Sunday, March 22, 2009

Keeping food warm during and after grilling or transporting

When catering, one of the biggest issues we have is keeping the food warm after it has been grilled sometime earlier or in a different location from which it is served. This is a common problem many people face and so we'd thought we'd help shed some light on the different ways we've tried to do this. Try out two or three of the methods to see which one works best for you.

Water coolers can be used to keep food warm too. Line it with aluminum foil, and pad it with towels. Avoid having hot dishes touch the sides of the cooler directly so that it doesn't melt the plastic cooler.

Use coffee carafes or ice buckets. Thermal carafes and insulated ice buckets are also great at keeping things warm. You probably can't fit as much, but they're the perfect size for something like gravy.

Use a tinfoil hat. No, not to make sure that aliens can't read your mind. Make a tent with the foil with the shiny side down, and cover things like turkey to retain the heat.

Make a hot water bath. You can put smaller pots or bowls into a bigger pot with a little bit of hot water, then cover it. It will keep things nice, warm, and moist.

Use a chafing dish. The high-end version of the water bath is to use a chafing dish. They can be pricy, but if you entertain a lot, they look nice on the table, and they're very convenient.

Use your crockpot or slow cooker. Just set it on low and use it for things like soups, mashed potatoes, or stuffing.

For ovens, use a moist towel under the pot cover. If you are putting dishes in the oven to keep them warm, consider putting a damp towel under the lid of dishes that you want to keep moist like mashed potatoes.

Steam trays. For pastas and lasagnas these trays will keep items warm for hours, many can be purchased along with sterno or heat gels or rented.

Portable electric and butane grill plates. In outdoor environments often times the only source of energy available is electrical. If that's the case you can either bring along a small one or two burner electric or purchase a small butane gas grill plate. Either will provide exceptional point of use heat similar to stove top cooking. The portability of the units make them well fitted for quick setup, use, and removal.