I have a question about the recipe "Janet's Mexican Pork Tamales" from Anna Francese Gass. placing a plastic grocery bag on tamales, before steamig, will the bag not melt?
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Lisanne is a trusted home cook.
I have no answer for you, but indeed there are a several unclear instructions; we are not told how exactly the plastic bag is to be placed (cut off the handles? Place it on its side?), there are no photos or headnotes, and, well, we don't even know who "Janet" is nor why this recipe is a community pick.
Reliability and clarity are key in recipe-writing.
While I have no idea about Janet either, the amusing ( or distressing depending on viewpoint) detail is that the submitter of the recipe is identified as a Food52 recipe tester. So ergo the community pick.
I would not use a regular plastic grocery bag. You should use food grade plastic, and the recipe submitter should have specified this. Non-food grade plastics can leak dyes and/or plastic additives into your foods. Maybe I'm being too careful since the tamales are wrapped in corn husk anyway, but I like to err on the side of caution when it comes to food.
agree with you on this; we don't know what materials are in the dyes used. Components in plastic leaching into the food would be a major concern for me. I'm pretty surprised at the endorsement of this practice that the inclusion of this recipe indicates. What's wrong with just using a tea towel under the lid of the pot?
Lisanne yes! Or foil, or something else (like the towel the recipe already includes). I hadn't read the recipe before, but now that I've read it I don't think any sort of plastic is necessary, food grade or otherwise. LizD mentions topping with more corn husks - there's lots of better options! The one time I made tamales we just used corn husks and a pot with a heavy, well fitting lid; they cooked fine.
You can also cover with additional soaked corn husks, instead of the bag
I have nothing to add to help you, but rather to make a comment about the use of plastic in cooking. Given the research I no longer use anything plastic that gets warm - microwave / in pots, etc. BPA free or not. There is too much evidence that there is the potential for leeching and given the link with health issues I won't take a chance. I would find out what Mexican's used before they had plastic and use that method.