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Cooking in foil: Advantages and Tips


What is foil cooking?

That “baked” is a cooking technique that involves wrapping food in a sheet of food-grade paper, after possibly seasoning it to taste with spices, fats and various flavourings.
The foil can be subjected to any heat source, which greatly complicates the description of this cooking technique.

In general, the foil exploits two modes of heat transfer, called conduction and convection, while the specific propagation media are air, water and steam.
This technique can be applied when cooking in the oven (which is certainly the most suitable tool), on the grill or even on the griddle or in a pan (NOT non-stick).

How does it work?

The functioning of foil cooking can be summarized as follows:

  1. Heat transfer from the source to the conduction medium: from the electrical resistors or from the oven flame to the air contained inside it or to the lava stone of the gas grill; or from the flame of the stove to the solid of the griddle or pan. Alternatively, radiation can take place directly from the embers.
  2. Heat transfer from the conduction medium to the foil (aluminium foil or food paper that wraps the food).
  3. Heat transfer from the foil (secondary conduction medium) to the food.
  4. Cooking food for:
    1. Heat conduction from the aluminum of the metal foil to the food (solid and liquid parts).
    2. Conduction of heat from the liquids of the food (water and fats), and from the steam released as a result, to the solid parts.

Use: certain foods can also be wrapped in foil and cooked directly on the dying embers of a charcoal or wood grill; obviously, these are small foods, wrapped in aluminum, appropriately greased with oil and turned very frequently on the sides of the wrapping.


Pros and cons of baking in foil

Baking in foil is generally portrayed as the ideal marriage between the full-bodied taste of baking, with various condiments and sauces, and the sobriety of steam in maximizing the nutrients contained in the dishes.

Use: today there are variants of traditional systems that exploit the same concept of the paper but which are subjected to a different primary conduction medium, namely water.

We are talking about vacuum cooking and jar cooking (even at low temperatures), two innovative and cutting-edge methods which, in addition to providing all the advantages of cooking in foil, allow foods to be preserved in the container for a considerable period of time. airtight container.

Cooking in foil and fat

Baking in foil can also be done “naturally”, i.e. without added condiments, to make it friendly to low-calorie and low-lipid (low-fat) diets; in fact, especially meat and fish, once closed in foil, remain in close contact with the fat and cellular juices released by the heat, without dispersion of flavours.

Furthermore, the addition of other condiments can be replaced – at least in part – with raw fats once cooked.

The choice of package

The wrapping, the so-called foil, is generally made of common baking paper, metallic or vegetable (in tropical countries the leaves of some plants are used), or of tinfoil, which guarantees a more hermetic seal and is fireproof.
The choice of wrapping is a rather important element for the success of cooking in foil; a certain porosity of the paper, together with the higher cooking temperatures, contributes to the homogeneous browning of the food, while from a waterproof wrapping, such as tin foil, softer dishes emerge, similar to boiled meat.

The creation of small holes in the external casing encourages the escape of cooking fats and those released by the food, making the dish leaner, drier and less tasty.

Nutritional aspects

From a nutritional point of view, foil cooking is an excellent cooking technique, as long as it is used appropriately; it is in fact a generally low-calorie method, if compared to others such as frying or roasting. At the same time, it maintains and enhances the aromas of foods, which are particularly attractive even to the little ones. Vegetables cooked in foil, remaining in close contact with cellular juices, retain a fair amount of thermolabile vitamins, such as C, B1 and B2.
Use: in contact with particularly acidic substances, aluminum foil could release some unhealthy metallic residue (see below).


Practical rules of baking in foil

Cooking in foil is ideal for foods that are not too bulky, cut into slices or fillets (fish), while for bulkier foods particularly generous cooking times are required.

As a general rule, for example, fish fillets cooked in foil require 3-4 minutes of cooking at 180-200°C for each centimeter of thickness; at least triple for whole fish, from which the same fillets could be obtained.

Use: for large fish, cooking in foil can be replaced by cooking in a salt crust. This, which uses a mineral barrier as an intermediate casing, can only be done in the oven and shows the same advantages and disadvantages as baking in foil; the only penalty is the extension of cooking times.

We now describe the method and the Practical rules for obtaining good baking in foil.

  • Preheat the oven to 180-200°C or according to the temperature called for in the recipe.
  • Once prepared, the ingredients must be placed in the center of the wrapper, which – as a general rule – must be three times wider and twice longer than the food. If the weight of the food is high, it is advisable to place the sheet of paper directly on the tray to be baked, to avoid breaking the parcel during transfer.
  • Especially when adding other various condiments, it is necessary to slightly fold the edges of the wrapper, so as to collect the spilled oil without letting it escape; lift the two freest and most spacious edges so that they meet in the center above the product, then begin to roll or fold the edges together from the joining point, continuing up to the two lateral ends which will also be folded on themselves for greater safety.
    If you do not add condiments, seal the parcel hermetically by folding the longest side of the packaging over the food, so that the two edges fit together perfectly; at this point, roll them together starting from the joined end.
  • Check the closure of the sides of the parcel carefully; if baking paper is used, the hermetic seal can be guaranteed by the gluing effect of the egg white brushed on the edges of the baking paper.
  • Cook in the oven for the time required by the recipe; alternatively, the parcel can be cooked on a pre-heated grill, using double-layered foil as a wrapper to avoid burning it.


Is using foil for wrapping bad?

When it comes to baking in foil, this is certainly the most frequently asked question: is the aluminum in foil bad for your health?
The answer is not simple, since much research has refuted the harmful effects of this metal on human health, although, to be honest, it has focused on the impact of the addition of additives and food contamination when raw or during processing. industrial manipulation of raw materials. The release of aluminum from foil during cooking may be another matter entirely.
We know that dietary intake of aluminum should be limited to 1mg/kg of body weight per week; beyond this limit it cannot be excluded that it could create health problems. The average for the adult population is between 0.2-1.5mg/kg weekly; for younger subjects, maximum limits ranged between 0.7-2.3mg/kg per week.
It has been defined as dangerous to “eat foods that contain sodium acid phosphate and aluminum, or live near extraction mines”; no mention is made regarding cooking in foil, which could release aluminum ions the interaction between food acids and the metal of the casing.
When in doubt, the “common sense rule” wins: it is advisable to use aluminum foil cooking occasionally, perhaps alternating the metal casing with one made of food paper, or alternating this technique with similar methods such as: salt cooking, jar cooking and cooking in vacuum-packed.


Baked Fish – Amberjack Fillets with Cuttlefish and Shrimps

Alice, your Personal Cooker, explains on MypersonaltrainerTv how to prepare a delicious fish baked in foil.

For you, he chose amberjack fillets with cuttlefish and shrimp on a bed of tomatoes, capers and black olives.

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