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I am making a brisket and the recipe calls for coating the meat with a tomato-based rub, which means I can't simply cover with foil... that would leave an unsavory taste in the rub because the aluminum would react with the tomato paste. The recipe suggested parchment paper between the brisket and the foil; I am cooking at 200 degrees F for eight hours.

I read somewhere that parchment paper is sometimes coated with silicone; however, I also see that it's more than twice as expensive as freezer paper... locally I can buy 75 sqft of generic freezer paper for $2.50, but only 30 sqft of the same generic distributor's parchment paper is $2.68.

  • Is there a good reason why I can't substitute freezer paper for this application (chemicals side facing the foil, of course)
  • Also, what kind of cooking situations is parchment paper best-suited for?
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2 Answers

Parchment paper is not paper coated with silicon. It's actually paper that's been run through sulfuric acid, leaving it just a really thick matrix of cellulose. Long story short, extremely thick paper without the wood pulp.

Freezer paper is normal paper with wax applied to one side. I wouldn't use it for anything involving heat, as you'd end up eating the petroleum-enriched waxy bit in your food, and the paper might light on fire.

Parchment is used as a spill-proof surface in baking. Additionally, you can wrap foods in parchment (a technique known as cooking en papillote) and stick them in the oven, which effectively steams them in their own juices, so no flavor is lost. Salmon and vegetables are exceptionally delicious this way.

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Some (most?) freezer paper actually has a plastic coating, so yes, by all means use it if you like eating melted plastic. –  Aaronut Dec 5 '11 at 3:45
    
even with the plastic side facing foil? –  Mike Pennington Dec 5 '11 at 6:47
    
Didn't answer the question - •Is there a good reason why I can't substitute freezer paper for this application? –  Chris Cudmore Dec 5 '11 at 6:54
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At least some parchment paper is coated with silicone. See, e.g., Wilton's web site. A lot of places seem to say Reynolds is as well, but I can't find an official source for that. (Would certainly be consistent with how it acts when I put it in a 500°F oven, though). –  derobert Dec 5 '11 at 17:15
    
You can't. You'll have to go to the emergency room. –  technowizard12 Dec 6 '11 at 22:49
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First off, I think you're really looking at things the wrong way if you're happier buying 50 times the paper you need for the same price as 20 times the paper you need.

The difference isn't that much money (yeah, it's a lot different in percent terms, but we're talking $2.50 here), you'll be getting way more than you need either way (plainly, you don't go through a lot of parchment, or you'd already have some, so 30 sq. feet is PLENTY), and with parchment you're actually getting what the recipe calls for.

With freezer paper, you have no idea what you're putting in your food. The coating could be plastic, and it could be wax. It could be something that, even if you don't think it's in direct contact with the meat, could leach chemicals into the sauce, or outgas into the meat.

With parchment, you're looking at (in most cases these days) silicone as a coating, which is inert to 400 degrees or so--far beyond your chosen cooking temperature. If it's true parchment it's even safer.

I would not take the chance of filling my brisket recipe with wax, indigestible plastic or petrochemicals, just to save less than $5.

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I would only be looking at this the wrong way if I knew before asking the question that freezer paper was coated with wax, but I did not. –  Mike Pennington Dec 6 '11 at 8:43
    
That's fair enough. –  bikeboy389 Dec 8 '11 at 0:33
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