Food Warmer for Heating
Chicken and Ribs?
Ask-a-Caterer Replies to:

Louis from Cleveland, Ohio, who asked about a food warmer:

Louis writes: “Hello! We are planning on having BBQed ribs and chicken for our big day. We’ll have so much to do on wedding day that we got to get the grilling done the day before. So how do we keep everything hot without getting it dry? We want it moist, and how do we heat it up? Thanks!

Ask-a-Caterer Replies: Hello Louis - Congrats to you! Best of luck.

We’ve got a good section about Warmers and Chafers on the site:

We’ll use them to heat up the foods from the fridge, and to serve them during the meal.

Portable heaters come in many different shapes and sizes, and with different kinds of functions.

This Winware 8 quart unit is the one we recommend for home use. It’s definitely not the heavy duty version you see in restaurants and such, but for occasional home use - it’s just fine. And the purchase price is less than the total cost to rent it.

Basically it's a large double boiler, the big advantage with this type is the wet heat. Water is heated under the pan of food. That hot water heats evenly, doesn’t burn, and works quickly.

Here are some other units you might like too. See if you can find a safe way to tuck away any wires for the electric versions.

Still, we always prefer the wet heat that heats water under the food pan. And we like the wireless kinds when possible.

Wire frame, disposable or “portable” warmers are less expensive and easily available at WalMart, Party Stores, etc. They work fine and are great for a one-time event when looks aren’t all that important. Nothing wrong with using these back in the kitchen, and keeping the nice looking ones in the buffet table.

Wet BBQ sauce recipes work best with these warmers. Our BBQ Chicken recipe is boneless for easy eating, but bone-in works great too. The method uses sauce to spread heat and keep the meat moist.

After grilling, load the cooked meats into disposable aluminum pans, partially cover with sauce, cover each pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate. Next day, set up the food warmers on your buffet table, pouring hot water into the lower pan and light up both sternos.

Keep the aluminum foil on each pan of meat, and place them into the warmers. With the foil in place, it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes for the meat to be warmed through and ready to serve. Only use one sterno from then on. Add hot water to the lower pan if it starts to go dry.

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