when it heated up! Foil traps moisture too, and it doesn't off-gas.

                                          1. I actually tried this over the weekend and it did not work. maybe you all can help me. I had slices of roast beef in gravy in a ceramic dish. I covered the top of the dish with plastic and then foil. I put it in a 325 oven and took it out about 45 mins later. Plastic had melted to the pan (sides) and foil (top). There was no cover over the food and the top was dried out (leading me to believe it melted in the first few minutes). I was using Glad Cling Wrap. Any thoughts / tips / suggestions?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: jenhen2


                                              From http://www.glad.com/faqs/plasticwrap.php

                                              Q - Is it okay to use GLAD Cling Wrap when reheating food in a conventional oven?
                                              A - No, GLAD Cling Wrap, like all plastic wraps, is not suitable to use in conventional ovens.

                                              From http://www.saranbrands.com/faq.asp

                                              Q - Can Saran ™ Plastic Wraps be used in the oven?

                                              A - No, Saran ™ Wraps are not for use in conventional ovens, browning units, toaster ovens, or on stovetops

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                I don't want heated plastic touching my food, ever. I'm even trying to figure out how to use less and less stuff that comes from the store in plastic containers cold or room temp.

                                                Chemicals leach into foods and liquids including endocrine disruptors.

                                              2. re: jenhen2

                                                It does that if it's not touching the entire perimeter, as it shrinks if it can. It has to be completely sealed and then a little extra. Conversely, you don't want to have any film showing beyond the edges of the foil or it will stick in a burnt way to the pan. I use a generic wrap myself, and find that when I use some name brand grocery store ones, they are really thick to the point they don't really seal so well.

                                              3. I found a roll of Colgate Reveal see-thru Roasting wrap. It works great! Especially handy for frozen meat.

                                                Online I couldn't find it available but did find an ad from 1971.

                                                Found no problem with taste or melting. Package recommends 400F.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: chgotomy

                                                  A patent was issued, TV ads were made, this product never took off and is not on the market in the US.

                                                2. I don't want plastic or aluminum foil touching my hot food, ever! Folks, the next time you take something from the oven that has been covered in foil, hold the foil up to a light, and you will see tiny pinholes. That is because the foil has degraded when exposed to heat, and has dropped into your food. Restaurants use the plastic/foil method to prevent the excess aluminum in your food. At home, it is worthwhile investing in a good dutch oven with a lid.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: pitterpatter

                                                    >>""That is because the foil has degraded when exposed to heat, and has dropped into your food""<<

                                                    It never ceases to amaze me how the rules of physics don't seem to apply on Chowhound.

                                                    Aluminum foil is made of - duh - aluminum. And if aluminum degraded when exposed to heat, it would be a poor choice for pots and pans, now, wouldn't it?

                                                    Now, walk into the department store, kitchen shop, or restaurant supply house of your choice. Check out the pots and pans. What are many if not most of them made of? You got it, aluminum.

                                                    Aluminum DOES NOT degrade when exposed to heat.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      agreed...the melting point of aluminum foil is over 1100 degrees F.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        I suspect said aluminum foil came into contact with tomatoes, or other acidic substance. Tha'll get you holes, for sure.

                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                          I'm only talking from experience here. I remember in culinary school that one chef said she would not use aluminum foil ever. As I said, please look at your foil up to a light and you will see little pinholes. And as for aluminum pots, pleeese. Who wants aluminum leaching out into their tomato sauces? No one. Aluminum may be used as a core metal in stainless steel pots, but the reason that commercial kitchens use aluminum pots is because they are CHEAP. I cook for a residential house of young people with diagnosed thought disorders and the absolute imperative is that we don't cook with aluminum, ever. Some cases of schizophrenia are cleared up by simple chelation therapy, in which heavy metals are removed from their systems. No, I am not a physicist, but I am well versed in chemistry, cooking, metal poisoning (my father died from that) and neurochemistry.

                                                          1. re: pitterpatter

                                                            Oh, yeah, the only reason anybody buys Calphalon is because it's CHEAP. Sure. Whatever you say. Actually, the reason that aluminum is so popular for pots and pans is that it distributes heat very effectively.

                                                            As to health effects, you can have whatever "absolute imperatives" you want, but the simple fact is that there is no link between the use of aluminum cookware and any adverse outcomes. The hysterial claims linking aluminum cookware to Alzheimer's were debunked long ago.

                                                      2. I'm not a master chef, nor a scientest, I'm just a guy trying to cook a cornish hen because they were on sale for 2 for 5 bucks. Heres what I remember from various classes throughout my several years of life.

                                                        Did you know you can boil water in a paper cup? You can because water cannot reach tempratures higher than 212 degrees (at 14.7 PSI which is normal atmospheric presure).

                                                        As long as theres enough moisture (water) in your food, to cover the inside of the plastic wrap, an there is a vent (which would occur on it's own if necessary) to prevent the pressure inside from rising too much, I don't think the temprature inside can reach too much higher than 212 degrees. And the temprature on the outside can't be too much higher than the temprature in the inside. Think about how thin plastic wrap is. I just went an touched the outside of the plastic bag... It's not that hot, even though the oven is set to 350 degrees. But the inside of the bag is covered with condensation preventing the temprature from getting too high to melt the bag.

                                                        I'm sure if you were to measure the temprature of the surface of your stove-top burner, it would probably read out at 700 degrees or higher-- and if you put plastic wrap on the surface it would melt for sure in less than a second right? Now, leave it on the highest temprature, and put a pot of water on it, wait for it to boil and put a peice of plastic wrap in the water... I don't care what brand, it won't melt I promise. Now cover it in foil, still neither will melt, now cover the foil in plastic wrap, it still won't melt.

                                                        Now do the same thing in the oven... Put some plastic wrap or even an oven bag by itself in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 seconds, it would for sure melt. Fill it with water (or a juicy cornish hen and some BBQ sauce and beer) and put the bag in a pan of water and it will no longer melt.

                                                        Sure...If you cook it long enough, the water will evaporate, excape the bag, and you will have a burnt cornish hen covered in melted plastic.

                                                        Like I said before, I'm not a chef or a scientest, just a nerdy guy who is about 23 minutes away from enjoying a juicy little chicken, slow cooked in a plastic bag with hickory BBQ sauce, onions, garlic and Heineken. I'm sure that my chicken will not taste like plastic nor will it shorten my life because i understand the science behind it. Now you do too. Bon appetit!

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: philsmcc

                                                          See? Sometimes its a good thing when engineers cook!

                                                          1. re: philsmcc

                                                            Here is another question to ponder.

                                                            When you placed the CH in the 350 oven the temperature of the pastic was probably around 70 and the chicken around 40-50.

                                                            Now assume the time it takes for the steam to release from the chicken is greater than the time it takes for the plastic to reach the 350 degrees of the oven.

                                                            Query - In the race to the finish why would the plastic not melt (assuming melting point <350 degrees, prior to the saving 212 steam cool it down.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              The problem with philsmcc position is that steam gets much hotter than 212F. Liquid water tops out at 212, and then converts to steam, and the steam can get much hotter - just like the temperature of ice can get much colder than 32F. That's why steam burns can be so bad - because steam can be several hundred degrees F, and the moisture clings to the hand (or plastic, or foil, or whatever).

                                                              The temperature in a closed vessel that contains moisture can reach much much higher than 212. That's part of the process involved in steaming vegetables rather than boiling them (hotter temperature = faster cooking) and pressure cookers (convert water to steam, keep it trapped, = very high temperature).

                                                              Steam can melt plastic wrap. In a heartbeat.

                                                          2. I have occasionally seen plastic wrap used in the oven but always underneath foil. I assume the foil keeps direct heat from melting the plastic, but I still wouldn't do it. Stuff can leach out from plastic when it is heated, that's why plastic wrap is no longer recommended for use in the microwave except when the plastic doesn't actually touch the food ala steaming a bowl of frozen vegetables. I don't think the difference between sealing the meat with plastic and then foil is too much more effective than just using the foil alone.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              Agreed.Stuff can leach out from plastic - that much has pretty much been shown scientifically. It's also important to keep in mind that while "plastic" is a generic term, there are tons of different types of plastic, all of which have different characteristics and do different things in heat. That's why oven bags can be used in the oven, but a Ziplock can't.

                                                              It's also important to consider the "dose" of any leaching. Small and infrequent doses? So using plastic wrap to make casing-less sausages by boiling them is probably fine. Then again, I probably wouldn't drink the water, or do it every day.

                                                              Lastly, in terms of "leachates", it's not completely clear what these things can do to you, and it's likely a complex multi-factorial issue. To each their own, but I have a low comfort zone for these sorts of things, meaning that personally, even though the jury is still out, I'll take steps to limit my expose to potential plastic leaching into foods. That being said, I'm not a fanatic about it.

                                                              The other important consideration in the specific application of the use of plastic film in the over is that it's probably not necessary when covering something that's low acidity. But when it's a high acid dish, foil (or at least foil alone) probably isn't the best choice. If the meat contains just a dry rub or a non-acidic sauce or baste, then using foil only is likely not an issue. But when using BBQ sauces, many contain a tomato product, and some use soda (Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc.) as a base or ingredient. Being high acid ingredients, those could be problematic when using foil only.

                                                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                Okay, let me see if I got this straight.

                                                                Plastic wrap heated = bad for you.
                                                                Aluminum foil, cans, etc. = bad for you.
                                                                Deep fried produces carcinogens = bad for you.
                                                                Smoked meat contains carcinogens = bad for you.
                                                                Too much fish gives you mercury poisoning = bad for you.
                                                                Too much artificial sweetener = bad for you
                                                                Curing agents = bad for you
                                                                1 KFC double down = instant heart failure
                                                                Eat this = bad for you
                                                                Cook like this = bad for you.

                                                                I may just go out and wrap a cured fish is plastic wrap, smoke it on my pressure treated lumber deck under the power lines next to the nuclear plant with my blue tooth in my ear and drink a diet coke.

                                                                The aluminum foil helmet is looking better and better every day.


                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                  "The aluminum foil helmet is looking better and better every day."

                                                                  Plus it's the height of kitty fashions! See response #4 above

                                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                    I should also point out that my diet coke would've been frozen in it's pastic bottle prior to consumption.


                                                            2. I'm not sure if this was mentioned because at some point I had to stop reading this madness, but there's a way better way to hold in moisture it's called SALT which forms a layer of protein around the meat that seals in juices. So why bother with plastic?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: iheartcooking

                                                                "SALT which forms a layer of protein "

                                                                That statement needs some further clarification from you; I'm not sure what you're thinking about or referring to when you wrote that, but salt is not a protein nor can it form proteins around or on the surface of a cut of meat. What salt does is seal in moisture and flavor, and only initially draws out moisture from the very shallow surface of the meat.

                                                                Here's the short story about salt's effects on food when roasting, from the Salt Institute website article about salt crusting food:

                                                                "Salt roasting combines the nutritional benefits of gentle steaming with the flavor-generating properties of roasting. When the fish (or other food) is encrusted in salt, the salt fuses together to form an almost impenetrable barrier sealing in moisture and flavor. In addition, the contact of the food with the fused salt ensures a dry heat roasting on the surface, in much the same way as conventional roasting, except that the flavor is completely sealed in the salt casing. The salt never penetrates into the food itself. The salt roasting method ends up being a perfect hybrid of steaming and roasting with the added benefit of ensuring zero loss of aroma and flavor. Despite all the newer, more elaborate methods of cooking that have been developed over the years, it's no accident that salt roasting remains a mainstay method for anyone wanting to bring out all the flavors and nutrition inherent in different foods."

                                                                Are you referring to the formation of caramelized sugars and proteins (the browning, or Maillard Reaction) and the appearance of denatured proteins, which appear as coagulation and are visible on the surface of proteins after roasting? The process starts at about 250º F with a reaction between a sugar molecule (like the glucose in meat) and an amino acid (the protein). Salt doesn't cause this to occur, it's heat of the oven, grill, whatever heat, that starts the reaction.

                                                                I do agree with you that a salt crust is a better way to roast something than wrapping it in plastic, but both materials can have positive results.