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Fine Dining Does Not Include Polyethylene

My neighbor (a certified dietician) told me she uses Saran Wrap to cover a roast while baking, to make it tender and moist. She said the Saran Wrap melts with no ill affects. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I have to cook a 16-pound roast for a large dinner party and am wondering if what she suggests is safe.

How lovely for her. Do not eat at her house. Do not follow her example. Check her credentials thoroughly, and then hire someone else if you're in the market for a dietician. Maintain cordial relations at all costs, but keep as much distance as possible.

Are you suggesting that she eats the melted wrap and serves it to her guests, or merely that the wrap forms lacy puddles around her roast, which she gracefully scoops away before carving the roast? Either way is nuts. Plus, if the wrap melts, it's not doing a great job of keeping in moisture, is it?

Saran Wrap and many other wraps have a number of meaningful uses in the kitchen. Saran Premium Wrap (easier to handle) and Saran Cling Plus Wrap (less expensive and clingier) may be used in the microwave oven, but even there, the manufacturer wants you to have a 1-inch gap between the food and plastic wrap (and wants you to create a little vent so steam can escape). They are quite clear that high-fat foods (such as bacon) and high-sugar foods (such as pastries) should not come in direct contact with the wrap, lest it melt. Under no circumstances should these wraps be used "in conventional ovens, browning units, toaster ovens, or on stovetops," the manufacturer says.

Saran wraps are made of polyethylene, the most common plastic in the world, which has a melting point somewhere between 220F (105C) and 275F (137C).

If a cut of meat is of sufficient quality that you are roasting it, it generally doesn't need to be covered to stay moist and juicy. If it is not of sufficient quality, you should be braising it anyway. If you want to cover a roast, use a roasting pan with a lid or aluminum foil, for heaven's sake.

Plastic wrap is not to be eaten.

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