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A few weeks ago, I used a ceramic baking dish to roast three pork tenderloins in their own juices, with no added li-quid. When I removed the dish from the oven, it was cracked in several places. At first I thought the dish was faulty, but a few days later I used another ceramic dish to cook some chicken breasts sprinkled with lemon juice. After 25 minutes at 400°F, the dish broke in two. What happened?

A sudden change in temperature—pouring liquid into a hot dish, putting a hot dish on a cold surface—can cause Pyrex and ceramics to crack or break. A large difference in temperature between two parts of the dish can have the same result. In your case, the temperature of the meat touching the dish was probably less than 100°C (212°F), the maximum possible for the liquid in the meat. The temperature of the surrounding dish, on the other hand, was the same as that of the oven: 200°C (400°F). The presence of small, invisible cracks can also make glass break in the oven. For the kind of cooking you describe (hot oven, no liquid), you should use a metal dish. Otherwise, always add enough liquid (such as broth) to cover the bottom of a ceramic dish before putting it in the oven. That way, the surface temperature will stay relatively even.

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