Cooking Tips

Should You Wrap Meat That You’re Salting Overnight?

Sometimes unwrapped is best.

Published Oct. 4, 2022.

Salting meat and leaving it overnight in the refrigerator allows time for the salt to travel deep into the meat, thoroughly seasoning it and changing the protein structure so that it can hold on to more juices during cooking. And unlike brining, salting won’t thwart the goal of crispy skin on poultry or a well-browned crust on beef, pork, and lamb roasts.

But should you wrap the meat or leave it uncovered? The type of meat and how you plan to cook it are the determining factors.

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Don’t wrap poultry.

Leaving whole chickens and turkeys unwrapped encourages the skin to dry, which helps promote browning and crispness when the bird is roasted.

Don’t wrap roasts to be seared at the start of cooking.

As it does for poultry skin, a stint uncovered in the fridge dries the surface of beef, pork, and lamb roasts, allowing browning to happen faster and minimizing the risk of a gray band beneath the crust.

Do wrap lean roasts to be seared at the end of cooking.

In recipes that call for reverse-searing, where the meat is slowly roasted in a low oven and then seared before serving, the roast’s exterior is essentially dried twice. This can be beneficial for well-marbled cuts such as prime rib and brisket, but a lean roast such as Châteaubriand can dry out too much, resulting in a leathery crust.

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